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Payne: Rasmussen’s Polling Methods Are Suspect

On Jan. 5, Rasmussen Reports released the first poll in the general election to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The telephone survey found Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley leading Republican state Sen. Scott Brown 50 percent to 41 percent. WBUR’s Democratic political analyst Dan Payne questions the methodology behind those findings:


Scott Rasmussen’s method of interviewing by robo calls is suspect. While the phone number is for a “likely voter,” the person who answers the phone could be a 16-year-old, an unregistered voter, a senile grandmother or someone in a playful mood.

The robo calls do not include cell-phone numbers, missing a growing number of younger voters who don’t have landline phones. This is said to have understated Obama’s support in the presidential general election by 3 to 5 percent.

Not surprisingly, Rasmussen is the favorite pollster of Fox News, perhaps because he consistently shows President Obama’s popularity and issue stands to be worse than most other pollsters show.

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  • Elizabeth Wasserman

    So Rasmussen is good when the poll results agree with the democrats?

    Rasmussen goes by the number of potential voters. Rasmussen was dead on when they predicted Obama would win and by what margin.

  • bill

    Wow, these left wingers will not stop with the petty garbage. Elizabeth is correct and with that said why don’t you democrats wait until next week and compare the election results with Rasmussen. Then you can do all the petty little whining you want.

  • Pete

    A conspicuous absence of whining about The Globe’s fatr more suspicious numbers, and the techniques of the people who generated them.

    Something tells me that WBUR’s Democratic ‘political analyst’ / Commissar Dan Payne is not steeped in the Edward R. Murrow tradition.

    But who among this generation’s crop of “Journalists” is?

  • Erik

    I’m neutral about whether this is a valid argument but Rasmussen’s final poll for the New Hampshire primary in 2008 showed Obama ahead of Clinton by 7%, yet we know that Clinton won. Either Rasmussen or the Globe is way off and it will be interesting later to figure out why.

  • m in boston

    Problem with trying to indict Rasmussen is you can’t indict his record. His historical performance, against all comers, is above that of any of his competitors. Zogby, AP (*cough*), Gallop, etc. Whether you think he’s partisan, or not, his track record proves otherwise. Funny how so many (liberals) find fault with him… where were you when Scott Rasmussen had daily polls indicating wavering support for wars in Iraq/Afghanistan under Bush? Or Bush’s flagging support numbers? Yeah, I thought so. Only when Rasmussen polls show unfavorable trends for libs/dems do the detractors crawl out of their holes.

    I could care less about his personal political leanings, idealogy, etc. His reputation, based on his uncanny accuracy when compared to all others, stands on it’s own merits. Is he ALWAYS right on the money? Or course not. No pundit/pollster ever is. However, he’s right more often and he’s more accurate than anyone else. Hard to swallow for those that wish he were a political hack, but go check his historical performance. And check his credentials/reputation amongst liberals that possess enough intellectual honesty to give him props. All Rasmussen does is poll on ‘what is in the news’. During Bush’s era, he had gobs of ‘negative’ polls concerning the wars and popularity. Hmm… kinda like he does today concerning Health Care ‘reform’ and Obama’s popularity. But don’t let that dissuade people from trying to label him or discredit him.

    FACT: You cannot discredit the man’s results. He IS the BEST… and the historical data proves it. Better ask yourself WHY you want to label him as a political hack, when the numbers prove otherwise. If he was a hack, he’d be all over the map in performance and accuracy. What now?

  • amanda

    Yeah, they are suspect. Brown won by 5%….his methods must be terrible.

  • Bill

    “Problem with trying to indict Rasmussen is you can’t indict his record. His historical performance, against all comers, is above that of any of his competitors.”

    That assumes that the winning polls that Rasmussen brags about are typical of all Rasmussen polls. They are not.

    Rasmussen is proud that it rightly predicted the results of the presidential election.

    And? How can you slant “Who will you vote for in the election?”

    So there is no end to Rasmussen bragging about that.

    And that provides cover for Rasmussen’s more typical, slanted questions. Like this one –

    “It’s always better to cut taxes than to increase government spending because taxpayers, not bureaucrats, are the best judges of how to spend their money?”

    There is no good excuse for a question like that, or for trusting, much less quoting, a pollster who would resort to that kind of demagogic tactic. None.

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