Rasmussen Reports has stopped pretending.
Known since its origin in 2003 as a conservative market-research firm standing out from the crowd of political pollsters by standing to its right, Rasmussen has dropped the act. Instead it has been embraced without shame the role of unwavering loyal subject to Donald Trump.
Investigative journalism is not required to undercover how Rasmussen has morphed from pollsters to propagandist. One just needs to visit its Twitter account.
There, more than ever before, the verified account for Rasmussen Reports churns out daily dozens of pro-Trump tweets and retweets. On October 30 alone, the site published 45 of them.
This from an organization labeling itself “an independent electronic media company specializing in the collection and publication of public opinion polling information.” And however outrageous that description, Rasmussen is routinely bestowed a title like “pollster” or “polling firm” when its “findings” received coverage in the mainstream media it openly despises.
Almost daily, Rasmussen issues rosy and irrational approval-ratings numbers claiming that 51 percent or more Americans view Trump’s performance favorably in its Tweets. These are typically introduced as follows: “ICYMI: Here are #Trump’s daily job approval for today! Sponsored by @liberty nation Conservative News Where Truth Matters.”
In case you hadn’t guessed, Liberty Nation’s website offers enough wingnut weirdness to make Donald Trump Jr. blush. The only days its sponsorship is not proclaimed by Rasmussen with an exclamation point are the rare ones not trumpeting great news for Trump.
How absurd is some of the propaganda spewing from Rasmussen’s Twitter account daily? Hey, did you know that 46 percent of Black people approve of Trump and that 31 percent are planning to vote for him, in contrast to the 8 percent who did so in 2016. Really? Must have been Trump’s embrace of the Proud Boys than won over so many Black voters.
Rasmussen Reports doesn’t confine itself to polling topics. On October 28, it retweeted a Fox News account bashing a Vanity Fair feature on Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a subject that hadn’t been polled at all. There have been dozens of retweets in the past two weeks--some not even linked to polling--in which Rasmussen attempts to fill its patriotic duty to spread Russian disinformation about Hunter Biden.
After the presidential debate there was this: “Joe Biden won’t ban fracking. He’ll merely “transition” it out of existence with strangling regulation.” No link to polling. No retweet. Just Rasmussen venting Trump talking points with no context.
Rasmussen routinely retweets the likes of Michelle Malkin, Tucker Carlson, John Stossel, Patrick Buchanan, The Gateway Pundit and others from the furthest reaches of the right-wing galaxy. Sometimes the retweets feature some pearl of weirdness from Rasmussen to amplify whatever garbage it’s dumping.
Malkin’s headline “The Mobilization of the Mob” is highlighted by Rasmussen, as was Stossel’s “Don’t Freak Out!” and routinely Rasmussen will add an original “this is quite something” in quote-retweeting whatever twist of the mind has activated that creepy squint of Carlson’s.
Here’s a xenophobic one attributed to a Black Republican: “President Trump & Black Men are in sync on suspending immigration: Excess labor supply is particularly harmful to workers at the margin between employment & unemployment…disproportionately represented by historically disadvantaged groups, including African Americans. “
Rasmussen even adopts Trump-speak in Tweets unattributed to anyone, such as the way it calmly presented its alleged poll results on October 26: “BREAKING: President Donald Trump TAKES LEAD Over Joe Biden in Rasmussen Daily 'White House Watch' -- 4 Point Swing in ONE WEEK.” Nice use of CAPS LOCK there.
Here’s a miniscule afterthought: Even the detail that Rasmussen doesn’t identify itself with an “R” after its name is a gross ethical violation. True, that’s like focusing on a murderer’s history of traffic tickets, but even right-wingers such as the Trafalgar Group observe that one.
“No professional polling firm would show such support for one candidate over the other,” Kenneth Warren, St. Louis University professor of political science and a pollster widely cited nationally. “This is unethical, violating AAPOR's best practices for pollsters. Rasmussen is clearly out of line here.”
The AAPOR stands for the American Association For Public Opinion Research. Space does not permit a recounting of how badly Rasmussen tramples the standards of its presumed industry. Here’s just one: “We will not misrepresent our research or conduct other activities (such as sales, fundraising, or political campaigning) under the guise of conducting research.”
There are many ways to describe Rasmussen Reports. Terms such as propagandist, enabler, liar, charlatan, wingnut and xenophobe spring to mind. Picking the best descriptive might be a fine subject for a public-opinion poll. Lacking that, use just about any phrase you’d like.
Just don’t call Rasmussen Reports a pollster.