by desmoinesdem, Tue Jun 29, 2010 at 03:25:43 PM EDT
Markos Moulitsas fired Research 2000 as the pollster retained by Daily Kos a few weeks ago after R2K fared poorly in "pollster ratings" compiled by FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver. At the time I wondered whether Markos reacted a bit harshly, since Silver himself admitted, "The absolute difference in the pollster ratings is not very great." In addition, some polling experts had raised questions about Silver's rating system (see also here).
Today Markos published a remarkable analysis of "problems in plain sight" with Research 2000's polling. Three researchers uncovered "extreme anomalies" in certain results and concluded, "We do not know exactly how the weekly R2K results were created, but we are confident they could not accurately describe random polls." You should click over and read the whole thing, but here are the anomalies in question:
1. A large set of number pairs which should be independent of each other in detail, yet almost always are either both even or both odd.Markos has renounced "any post we've written based exclusively on Research 2000 polling" and asked polling sites to "remove any Research 2000 polls commissioned by us from their databases."
2. A set of polls on separate groups which track each other far too closely, given the statistical uncertainties.
3. The collection of week-to-week changes, in which one particular small change (zero) occurs far too rarely. This test is particularly valuable because the reports exhibit a property known to show up when people try to make up random sequences.
Based on the report of the statisticians, it's clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don't know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can't trust it. Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation.
Last year the Strategic Vision polling firm was brought down by convincing allegations that at least some of its polling results had been fabricated. Research 2000 had a much better reputation than Strategic Vision, though. Markos listed some of the news organizations that have commissioned R2K polls. I am seeking comment from KCCI-TV (the CBS affiliate in Des Moines), which has used R2K in the past. I will update this post if I hear back about their future plans regarding commissioned polls.
Share any relevant thoughts in this thread.