April 27, 2006

Another Story in the RIC Poll

Carroll Andrew Morse

Anchor Rising commenter Oz points out the most obvious flaw in the results of yesterday’s Rhode Island College statewide political poll

So they polled 364 registered voters and 107 said they would vote in the republican primary.

That's a 29% participation rate.

There are roughly 660,000 registered voters in RI.

Are we to believe that 191,000 people are going to vote in the republican primary?

To put it into context, that is nearly 150,000 more than the record for a republican primary.

How can the obviously nonsensical result be explained? The answer, I suspect, is that there are many people uncomfortable admitting to a stranger on the telephone that they are unlikely to vote.

Now, if I believe what everybody tells me about Rhode Island -- that the state has insurmountable Democratic sympathies -- when I ask people to quickly answer "what primary will you be voting in”, I should expect to hear “Democratic” most of the times that I get an answer, right? Yet, the RIC poll shows an answer of “Republican” almost as often as an answer of “Democratic” to this question.

If likely non-voters were just pulling a party name out of the air, then there should have been an overprojection of likely Democratic voters that was at least as large as the overprojection of likely Republican voters. This didn't occur. To an order of magnitude, the poll correctly estimates the number of likely Democratic voters. This means that as many Rhode Islanders identify with the Republicans as with the Democrats, but that the state party has been unable to engage about 150,000 voters who should be part of the Republican base.

To build a long-term coalition, the state party -- including the Chafee campaign -- should be focusing figuring out what those 150,000 Republican-leaning but disengaged voters feel they're not getting from either party, instead of focusing on turning Democrats into Republicans for just a day.

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The poll had a seperate question for party identity. The majority of these new voters aren't Republican supporters, they're just reflecting Laffey's high negatives.

I believe the results are pretty accurate.

Posted by: Mario at April 27, 2006 10:51 PM

This so-called poll was an extremely amatuerish attempt to do the near impossible, which is to guess how tens of thousands of non-affiliated people might vote, based on the momentary whims of a few hundred people. A margin of error of 9% (for a spread of 18%) isn't remotely close to the standards of any political poll. It wasn't conducted in any meaningful statistically accurate way and therefore isn't worth the paper that it wasn't printed on.

Thanks to Andrew for pointing out the numerous flaws in how it was conducted. I'm guessing it was done for a reason other than to get an accurate answer. I wonder if politics might be involved?

Posted by: Will at April 28, 2006 12:47 AM

Politics, Will?

No way. Not in Rhode Island.

I mean, it's not like the Director of the RIC Bureau of Government and Research Services (Victor Profughi, who conducted the poll) gave a campaign contribution to a Democratic candidate for office (Joseph Wells.)

At the very least, Bakst, West and others who claim to be neutral refrain from giving political contributions.

Beyond the fact that this poll is useless, it's also tainted.

Posted by: oz at April 28, 2006 8:17 AM