The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll has become somthing of a bete noire for Minnesota conservatives; after the 2002 election, I wrote “The trouble with the Star Trib poll” in an effort to document the problematic history of the poll. In the run-up to the election last Tuesday, we wrote at length about the Minnesota Poll. Our last word on the subject was Rocket Man’s “A howler from the Strib.”
On Saturday I continued the discussion on our Nothern Alliance Radio Network show with Republican insider Sarah Janacek of the “Politics in Minnesota” newsletter. I aired my usual complaints about the Minnesota Poll and erroneously added that the tracking poll available online at the Star Tribune site on election day had not been published in the newspaper.
D.J. Tice is the Star Tribune’s state politics/government editor. He heard me discussing the Minnesota Poll on the air on Saturday and has written both to correct my factual error regarding the tracking poll and to add some perspective to the discussion:
Caught some of your show Saturday, and as always enjoyed it. But I felt I needed to pass on a few observations about the Minnesota Poll.
1) You and Sarah stated that our tracking polls Monday and Tuesday appeared only online, not in the newspaper. That is incorrect. Both tracking polls were in the paper. On Election Day, the narrowing of the margin to 4 points was reported on the front page and graphed in four color on A10, the campaign page.
2) Even setting aside the tracking polls, I think you’re a little hard on our poll this time — at least in seeming to compare it unfavorably with the Pioneer Press [Mason-Dixon] poll. On Sunday, the PP had Bush ahead by 1. We had Kerry ahead by 8. In the end, Kerry won by 3. So they were off by 4 points AND had the winner wrong. We were off by 5 points BUT had the winner right. Neither result was impressive, I’ll grant you, but I don’t think it’s obvious that their outcome was dramatically superior.
3) I think the Star Tribune is trying to do a better job of reflecting the the vagaries of polling and adjusting the way we report our poll. The adjustments have included less prominent and less emphatic headlining, reporting our results in context with the range of poll results in the state, publishing tracking polls in the last days, and so on. All this, I think, is positive and a sign of good faith, and I hope we eventually get some encouragement for it.