Letters from Liberia, chutzpah Duluth style, love trumps politics, does covering bullying in suicides ignore the underlying health aspect, and Moss on a roll.
Ouch, that one hurt. But the tweet, posted hours before the hapless Timberwolves were to take on the world champion Los Angeles Lakers this week, is an example of what happens when a definitive poll turns out to be not so definitive.
That's the U of M's Larry Jacobs' problem, which he shares with the Humphrey Institute and Minnesota Public Radio after gubernatorial polls released just before the election appear to be inaccurate -- and not by a little.
MPR issued this news release today:
(St. Paul, Minn.) November 11, 2010--Minnesota Public Radio and the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs announced today that they will undertake a thorough review of the methodology used in polls conducted during the 2010 election season. The process will include an internal review of the poll by the Humphrey Institute and an independent audit that will be made public. The independent audit will be conducted by Frank Newport, the editor and (sic) chief of Gallup.
MPR and the Humphrey Institute partnered this year to conduct four polls leading up to Election Day. The final poll, based on interviewing begun nearly two weeks before Election Day, showed results significantly different from the final election tally. This issue will be examined along with the raw data from other polls to determine whether there is a methodological reason for the difference, or whether external events account for the difference.
"We are committed to a transparent review of our polling methodology because we value the importance of continuous improvement in our efforts," said Professor Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute's Center for the Study of Politics and Government. "If a shortcoming is identified, we will fix it. If not, we will have third-party verification that our methods are sound."
"The review of polling methodology is a necessary step in continuing to provide Minnesotans with the unbiased information they need to make informed decisions," said Chris Worthington, MPR's managing director of News.
Dean Brian Atwood of the Humphrey Institute added, "I welcome the opportunity to conduct this self analysis and peer review, a regular process for any academic institution. Professor Jacobs is an internationally recognized expert in this field. He is a professional who looks critically at his own work, as well as at polls conducted by others. We are committed to maintaining a very high standard."
I have not talked to anybody at MPR involved in the polling situation, but one doesn't need to to know that MPR has a problem going into the 2012 campaign. Even if MPR and the Humphrey Institute get the methodology fixed (assuming it's broken) before the first poll of the 2012 campaign comes out, few of them will be have any credibility until Election Day, because there's really no other way to prove their reliability.
On his media-watchdog blog, David Brauer has found a Carleton College expert who may (or may not) be involved in the poll introspection.
While (Steven)Schier won't divulge conversations with MPR, he is willing to critique HHH's methodology. "What I can tell you is that the poll problems may lie in two places -- the likely voter screen and the attempt to factor in cell phone use."
As I noted this summer, HHH does not survey cell-phone-only voters, or CPOs. However, it tries to simulate that 25 percent of households by giving additional weight to land line respondents who also have cell phones.
To be sure, it's comforting that MPR is taking the possible poll problems seriously. Of course, any hits to a news organization's credibility is an assault on its vital organs.
But there's another reason why accurate polls matter: They may influence the outcome of elections. Sen. Kathy Saltzman, a moderate DFLer who lost to a Republican last week, told the Woodbury Bulletin that she thinks Democratic legislators may have suffered defeat because voters saw the pre-election polls showing DFLer Mark Dayton leading in the governor's race.
"I think that people were concerned that a (Democrat-controlled) Legislature would be a rubber stamp for some of the policies that he campaigned on," she said.
Maybe she's trying to come up with ways to make her loss sting less, or maybe she's right. If it's the latter, perhaps a larger discussion is in play for news organizations: If polls influence the outcome of elections, what's the value in doing them?(2 Comments)
At an event in San Francisco yesterday to help veterans get some services.
Today's first hour of Midday is highly recommended listening. Award-winning military correspondent Joe Galloway joined Gary Eichten for a riveting hour about being a photographer and reporter at war.
Galloway criticized the fact that most people in the country "have no skin in the game" when it comes to waging war. "I think we are more inclined to go to war when the people who are doing the voting don't know the true cost of war and who pays the price. This is the way of war," he told Gary Eichten.
Here's one other photo from this Veterans Day.
Chad Young of Rochester, Illinois made it home today.(1 Comments)
A new poll is getting plenty of attention in these parts because it purports to show Gov. Tim Pawlenty getting little love from his home state in a poll of potential presidential candidates.
The Public Policy Polling survey showed Pawlenty gets 19% of the vote in his home state in a mythical election today that would include Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney.
Tim Pawlenty leads the field in his home state of Minnesota but his performance is surprisingly weak. He gets 19% with Palin right on his heels at 18%, Huckabee at 14%, and Gingrich and Romney each getting 11%. These numbers are reflective of the overall trouble we found for Pawlenty at home in our final preelection poll of the state- his approval rating was under water and voters overwhelmingly said they didn't think he should run for President. Partially because of Pawlenty's declining popularity Democrats seem to have picked up the Governor's office there in an otherwise awful year for the party.
Two words: Prove it.
In his initial run for office in 2002, Pawlenty captured 45 percent of the vote. Four years later, he garnered 46.7% of the vote.
As of this afternoon, Tom Emmer has 43% of the vote in this year's election.
Is that Pawlenty's fault? There's little to suggest that. First, 2010 was the first election in which the Independence Party candidate could reasonably be expected to pull votes from the Republican candidate. In Pawlenty's elections, both IP candidates -- Tim Penny and Peter Hutchinson -- are believed to have taken votes primarily from Democratic candidates.
There's a fair chance that if a similar race were the dynamic in 2010, Emmer would be the new governor, especially since there's absolutely no evidence that Pawlenty was a drag on most Republicans running for Legislature.
It's true that Emmer has performed far worse than other Republican candidates in the statewide election. But Emmer's negatives have been high, and the seat was open. In legislative races, there was a sitting Democrat to vote against.
Famed political prognosticator Nate Silver tweeted today, "More evidence that Pawlenty is overrated: he gets only 19% of GOP primary voters in Minnesota."
It's hard to say, for sure. Clearly Pawlenty has done little to shed the "also ran" status in nationwide polls. But Al Gore didn't win his home state of Tennessee in 2000, and he came within a relative handful of votes to become president.
But Minnesota doesn't really matter to Pawlenty in the presidential scheme of things. Candidates like him need to win -- or perform strongly -- in the early primary states, or the money dries up. Minnesota is not one of those states.
In the event that he ended up on a general election showdown with a Democrat, there's little to suggest that he wouldn't get at least 45 percent of the vote.
And, besides, it's way too early to declare who doesn't have a shot. Going into the Iowa caucuses, John McCain's campaign was considered dead. In Arizona's Republican primary, 48 percent of the state's Republicans did not vote for eventual nominee, the senator from Arizona.