NYT calls out Rasmussen for conservative bias in Wisconsin poll

By Sahil Kapur
Tuesday, February 22, 2011 11:43 EDT
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The New York Times accused Rasmussen Reports of lacing a recent survey on the Wisconsin protests with conservative bias, elevating longstanding critiques about the polling firm’s credibility.

The survey, released Monday, asked four questions about the Wisconsin clash over Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget plan, which would strip the collective bargaining rights of public employees and force them to pay more for benefits. It found that 48 percent of “likely voters” agreed with Walker, while 38 percent supported his opponents.

Nate Silver of the Times‘ FiveThirtyEight blog is a trusted polling expert who came to fame after correctly predicting the outcomes of 49 of 50 states in the 2008 election. In a Monday evening posting, he took issue with the manner in which several of Rasmussen’s questions were asked, decreeing that they were designed to engender a pro-Walker bias.

Two of the questions, Silver wrote, misrepresented the nature of the opposition in a “blatant” attempt to diminish sympathy for them before asking the respondent whose side they were on. The penultimate question was “a talking point posed as a question,” he declared.

The questions were about whether the respondent thinks public or private sector employees make more money, and whether “teachers, firemen and policemen” should be allowed to go on strike — which is illegal in most places for uniformed services.

“Because of the problems with question design, my advice would be simply to disregard the Rasmussen Reports poll, and to view their work with extreme skepticism going forward,” Silver concluded.

Rasmussen, fending off years of criticisms of harboring a Republican-leaning bias, is taken very seriously by the mainstream press. Its founder and president, Scott Rasmussen, has openly supported conservative causes and is a former writer for the conspiracy-minded website World Net Daily.

It released hundreds of surveys in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections, many of which made prominent news in major outlets. The Times reported that Rasmussen “overestimated the standing of Republican candidates by roughly 4 percentage points on average.”

“Rasmussen should probably just drop the pretense that they are non-partisan,” Silver wrote Monday on Twitter.

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  • mjcc1987

    Rasmussen is an arm of Fake News. Not even sure Rasmussen actually does polls. They just make shit up for Fake News and the Koch sisters.

  • Anonymous

    Filed under “D” for “Duh….”

    Regardless, thanks to Nate Silver — a bona fide polling force (even when I don’t like the message) — for calling them out.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    If this was supposed to have been a secret, it has to have been the most open one since revealing that Brigitte Bardot spoke French..

  • http://twitter.com/kwestfall kwestfall

    So looking forward to 2012… Pro private sector candidates will win the day!

  • Anonymous

    Wow NYT, you are really on top of things. Rasmussen is biased toward conservatives, no fing way!

  • Anonymous

    Good for Nate! I am always suspicious of polls in general as I know a person can make polls and numbers say what ever they want. It really helps put them in perspective when I see who’s poll it is and how the questions were asked. I wish the republican voters understood the polling process as they might not believe everything they are told if they did.

  • Anonymous

    I like Nat Silver, but have you ever noticed when he is on TV he always looks stoned!

  • BrainRagYell

    And what if he is?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/3NVQSZZC5IM66JEOCSFJUV7FCE Jacques G

    Their new slogan,” Rasmussen: Fake and Imbalanced!” If their founder and President runs a right wing website, that alone should give even the least astute observer a hint.

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ hounddogg

    Pew is just as bad…i don’t really trust any of them but Zogby is the most credible…

  • Anonymous

    Methinks the NYT has it’s own biases for the conservatives too!

  • Anonymous

    Is Rasmussen the most accurate poll over that last decade? Answer yes. So who cares what they ask they seem to be getting the numbers right and thats all that matters whether you agree or not

  • NadePaulKuciGravMcKi

    federal reserve
    treasury dept
    wall street

  • 7rob7

    “Answer yes.”

    Answer, no, actually. Rasmussen’s cooked numbers are never accurate since they’re, you know, cooked. Did you miss this, or choose to ignore it?

    “Rasmussen “overestimated the standing of Republican candidates by roughly 4 percentage points on average.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Thomas-Lee-Brown/1522418996 Thomas Lee Brown

    Thank you, Captain Obvious.

  • 7rob7

    Hold on thar, Babalouie…. Rasmussen biased??!!?!!??? Get out! Srsly?

    Geez… next I bet they’ll try to tell us water is wet (when in it’s liquid form.)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dorothy-Banks/100001470098554 Dorothy Banks

    Polls are for the gullible, such as the media, Stepford pundits and the general public seeking affirmation of their beliefs or assumptions. Polls are skewed to fit the needs of whoever commissioned the pollster. They do not poll citizens who may give them directions to go east, when they (the pollster) wants to south. In other words, they don’t call a southern teabagger to get a favorable response regrading President Obama.

    I worked for two days as a political pollster. The questions were rigged to get a specific response. Some people said what they thought we wanted to hear; others wanted an explanation of the questions. We were not allowed to delve into explanations. Answers other than yes, no, maybe, not sure or likely were unacceptable. When I questioned the questions and how they were worded, I was terminated after lunch on my second day.

    That’s the reason I don’t believe polls, and I get irritated when I hear the media and Stepford pundits gleefully repeating the rigged nonsense.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    Rasmussen= World Net Daily “Trust us, we’re you”

  • Anonymous

    Rassmussen polls have been found by Republicans to be truthier than the others.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    but not the election

  • Anonymous

    I think you have to throw out the Bush elections because Rasmussen’s supposed vote count “correctness” was predicated on insider information from Karl Rove on how much the voting machines were rigged for Bush to win by! Had Rasmussen not had the fraudulent and rigged numbers from Rove in the first place it’s hard to say what Rasmussen would have predicted or who would have been president.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    Push polls influence outcomes.

  • Anonymous

    Subliminal messaging and memes are being pushed out by the oligarchy all the time. GEs dancing elephant commercials are the latest outragious example. Skewed polling by using talking points instead of reasoned questions. Deliberately misreporting or misrepresenting financial info. People have to read multiple sources for information to see through the propoganda ministry flak. Control information and you have absolute power.

  • H.P. Loathecraft

    “Stepford pundits” LOL

  • Anonymous

    You’re right about Rasmussen probably not even doing polls. In the case of the 2004 election they simply told people what Karl Rove told them. Since he had the voting machines and the numbers rigged, to produce certain results as long as they stuck with Rove’s numbers they couldn’t miss!

  • cannotvote

    Where there’s money there’s corruption – polls are for money, therefore corrupt!

  • Anonymous

    How could anyone with half a brain NOT know that Rasmussen is biased towards the right?

  • Anonymous

    Everything else in the U$ is for sale to the highest bidder – why not the polls as well, especially considering the crucial role they can play in the “electoral” process? (They set the expectations to coincide with the results of the rigged electronic system.) It’s disgusting, and incomprehensible to someone outside the U$: a trillion dollar tax cut for the obscenely wealthy, and no more money for starving moms and their kids? – no more help with heating oil for the poor? Charles Dickens, roll over, along with Beethoven. The U$ is morally bankrupt at last! A bit of unsolicited advice: Get out, before they seal the borders!

  • Ma’at

    Isn’t it amazing how it takes the “press” about 5 years to discover what we already know.

    Rasmussen was (as rated by Silver who even conservatives respect) near the bottom of pollsters in 2008 and 2010. And the only reason they were rated well before is they pushed the Conservative narrative and then fell in line two weeks before the election to make themselves loo good.

    I wish media would stop citing them and using them in poll compilations. Rasmussen is known all over (except for the useful idiot TeaBags) as a joke.

  • Ma’at

    Eben Nate Silver has questioned if they really do polls.

  • Ma’at

    I agree about Nate. He is absolutely to be trusted even when I don’t like the results of what he is saying … like the 2010 elections. He said it was going to be very bad for the Dems and he was correct.

    If Nate says it, you are wise to not bet against it.

  • Anonymous

    Rasmussen rent a polls biased?
    Say it isn’t so.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    All I can say is that I hope my tax dollars are not being used to do polls on the obvious. One of these days, these morons are going to do a pole to tell me that sun only comes out during the day.

  • Johnny Warbucks

    You mean World Nut Daily, don’t you?

  • Anonymous

    LOL Stop the presses, also Nate did this research right after the election so the LIBERAL NYT is all over it immediately!

  • http://harry-canary.myopenid.com/ Harry Canary

    The liberal NYT must be different from the New York Times which is radically CONservative as opposed to the murdoch garbage wrappers which are outright fascist.

  • Anonymous

    NYT is just now saying this about Rasumssen? Do they have any reporters left, or just highly-paid blogger-like opinion writers (with less credibility)?

  • ghostof911

    And the more money Rasmussen gets paid, the truthier they are.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing! It was an observation! I just get a kick out of it! Like I said I like Nate! I think he is very honest and correct. Just think if he IS [and I don't know if he is] stoned he is a lot smarter than most people not on dope!

  • Anonymous

    Wold Net Daily “conspiracy minded?”


  • David R Velasquez

    The only reliable polls seem to university conducted. Unless we’re talking about evangelist oriented ones.

  • mick

    The smartest Americans are the ones that live over seas …

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/KHUGSYMRDZ635QMFO5P6UA5MTM nunya

    Is it any wonder that Assmussen polls are almost always way off, and nearly always favoring the right wing point of view? The reason for this, of course, is that like all right wingers, Assmussen isn’t the least bit interested in any “truth” save their own.

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ Stumptownhero

    Do you know how you start a large snowball rolling down hill? Yep, that’s right yas start with a small one which you give a little help down the hill.

    This is just what Rasmussen does. They fudge the numbers just a little to give their side momentum from which Faux News and the right wing sound machine trumpets as PROOF that their side has the public behind their perspective which builds more momentum and influences the successive polling which then gives Faux News and the right wing hate talkers more “evidence” that the American P E O P L E are supporting the NEOCON position.

    Rasmussen needs to be called out and discredited least they are taken as a serious polling organization.

  • Anonymous

    The polls aren’t here to inform you how things are, the polls are here to set the stage for whatever ideology “must be pushed”.

    They depend (successfully) on the sheep mentality of people. They look at the polls and they want to identify themselves with the majority, because they are “afraid” they may hang out of the line if they are the minority.

    It’s a simple basic mind control, and only those, who allow themselves to be controlled. Unfortunately most Americans are just like that.

    If you look back at the polls..there is always a 50+ percent who said this, another 40 something who said the opposite and there is a “minority” of 5-6 percent who said “neither”.

    The 5-6 percent is usually the ones being right most of the time, believe me.

    And it’s logical too. Looking at the level of education and USA’s place on the world stage in science scores and math and just general knowledge (reading maps, reading (!), writing, history) makes the majority the ones being dumb and stupid.

    Another thing about the polls. They don’t have to manipulate or falsify the numbers. The magic to cheat is done by carefully selecting the candidates for the polls and carefully crafting the questions leading to a favorable outcome to whatever outicome they want to achieve.

    So basically…


  • Anonymous

    There used to be a web site called pollster.com that would conglomerate all the poll results so you could get some sort of idea what is going on without trusting any of them. Alas they got sucked into the huffpo media machine.

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ Stumptownhero

    Whatever it takes to sell papers and drive site traffic.

    World Net Daily the political version of the Globe. They couldn’t be compared to the Inquirer because the Inquirer CONFIRMS their stories with MULTIPLE sources!

  • http://www.rawstory.com/ Stumptownhero

    That is the PURPOSE of Rasmussen’s “polling results” There results are defacto push polls to give a FALSE impression of American opinion.

    OBTW they like most of the other traditional polling firms have yet to figure out a way to get a RANDOM sample of cell phone numbers of the 15% (and growing) of Americans who ONLY have a cell phone!

  • Anonymous

    rasmussen is expert at twisting a question into a pretzel

  • Anonymous

    Stop the presses!!

    This is nothing new!!

  • Anonymous

    LOL true!

  • Anonymous

    no regulatory process that I know of for polling firms. Anything is possible. They can say what ever thay want just like MSM and shoul;d be taken with a grain of salt.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MSVG73USMG342DWORQKIEJ6HVQ Bob

    I’ve conducted a poll and everyone loves ice cream!

  • Anonymous

    or to tell you that the “Tide comes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication!”

  • Anonymous

    Question 2:
    2* Does the average public employee in your state earn more than the average private sector worker in your state, less than the average private sector worker in your state or do they earn about the same amount?

    Better than average, as they do in all states. 10 n% LESS than comparably educated workers in the private sector. And the gaps widens to 25% as the level of education goes up.

    As heard on NPR

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Zentrails/100001475536421 Bob Zentrails

    So, finally we find out exactly what Karl Rove meant when he said

    “you’re entitled to your math. I’m entitled to “the” math.”

    He was referring to “Rasmusson Math.”

    “The math” = push polling and cell phone bias with a dash of pull numbers out of your butt.

  • Jeebus

    Zogby is shitty too.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Nice to hear someone with a little clout actually say it out loud. The techniques that have developed for polling have been refined so carefully that they pretty much guarantee whatever outcome the pollster desires…making modern polls all but useless as anything other than fodder for talking heads with an equally veiled interest in crowing about the results. We’re so polarized that a 1% advantage is considered a mandate by the time the news cycle grabs hold of it. A better remedy would be to dismiss polling as irrelevant altogether and move forward from there.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/L5PHKRPFHK3LLTRDNVH2ZBIWOA Cal

    “fending off years of criticisms of harboring a Republican-leaning bias, is taken very seriously by the mainstream press”.

    Who the hell pays any attention to the ‘mainstream’ press?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_IOO5JIYNYXAHBUJRQR6ZV33RVY gail

    Rasmussen were pretty dead-on at one time but with success came the desire to control outcomes.

  • Anonymous

    Rasmussen biased? Not exactly breaking news.

  • Anonymous

    “Rasmussen, fending off years of criticisms of harboring a Republican-leaning bias, is taken very seriously by the mainstream press.”

    Doesn’t that imply that the mainstream press harbors a Republican-leaning bias?

    What a surprise. Guess some people are still just now figuring that one out. Next they’ll be telling us GWB lied us into a war and raped the economy, among other devious things. And the sheeple will be TOTALLY surprised.