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  Rasmussen Polls Were Biased and Inaccurate; Quinnipiac, SurveyUSA Performed Strongly
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ContributorArmyDem 
Last EditedArmyDem  Nov 05, 2010 09:39am
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CategoryAnalysis
News DateThursday, November 4, 2010 05:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy NATE SILVER

Every election cycle has its winners and losers: not just the among the candidates, but also the pollsters.

On Tuesday, polls conducted by the firm Rasmussen Reports — which released more than 100 surveys in the final three weeks of the campaign, including some commissioned under a subsidiary on behalf of Fox News — badly missed the margin in many states, and also exhibited a considerable bias toward Republican candidates.

Other polling firms, like SurveyUSA and Quinnipiac University, produced more reliable results in Senate and gubernatorial races. A firm that conducts surveys by Internet, YouGov, also performed relatively well.

What follows is a preliminary analysis of polls released to the public in the final 21 days of the campaign. Our process here is quite simple: we’ve taken all such polls in our database, and assessed how accurate they were, on average, in predicting the margin separating the two leading candidates in each race. For instance, a poll that had the Democrat winning by 2 percentage points in a race where the Republican actually won by 4 would have an error of 6 points.

We’ve also assessed whether a company’s polls consistently missed in either a Democratic or Republican direction — that is, whether they were biased. The hypothetical poll I just described would have had a 6 point Democratic bias, for instance.

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