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Sunday, November 4, 2012

TFD Opinions: Public Policy Polling vs. Rasmussen 2008 and 2012

Most people who watch polls like to believe the ones that say what they want to hear. It's no surprise that Republicans favor Rasmussen as his numbers often favor Republicans. Public Policy Polling has emerged as a favorite of Democrats. Republicans insist Rasmussen is truly fair while PPP is a liberal group trying to mess with the election with biased numbers. But instead of just guessing, we have an actual track record to look at. Here are the results from their 2008 final polls regarding the 10 states that are expected to be closest in 2012.

2008 (+ is Obama margin, - is McCain margin):
Colorado: Actual +9, PPP +10, Rasmussen +4
Florida: Actual + 2.8, PPP +2, Rasmussen -1
Iowa: Actual +9.5, PPP no poll, Rasmussen +8
Nevada: Actual +12.5, PPP +4, Rasmussen +4
New Hampshire: Actual + 9.6, PPP no poll, Rasmussen +7
North Carolina: Actual +0.4, PPP +1, Rasmussen -1
Ohio: Actual + 4.6, PPP +2, Rasmussen +0
Pennsylvania: Actual +10.3, PPP +8, Rasmussen +6
Virginia: Actual +6.3, PPP +6, Rasmussen +4
Wisconsin: Actual +13.9, PPP no poll, Rasmussen +7

That's 10 polls for Rasmussen with an average error of 4.09 and 7 polls from PPP with an average error of 2.3. In only the races that both pollsters polled, Rasmussen's average error is 4.27. On top of that, Rasmussen underestimated Obama in 10 of 10 polls. PPP overestimated Obama by 1 point or less twice and underestimated him 5 times.

If you throw out Nevada which both pollsters erred badly and equally, those numbers become an average error of 3.24 for Rasmussen and just 1.27 for PPP. In only the races that both pollsters polled Rasmussen's average becomes 3.57. Which one seems like the better pollster that deserves your trust? In addition, Rasmussen was rated as one of the worst pollsters in 2010. That's not to say they can't be right in 2012 but people should know a pollster's track records rather than just assuming the #s they want to see are the correct ones. In 2012, PPP's polls are showing a race that Obama will clearly win with over 300 electoral votes while Rasmussen continues to show the race as a dead toss-up. Rasmussen may or may not release new numbers tomorrow so we'll see how they both fare on Tuesday night.

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