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The NYT and CBS Take a Step Down in Polling

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The science of public opinion polling is discussed on this blog from time to time.  I have been critical occasionally of the way poll questions have been worded, but the major news organizations to date have at least used valid polling methodology.  That's about to change, apparently, according to this post by Peyton M. Craighill and Scott Clement at The Fix, the WaPo's political blog:

A new state election polling collaboration between the New York Times, CBS News and internet pollster YouGov has drawn an unusual public rebuke from the leading organization of survey researchers, adding fuel to a fiery debate over what makes a poll "good" or "bad".

The American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) criticized the Times and CBS for its state polling with YouGov, saying the survey methods used by the polls has "little grounding in theory" and a lagging disclosure of methodological details required to assess the poll's quality. In addition, AAPOR chided the Times for removing its published set of poll reporting standards which had mostly barred the use of opt-in internet surveys -- like those used by YouGov--  by the newsroom and replacing it with a note explaining that it has begun a process to review its polling standards.*
I will venture a prediction that polls on crime issues that are based on self-selected samples from the Internet will show a large and immediate jump in the direction of soft-on-crime positions.
*Full disclosure: Washington Post pollsters, Peyton Craighill and Scott Clement, are members of AAPOR. Neither was involved in AAPOR's statement regarding CBS News, New York Times and YouGov polls.

One good thing about polling is that when it is used to predict elections we have empirical validation.  Call a few elections wildly wrong and people will know you are full of baloney and stop paying attention to you.

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