NYT poll expert blasts Rasmussen as biased, inaccurate after election

Posted Nov. 10, 2010, at 10:22 a.m.
Last modified Dec. 17, 2010, at 10:56 a.m.
Most polls seriously overestimated support for Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell, while underestimating support for independent Eliot Cutler.
Most polls seriously overestimated support for Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell, while underestimating support for independent Eliot Cutler.
Most polls seriously overestimated support for Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell, while underestimating support for independent Eliot Cutler.
Joel Page | AP
Most polls seriously overestimated support for Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell, while underestimating support for independent Eliot Cutler.

Nate Silver, the poll expert who first gained fame predicting baseball stats before he moved into the political arena, blasted Rasmussen polls in a blog post shortly after the election, saying the polls “badly missed the margin in many states, and also exhibited a considerable bias toward Republican candidates.”

“The 105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research, missed the final margin between the candidates by 5.8 points, a considerably higher figure than that achieved by most other pollsters. Some 13 of its polls missed by 10 or more points, including one in the Hawaii Senate race that missed the final margin between the candidates by 40 points, the largest error ever recorded in a general election in FiveThirtyEight’s database, which includes all polls conducted since 1998.”

The final Rasmussen poll of the Maine governor’s race, conducted Oct. 26 and released Oct. 28, showed Paul LePage polling at 40 percent with a 14 percent lead over Libby Mitchell and Eliot Cutler, who were tied at 26 percent. The final result, of course, was much closer, with LePage winning with just 38 percent of the vote, besting Cutler by just 10,000 votes, or a little less than 2 percent of the vote.

Silver lauded SurveyUSA and Quinnipiac University for accuracy nationwide, but neither of those firms polled in Maine during the election. The most accurate poll in the race was from Maine’s own Pan Atlantic SMS Group, which showed LePage at 37 percent, Cutler at 31 percent and Mitchell at 22 percent. All polls overestimated support for Democrat Libby Mitchell.

Read more of Nate Silver’s analysis at The New York Times.

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