City Pages is a Minneapolis-based “alternative weekly” like the Boston Phoenix. A reader has kindly sent us a piece from the current issue on the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll: “Poll Axed.” (The reader, going under the nom de cyber “Lawdog” that he he earned in the Army’s JAG Corps, turns out to be my colleague Peter Swanson, whom we thank for the tip.) The piece itself is completely clueless, but it’s worth taking a look at to see what Rob Daves, the Minnesota Poll’s director, has to say following the election in which his poll seemed to perform particularly poorly.
According to Daves, he did a fine job during the recent election season, including his final pre-election poll that showed Mondale leading Coleman by five points, although Coleman won by three: “Rob Daves, director of the Minnesota Poll, says he thinks his poll was accurate–at least within the 3.2-point margin of error. ‘I’m convinced that the polls done late in the election were pretty good. What they showed, taken in total, was an incredibly volatile electorate. And if you’ve got a volatile environment, then a poll is just a snapshot in time,’ says Daves.”
The final pre-election Pioneer Press poll conducted by the Mason-Dixon polling organization covered the same period of time as the Minnesota Poll, but showed Coleman leading by six points, a result that was actually within the margin of error compared with the election-day results. The Minnesota Poll results and the Pioneer Press poll results cannot both have been accurate “snapshots,” can they? As between the two, the Pioneer Press poll seems to have taken the accurate snapshot. But Daves never finds any ground on which to question his methodology or his results. The guy is impenetrable.
Faithful readers will recall that we tried to blow the whistle on this operation in “The Trouble with Star-Trib Poll.”
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