The Worst Poll in America

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 21 2014 10:20 AM

The Worst Poll in America

492488599-senate-republican-leader-sen-mitch-mcconnell-speaks-to
His margin of victory, Gravis Marketing would have you believe.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

There's always one, and so far in 2014, Gravis Marketing is in the lead for the prestigious Strategic Vision Award for Botched Polling. In Texas, its final poll of Sen. John Cornyn's primary gave him a weak 43–28 lead over Rep. Steve Stockman. This was 25 points off—Cornyn beat Stockman, one of the laziest campaigners in recent Texas memory, by a 59–19 margin. (Other anti-Cornyn candidates split the rest.)

In Kentucky, Gravis closed out with a poll that found Mitch McConnell up by 14 points—48 to 34 over Matt Bevin. When I met Bevin at CPAC, he pointed out (not incorrectly) that he was burning a trail across the state, quite a contrast to Stockman. Gravis was slightly less wrong this time, as Bevin won 35 percent of the vote. But McConnell won 60 percent, for a 25-point margin that more than doubled Gravis'. The poll that gives the most hope to insurgents does so by being wildly off.

Advertisement

I called Gravis's Doug Kaplan, who explained the results. Gravis called up voters who planned to participate in the primary, but didn't screen for people who'd voted in previous primaries. (There was a highly contexted, Tea Party-powered primary as recently as the 2011 gubernatorial race.) "We should have done that," Kaplan said. "In crosstabs, if you look at Republicans only, we nailed that -- McConnell was at 60 percent."

Also, according to Kaplan, "We did another poll a few weeks who which was much accurate."

We changed the criteria on this poll. The undecideds went up. The poll was not even supposed to be released. Human events provided the campaign a copy of the poll for comment. Since we changed the method I was not going to release. The campaign released the poll without our authorization. They put it on their website. Huffington post then called. I had no choice but to release. 

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

Florida State’s New President Is Underqualified and Mistrusted. He Just Might Save the University.

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 11:51 PM Should You Freeze Your Eggs? An egg freezing party is not a great place to find answers to this or other questions.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.