exit polls

Kos, “Raw Data,” and the Mainstream Media

Michael Collins

When DailyKos publisher and owner Markos Moulitsas demanded that his pollster produce raw data from the polls Moulitsas purchased, he established a principle of election polling transparency that could open up the checkered history of presidential elections in the United States.

The controversy erupted when Moulitsas (kos) fired his polling company.  He was unhappy with their results and demanded that his pollster, Research 2000 (R2000), turn over raw data for review.  Moulitsas said:

“Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis — which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so.”  kos

When R2000 either refused or delayed (there’s disagreement on that), kos took their actions as a sign of “fraudulent polling practices” (from the kos lawsuit).  DailyKos published a searing criticism of R2000 and the National Council on Public Polls supported kos in his demand that R2000 release the raw polling data.  Blogger Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com and the New York Times supported kos, as well.

The request by kos is well justified.  He’d paid for the polling.  Like any customer in this type of arrangement, he had a right to the product of the work done in his behalf.

Reviewing the basis for the polling results, particularly the raw data and the analytic methods, could answer two key questions:  1) were the polls actually conducted and 2) did  the techniques used meet the professional standards of  other polling organizations.

The president of R2000, Del Ali, defended his polling and denied any and all accusations of improper conduct:  “Every charge against my company and myself are pure lies, plain and simple, and the motives as to why Kos is doing it will be revealed in the legal process and not before that.”  Some of the criticisms of R2000 polling methods have been answered by independent analysis at RichardCharnin.com (more…)