Rasmussen Polling Methodology Leaves A Lot To Be Desired

Author: October 1, 2012 7:00 am
Scott Rasmussen; photo by Gage Skidmore

Scott Rasmussen, owner of polling firm Rasmussen Reports. Photo by Gage Skidmore

If you watch FOX News, you might think that Rasmussen Reports and FOX were the only groups performing polling this election season. FOX itself is rather biased, but Rasmussen has another issue: it does not actually perform its own polling. The dirty little secret behind Rasmussen is that it relies upon another firm, Pulse Opinion Research, for handling its real field-work (i.e., calling up people and running through the questions).

Doing a quick bit of research, one discovers that Pulse Opinion Research is a pay-to-poll agency which engages in automated polling. It calls up a land line, and whomever answers the phone can give the answers. There is no confirmation of age, eligibility, or even if there is a person on the other end. It is all a machine, with all of the personality of “… if you know your party’s extension …”


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To reach those who have abandoned land lines for mobile phones, Rasmussen also engages in online polling. They claim that they use a demographically-diverse panel, but that is not considered a reliable metric due to the potentially insecure nature of online interactive polls (making sure users only answer each question once) and the anonymous nature of Internet users (making sure the data provided is only provided by the desired target groups in certain geographical areas).

Being a pay-to-poll agency, Pulse Opinion Research has been tapped by the Libertarian party to create their own polls, with Gary Johnson’s name replacing Mitt Romney’s. The results were as expected: it mirrored the Rasmussen polls taken at the same time.

Rasmussen has outsourced its polling to outside groups since 2003, which reflects how its polling is becoming less and less accurate. Its polling methodology is also mired in a reliance upon land line telephones, which are now becoming more the exception than the rule. Its method to compensate — online polling — is easily manipulated. In the end, we must no longer consider Rasmussen a polling agency, but just another right-wing propaganda machine.

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