image Well I’ve said on a couple of occasions that KCCI’s polling did not meet the smell test for me.  Some interesting news…

It looks like their pollster, Research 2000, is in hot water with one of their clients uber-liberal blog Daily Kos.  Today Markos Moulitsas said they have severed ties with Research 2000 and will sue.

This stems from a report that he posted today.  Moulitsas in response to the report said:

I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk.

Since the moment Mark Grebner, Michael Weissman, and Jonathan Weissman approached me, I took their concerns seriously and cooperated fully with their investigation. I also offered to run the results on Daily Kos provided that they 1) fully documented each claim in detail, 2) got that documentation peer reviewed by disinterested third parties, and 3) gave Research 2000 an opportunity to respond. By the end of last week, they had accomplished the first two items on that list. I held publication of the report until today, because I didn’t want to partake in a cliche Friday Bad News Dump. This is serious business, and I wasn’t going to bury it over a weekend.

We contracted with Research 2000 to conduct polling and to provide us with the results of their surveys. Based on the report of the statisticians, it’s clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it. Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation. Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis — which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so. At one point, they claimed they couldn’t deliver them because their computers were down and they had to work out of a Kinkos office. Research 2000 was delivered a copy of the report early Monday morning, and though they quickly responded and promised a full response, once again the authors of the report heard nothing more.

While the investigation didn’t look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else. I ask that all poll tracking sites remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases. I hereby renounce any post we’ve written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling. 

I want to feel stupid for being defrauded, but fact is Research 2000 had a good reputation in political circles. Among its clients the last two years have been KCCI-TV in Iowa, WCAX-TV in Vermont, WISC-TV in Wisconsin, WKYT-TV in Kentucky, Lee Enterprises, the Concord Monitor, The Florida Times-Union, WSBT-TV/WISH-TV/WANE-TV in Indiana, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Bergen Record, and the Reno Gazette-Journal. In fact, just last week, in an email debate about robo-pollsters, I had a senior editor at a top DC-based political publication tell me that he’d "obviously" trust Research 2000 more than any automated pollsters, such as SurveyUSA. I didn’t trust Research 2000 more than I trusted SUSA (given their solid track record), but I did trust them. I got burned, and got burned bad. (emphasis mine).

Kos says he can’t trust any of it, welcome to the club.

While I’m glad to see that my skepticism has been tentatively justified, this move by Kos could end up biting him in the butt if he’s wrong.  Which I admit would be equally entertaining.

I plan to contact KCCI and will update with any statement they provide.

HT: Memeorandum

3 comments
  1. I don’t think it’s going to bite him if he’s wrong. I don’t agree with Kos on anything, but he did the right thing on this one – there’s enough questions that the polling firm needs to be questioned this severely. And he outlined the process he went through, and described how he gave the firm a chance to respond.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but good for Kos. If it turns out the polling firm was “right,” it can’t be based on their behavior so far: it’ll be an after-the-fact thing.

    1. Well it’s a defamatory comment, and he’d better be able to back it up when the scrutiny of other statisticians look at the the polling.

      Otherwise he’s opened himself up for a lawsuit. Either scenario is entertaining in my opinion.

      1. “Legal” is not the same as “ethical,” and in this case making it clear that there are serious questions about Research 2000 was the right thing.

        Our lawsuit hungry culture where Research 2000 can countersue should be taken more seriously as a problem. If it turns out that they were making polls out of whole cloth – as seems very, very likely – how could they possibly have grounds for countersuit, esp. after being a chance to reply to the data by one of their clients and going “uhhhh.”

        And believe me, there are many, many times we on the Right get taken in by stupid things. Remember when everyone was yelling about Interpol and how the Obama administration was making them more powerful than the Constitution? That was a ridiculous slander – maybe not lawsuit worthy, but then again: “legal” is not the same as “ethical.”

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