(SurveyUSA President Jay Leve responds to today’s Ben Smith column in Politico featuring a polling memo by Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz, which questions the validity of the polls they have done for FDL. He previously addressed these same critiques. SurveyUSA polling results can be found on the Elections page.)
In August 2002, SurveyUSA released a poll showing US Senator Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) trailing. No survey to that point had Torricelli behind. An hour after the poll was released, SurveyUSA’s client, CBS-TV in Philadelphia, called SurveyUSA and said, “Put your helmets on. The DSCC is coming after you.” And the DSCC did. The DSCC found a journalist willing to carry the DSCC’s water, and the word went forth: Nothing wrong with Robert Torricelli, plenty wrong with SurveyUSA.
Soon after, Torricelli dropped out of the race. All polls showed Torricelli trailing. On election day, SurveyUSA was the most accurate of 9 competing pollsters in this race.
Fast forward to today: In polls conducted in January 2010, at a time the Democrats were losing the state of Massachusetts, SurveyUSA found incumbent Democrats struggling. The DCCC is unhappy. Partisans start shoveling smack. “Sources” start leaking memos to willing journalists: Nothing wrong with congressional Democrats. Plenty wrong with SurveyUSA.
The highway to high office is littered with the road kill of political operatives who find it easier to campaign against a pollster than an opponent. If the DCCC has polls showing congressional Democrats doing better, release them.
Jay H Leve
President & CEO