The Dubious Polling Awards are part of a media ethics project by the Art Science Research Laboratory in New York, and compiled by its resident expert on polling, David W. Moore, a former Gallup pollster.
For the fourth consecutive year, Moore had plenty of dodgy polls and media coverage to sift through to arrive at these suspect honorees.
Take, for example, the 10th place finisher, POLITICO’s chief political columnist Roger Simon, whose “jaw-dropping” dismissal of polling set Moore’s wayback machine to 1936, when Literary Digest polled 10 million American voters and concluded that Alf Landon would defeat Franklin Delano Roosevelt (in fact, FDR went on to win what was then the largest landslide presidential victory in American history).
Simon rejected the notion that scientifically-chosen samples can measure public opinion. In this case, Simon played dumb in order to buttress his pot shots at an ABC/Washington Post poll on the state of the U.S. economy: “Is this how ‘most Americans’ — based on a survey of 1,005 of them — really feel? Dunno.”
This disingenuous lapse by a veteran political columnist earned Simon the “Golly Gee Willikers, Batman! Polls Are Like Magic!” Award from Moore.
Then there was Dubious Polling Awards’ top finisher: “All the Pollsters, Pundits and People of the Press.” This un-coveted honor, which Moore named “The Rudy Giuliani Frontrunner Award,” recognizes the pack mentality in reporting on frontrunners for the GOP presidential nomination.
As Moore notes, “First it was Donald Trump, then Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, still Herman Cain, and finally Newt Gingrich, who were identified as frontrunners for the GOP nomination. Why? The polls told us so.”
However, Moore continued, “As we learned four years ago, the national polls survey the wrong electorate — a national electorate that doesn’t exist. It’s the state electorates, namely in Iowa and New Hampshire and most recently South Carolina, which really count and set the stage for the rest of the states.”
Read the full report on iMediaEthics.org. Alexa ranks iMediaEthics as the 12th most visited news media watchdog. iMediaEthics is published by Art Science Research Laboratory (ARSL), a not-for-profit, co-founded by its director, Rhonda Roland Shearer, an adjunct lecturer at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Iowa, and her late husband, Harvard professor and scientist, Stephen Jay Gould. iMediaEthics, formerly known as StinkyJournalism.org, is a non-partisan journalism ethics program in which students and young journalists work with professional researchers to promote the media’s use of scientific methods and experts before publication.
David W. Moore is a Senior Fellow with the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire. He is a former Vice President of the Gallup Organization and was a senior editor with the Gallup Poll for thirteen years. He is author of The Opinion Makers: An Insider Exposes the Truth Behind the Polls (Beacon, 2008; trade paperback edition, 2009).