Daily KOS

Another R2K Smoking Gun: Bargain Basement Pricing

In my previous post on Kos and Research 2000 I noted how weird it was that Kos could afford to commission dozens of campaign polls given that by (his own admission) he runs a low seven-figure operation and the polls are likely far from his main traffic driver -- though I'm sure they don't hurt eyeballs-wise.  

I put this question to a pollster, who said R2K's claimed methodology and the likely cost of doing such polls legitimately raised immediate red flags. The pollster pointed me to this massive, 2000-person survey limited to Republicans back from January, commenting thusly: 

Take, for instance, their large January 2010 survey aimed at proving Republicans were all kooks.  They did a sample of about 2000 Republicans - a totally absurd sample size, most pollsters wouldn't in good conscience have a client pursue a survey of that size unless they had microtargeting aims and really needed a lot of subsample detail.  Unless you really, really want a big sample for the smaller cells (say, you want 100 interviews from female Hispanic Republicans age 18-34) there's no reason to do a survey of that size.  1000 interviews will do for a national. Sometimes we go up to 1250 with our bigger clients who really need that level of detail on a few key subsamples.  The difference in margin of error from 1000 (+/- 3.1%) and 2000 (about +/- 2%) is not a huge deal, not worth spending 2x as much on a poll.

Now, even weirder, it is just of Republicans, AND it wasn't done from a listed sample.  When you want to do a survey of, say, primary voters in a statewide, a listed/voter file sample is a totally acceptable practice because the alternative is unbelievably costly.  Think about it - not only did they call 2000 people, but they randomly dialed people, and turned away anyone who didn't identify as a Republican.  This will crush your incidence rate (meaning the number of folks who pick up the phone who are eligible to take the survey) and send costs through the roof.  We're talking at least tripling the costs.  

A survey of the length of that January 2010 survey, about 25 short-ish questions, plus a handful of demographics, is probably about a 10 minute questionnaire (I'm just eyeballing it and assuming an introductory statement and guessing on the # of demos asked, I could be off by a few minutes).  Fielding a 10 minute questionnaire to 1000 registered voters is going to run you in the $25-30 range.  Fielding a 10 minute questionnaire to 2000 voters? Probably 45-55.  But with the crazy drop in incidence caused by the Republican screener?  That survey could not have been done for less than six figures.  Period.  

Remember now that Research 2000 never claimed to be a robo-polling outfit. They claimed they did live interviews. And most polls are of likely voters, not registered voters. More screening means more cost. As far as what R2K claimed was its methodology, we're pretty much talking the Cadillac in terms of what the polls should cost. 

So, the question is did Kos really pay high five-figures, or low-six figures, for a single poll to drive eyeballs to one or two blog posts to prove Republicans are nuts? Huh?

I'm guessing no. I'm guessing R2K sold it to him for far less, say $10,000? And anyone with a rudimentary understanding of polling would have known you can't do a poll like this for that amount of money. So the question now is what this says about what Kos should have known about this. Is he so rich he can drop 100K on a single poll to drive a single day's news cycle -- something not even the major networks would do? Is he simply gullible? Or was he negligent in not checking out what what I can only guess were R2K's absurd price quotes compared to live operator pollsters? 

It wasn't just (relatively) deep-pocketed new media sources like Daily Kos who were spending money on Research 2000 polls. R2K did polling for state-level liberal blogs like Blue Mass Group in the run up to the Massachusetts special election. On January 14, R2K produced a poll showing Coakley with an 8-point lead (while other polls were showing Brown pulling ahead), and in touting the "good" news, Blue Mass Group proudly noted that "Research 2000 does live interviews, unlike robo-pollsters Rasmussen and PPP." My polling source had this response: 

A simple ballot test and a handful of demographics wouldn't be very long.  But even if that was only a 4 minute survey, you're still talking at least at least 6-8 grand for the raw interviewing costs without any additional markup. 

Did a Massachusetts progressive blog pay more than $6,000 for a top-of-the-line survey when maybe a half dozen other pollsters were polling the race by that point? Really? This begs the question of what Blue Mass Group really paid. And what did Kos really pay? And if the numbers are within what seems like their modest budgets (by mainstream media standards), it should have raised red flags if they did any shopping around for other pollsters. 

The Kos-R2K Affair

Daily Kos has sued Research 2000, its former pollster, for fraud. On the surface, the allegations seem a lot like the case Nate Silver made against Strategic Vision. In essence, when you're making up the numbers, odd biases and consistencies tend to creep in. You tend to favor certain numbers over others. The crosstabs, even on ridiculously small sub-samples, look too "clean." The report detailing the allegations is here

The one R2K poll on a race that I was working that now seems to make perfect "sense" in light of this new information is the poll of the California Senate race two and a half weeks before the primary that showed Tom Campbell building a 15 point lead in the GOP primary while polling on adjacent field dates showed Carly Fiorina building a 20 point lead. I recall thinking that if there had genuinely been 35 points of movement in 48 hours (absent some major cataclysmic event, which there hadn't been), that'd be virtually unprecedented in the history of polling. If one were to make up a poll lead, a 15 point Campbell lead made sense if one looked at the past movement in the polls, but not in terms of what was actually happening on the ground at that point. It all makes a lot more sense now. 

A lot of folks are trying to point to the root causes of this seeming debacle (including slamming robo-polls, which I think is off-base given the accuracy of outfits like SurveyUSA and PPP) but it will be interesting to see what the coming lawsuit(s) reveal about the relationship between Daily Kos and R2K. R2K was around prior to Daily Kos, and my vague recollection is that there was nothing out of line about its polling prior to its Kos contract. I could be wrong, but their polls seemed to play it up the middle. When an R2K poll came out in a previous election year, I didn't automatically assume a Democratic skew like I would a CBS/New York Times poll or a Newsweek poll. Yet the moment they signed up with Kos, all their results seemed to skew towards Obama and Congressional Democrats, starting with their 2008 Presidential tracking poll. Their 2010 polling was if anything worse, skewing several points toward Democratic Senate candidates, though their numbers in primaries seemed right, at least until the end when they disintegrated upon close contact with actual results. 

At some point when I raised this previously, it was mentioned that R2K was simply assuming a turnout model closer to Obama 2008. If so, who would be pushing them to do that? R2K? Or Kos?

Did Markos tell R2K to produce fraudulent polls showing Democrats up? Clearly not. Could R2K have simply been too eager to please their client, producing skewed results and making stuff up to boot? That seems more likely. Either way, R2K's newfound pro-Democratic skew had the effect of skewing the polling averages in a way that even Strategic Vision (which performed "better" on 538's Pollster Ratings) didn't. 

Another question to me is the volume of polling that R2K produced for Kos. I have a hard time finding a pollster who was this prolific for an individual client as R2K was for Kos. SurveyUSA has been equally if not more prolific in past cycles -- though not so much this one -- but their clients are different all over the country, usually local TV affiliates. Likewise, pollsters like PPP (D), another highly regarded automated polling operation, will release polling as a promotional vehicle for themselves -- and will potentially pay for it by picking up political clients, or selling questions on a survey otherwise deemed for public release. 

The bottom line is that polling, even automated polling, is expensive, and especially at the volumes R2K and Kos were doing. It's hard for me to believe that Kos's polling bills wouldn't have run into the deep six figures, which seems like an awfully big chunk of his $1 million (give or take) in revenue. I'm not the expert here, but it seems to me that more deep-pocketed media organizations haven't commissioned nearly this much polling (national networks release like, what, once a month?). Perhaps the unit cost was getting to be too low, and R2K's margins were getting squeezed by their arrangement with Kos, so they simply made it up. Either way, the damage to the credibility of the polling industry and the polling's effect on conventional wisdom, was fait accompli. 

UPDATE: Research 2000 claimed they did live interviews, and were not robo-polling. Live interviews are naturally more expensive. Which means they must have pitched Kos on a ridiculously low cost per poll. Was this not in itself a red flag?

CT 5. GOP candidate Justin Bernier used Kos's fraudulent pollster

By now the world has heard that the principal behind the Daily Kos website is suing his old pollster for selling him doctored surveys.

Now one is likely to grab the popcorn and watch the top liberal blogger eat crow and take his pollster to court, but a Republican also hired Research 2000 to get polls promoting his agenda.  And much as Kos determined his pollster was manufacturing polls to tell him what he wanted to hear, I suspect that the same game was afoot here in CT 5.

In January, candidate Justin Bernier released a poll to the press with great fanfare. This poll purported to tell people that surprisingly Bernier, a first time candidate. was more electable in the 5th District than an incumbent state Senator, Sam Caligiuri.  

According to results released by Maryland-based polling company Research 2000 on Jan. 10, voters in the state’s 5th Congressional District favor Bernier over rival Sam Caligiuri by a margin of 36 percent to 15 percent

Somehow, an elected official from the district's largest city would lose two to one to a first time candidate who wasn't a statewide celebrity. Go figure.  The smell test simply wasn't passed with this poll.

If the intent of the Research 2000 poll was to cause Republican activists to flock to Bernier over Caligiuri it was an epic fail. Caligiuri defeated Bernier over 2 to 1 at the convention causing Bernier to soldier on to a primary August 10. Either 200 of 300 delegates didn't believe the poll or an accurate poll would find them unrepresentative of the communities that sent them to the convention.   My nickel then was on the bad poll theory.  I've been proven right. 

Perhaps Bernier's decision to primary Caligiuri was based on believing this poll. If so , he ought to reconsider what he is going to achieve continuing a losing contest.  At the very least he ought to do what Kos did and admit he was scammed, and unintentionally tried to sell the press and the public a bill of goods.

The only beneficiary from this is going to be liberal Democrat incumbent Chris Murphy. Which also suggests that using Kos's pollster might perhaps have given the Left an opportunity to toss some disinformation into this race.  When weird things happen, I ask who they help.  The Research 2000 poll was intended to hurt the strongest GOP candidate in CT 5. Occam's razor anyone? 

Surprise! Surprise! Daily Kos Left-wing Extremists On Jack Kemp(RIP)


Almost 500 comments overnight and it isn't even a front page diary.

500 comments for a member diary (that's recommended, by community voting)  is way above average  at Daily Kos.

Front page diaries by the Red State moderates(2, as of now):



Member diaries at Red State (2, as of now):

1 Comment

No Comments

Hardly, any interest. No surprises at The Next Right as well.


2009 Austin Tea Party: What Governor Perry REALLY said.

Greetings all.

The drive-by's are out to make Governor Perry look nuts for his speech at today's morning tea party in Austin.  I just saw an Olbermann segment on the topic.  They're taking Governor Perry so far out of context, it's almost cute.

While the drive by's are trying to portray Governor Perry as some sort of seccessionist nut, the fact is he spoke mostly about how Texas has Low taxes, a Stable Regulatory climate, an educated workforce, Tort Reform, and is the #1 exporter in the United States.  Don't let the drive by's fool you.

I can't find the full speech anywhere, so I'll leave you with this YouTube of the Governor

Update: Here's the full speech.


I hope this helps.

That is all.

Cahnman out.


A question from the late Joseph Welch

On June 9, 1954, an attorney at a nationally televised Senate hearing posed this question to Senator Joseph McCarthy

You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

Over the last 72 hours we've seen the despicable spectacle of some of the most vulnerable people in society subjected to abuse for crass political gain.

A baby born with Down's syndrome  http://ace.mu.nu/archives/272062.php

A pregnant teenager http://rds.yahoo.com/_ylt=A0geu9XHnLxIIz4Amv1XNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTEzOTFjbWRtBHNlYwNzcgRwb3MDMzAEY29sbwNhYzIEdnRpZANIMTg2Xzgz/SIG=13grcod5l/EXP=1220406855/**http%3a//www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php%3faz=view_all%26address=132x6842975

and senior citizens exercising their constitutional right to peaceably assemble


The story is the same, whether it is this decades' high tech lynching of a conservative who doesn't play by the Left's rules; the cyberstalking of 17 year old Bristol Palin or the brute thuggish effort to burn the skin of old men and women in St. Paul.

The point is to punish political opponents, and to victimize the weak and vulnerable as a means to cower the strong.

I fear much of the Left has bought into their own apocalytyptic hype. Therefore, they cannot afford to let the public make a reasoned decision s to the nation's future. They must bully their opponents into submission.

Sadly, the closer we get to winning this election the worse this will get, But the bottom line is, many on the Left don;t  have decency.

I may think the folks at Whole Foods are haughty and naive, but I don;t wish ill on them. But I sense that many of them are quick to disparage the faithful and the patriotic as less worthy than those who have seen the liberal light; thus, they get whatever their brethren dish out.

There is another thing for sure. After the bullies get done picking on the vulnerable, it's the turn for the stronger people to get bullied.



Kos Begins Campaign Against Eric Cantor for VP

A few weeks ago I made the case for John McCain to choose Congressman Eric Cantor for his running mate. Since that time a Cantor candidacy has received quite a bit to support.

Politico, The Washington Post, and (now) Daily Kos are taking Cantor very seriously.

Kos has launched a multi-post attack on the conservative Cantor. This is an indication that the Left understands that the articulate, web-savy, conservative, Mr. Cantor would add an important missing dimension to McCain's campaign. No higher negative campliment can the Left offer a Republican candidate.

Once again, I want to argue that the choice of Cantor will cause the Republican base and a few Democrat constituencies to sit up and finally take notice of the McCain campaign.

Netroots vs. Grassroots

It's official: "netroots" is accepted as a real word by Merriam-Webster dictionary. They provide the following definition: "the grassroots political activists who communicate via the Internet especially by blogs."

While this is a blog where those on the right come to share ideas and disagree, it's always nice to see an online strategy fight between Democrats. Kirsten Powers, registered Democrat, former Clinton administration official and now columnist for the New York Post, today wrote a scathing critique of liberal bloggers like Markos Moulitsas. To give some emphasis to her distaste, the title of the column today is "Net-Roots Ninnies: Dem Left's Dumb Bam Slams." Let's see what Powers has to say:

"One top liberal blogger opined last week that Obama's drop in a recent Newsweek poll resulted from his vote for a compromise on FISA, the intelligence surveillance law. Ridiculous: The average American voter can't describe what FISA is. Meanwhile, a virtual mutiny is taking place on Obama's campaign Web site, which is swamped with angry complaints that Obama has sold out his 'base.' Newsflash to the netroots and the media (which seems perpetually confused on this issue): The netroots are not the base of the Democratic Party. Overwhelmingly white, male and highly educated, they're a loud anomaly in a party that's wholly dependent on the votes of African Americans, women and working-class whites."

I love it! This really does show the central divide in the modern-day Democratic party: the educated white male who voted for Obama in the primaries and the working-class whites who voted for Clinton in the primaries. Matt Bai, from the NYT Magazine, points out something interesting that many who've looked at the numbers also emphasize: "Obama did best in areas that have either a large concentration of African-American voters or hardly any at all, but he struggled in places where the population is decidedly mixed."

When Even Daily Kos Supports an Individual Right to Bear Arms...

If it's true that today's District v. Heller ruling is the first time in U.S. history that the Supreme Court has has directly ruled on meaning of the Second Amendment, it also seems likely to be the last. The battle has carried on for decades in lower courts, but those cases too are likely to be cut short, if not cut off altogether.

But what about the cultural/moral argument? I noted in my previous Next Right post that the left has largely acquiesced to gun rights. They may do so grudgingly, but for all intents and purposes they've given up. Except... that's not what I found on some of the most influential leftroots blogs.

Instead, I found significant agreement with the ruling. Not just that, but matter-of-fact statements of support for an individual right that would have been unthinkable even five years ago.

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