Wednesday, September 23, 2020

What is Going on With Rasmussen?

This election cycle, a number of independent pollsters are publishing national and state polls.  Each of these pollsters, usually engaged by media outlets, use their own methodology and make adjustments to correct for any expected biases in polling sample obtained.  Despite often widely different approaches, these pollsters produce polls that generally differ by only a few points.  

The pollster which has consistently produced polls most favorable to President Trump and the Republicans though is Rasmussen Reports.  Rasmussen uses an automated dialing system to conduct its surveys.  The methodology Rasmussen uses is explained in more detail here.

Still Rasmussen's polls were not that far off what other pollsters have been producing.  Then suddenly things a couple weeks ago things seem to take a dramatic turn.  On September 10th, Rasmussen had Trump's "approval index" at -9 (Rasmussen's "approval index" is equal to strongly approve - strongly disapprove).  By September 18th, the approval index had risen to +4, a 13 point increase in just 8 days.

Today, Rasmussen has Trump's net approval at 50%.  The RealClearPolitics average is 44.7%.  Rasmussen likewise has documented a dramatic improvement for Trump in the presidential race.  According to Rasmussen, Biden's national lead is only 1 point.  (Which is actually down from a Trump 1 point lead Rasmussen had just a few days ago, which poll is the only national poll to have Trump leading since February).  The current RCP average has Biden's leading nationally by 7.1.

Looking back at state polls Rasmussen had conducted in September, the results were not far from the results other pollsters were getting:

9/7    Wisconsin          Biden by 8
9/8    Ohio                   Biden by 4
9/10  Michigan            Biden by 8
9/11  North Carolina   Trump by 2

The sudden shift is a bit odd.  However, I'm not the type to think independent pollsters, whose reputations for objectivity are absolutely critical to their financial bottom line, are going to start putting their fingers on the scale to get particular polling results.

But then I stumbled on Rasmussen's official twitter feed.  Wow.  Here is what Rasmussen retweeted in just the past 24 hours or so:

  • Protesters unloading "Abolish the Police" signs from a U-Haul truck
  • A Gateway Pundit article (I kid you not) about U.S. Mail gound in fitch in Greenville, Wisconsin which ,so; apparently included absentee ballots.
  • An article that Hunter Biden received a $3.5 million dollar wire transfer from the wife of the former mayor of Moscow.
  • Another slam on Hunter Biden
  • An article from Talking Points Memo criticizing Democrats for the court-packing idea
  • Promotion of a a book titled "Dumber" about "How Cuomo and DeBlasio Ruined New York"
  • An article calling out liberal bias in the media
  • Commentary by economist Stephen Moore saying Biden's "anti-business agenda would wreck the economy"

I can't begin to tell you how weird this is.  Pollsters zealously cultivate the image of being an umpire, calling balls and strikes like they see them.  Rasmussen though has flushed any appearance of objectivity down the drain.  It is almost as if Rasmussen is clamoring to be noticed ... perhaps by an audience of one? 

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