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  There's Something Wrong With America's Premier Liberal Pollster
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Last EditedRBH  Sep 12, 2013 10:27pm
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News DateFriday, September 13, 2013 04:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionNo pollster attracts more love and hate than Public Policy Polling. The Democratically aligned polling firm routinely asks questions that poke fun at Republicans, like whether then-Senator Barack Obama was responsible for Hurricane Katrina. Not coincidentally, Republicans routinely accuse them of being biased toward Democrats. Last fall, PPP was front and center in conservative complaints about allegedly skewed polls. But when the election results came in, PPP’s polls were vindicated and the conspiracy-minded critics were debunked.

Pollsters, though, tend to judge one another based more on methodology than record. And for experts and competitors, the firm’s success remains difficult to explain. PPP doesn’t follow many of the industry’s best practices, like calling voters' cell phones; the firm only calls landlines. It discards hundreds of respondents in an unusual process known as “random deletion.” And because PPP's interviewers rely on lists of registered voters—rather than random digit dialing—and simply ask non-voters to hang up the phone, the firm can’t use census numbers to weight their sample, as many other pollsters do. This forces PPP to make more, and more subjective, judgments about just who will be voting.

In PPP’s telling, the Raleigh-based firm overcomes the odds by mastering those subjective judgments, perfecting the art of projecting the composition of the electorate—the same art that eluded Republican pollsters in 2012. If this explanation was satisfying, perhaps PPP could settle into the top-ranked pollster slot without great protest. But PPP’s success, in fact, did not reflect a clairvoyant vision of the electorate. The racial composition of their polls swayed wildly. A recent Georgia poll was just wrong.

After examining PPP’s polls from 2012 and conducting a lengthy exchange with PPP’s director, I've found that PPP withheld controversial elements of its methodology, to the extent it even has one, and treated i
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Date Category Headline Article Contributor
Sep 13, 2013 09:00am Analysis 15 things PPP got right going it alone  Article Penguin 
Sep 13, 2013 06:00am Commentary Polling expert: PPP’s polling practices are in line with the industry norm  Article Karma Policeman