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"Pharos Research Group" first came to my attention on Wednesday via a very thin piece in The Hill regarding a new ND-Sen poll purporting to put Democrat Heidi Heitkamp up 49-48 over Rick Berg.

Curious to know more about this firm, I started Googling. In particular, I was intrigued by Pharos's claim (in The Hill's writeup) to have conducted prior ND-Sen polls before. Since we watch all polling like a hawk here at Daily Kos Elections, I was surprised to have never seen a single Pharos poll before—nor even heard of the firm. (The Hill claims that Pharos's principle, Steve Lachtman, is a "former Gallup pollster"—not exactly a ringing endorsement, these days.)

There were extremely few hits for "Pharos Research Group" (in quotation marks) on Google when I first started looking. (Though now there are more, thanks to me—more on that in a moment.) I found their website easily, and I also noticed they had a whole ton of essentially unreleased polls. So I took the liberty of re-uploading all of them to Scribd (which is why there are now more hits when you search their name). You can find them all in one pile here.

So, on top of ND, that's another 7 polls: FL, IN, MT, NE, OH, PA, and the city of San Diego. There was also a national poll I didn't bother with, making nine in total. The more I explored, though, the more red flags I began to notice:

  1. In their methodology statements, Pharos says they used live callers in every instance (and called land lines only, FWIW). That would mean we're talking about, very roughly, at least $100K worth of polling.
  2. In a number of the writeups, they refer, weirdly, to prior polls—often multiple prior polls—they claim not only to have taken but to have released. Example from NE:
    In the Senate race, the race has tightened significantly against the previous three polls we have released. The race is no longer outside the margin of error. In four weeks, Kerrey has managed to chip away at Fischer’s support, and pick upundecideds at a fair rate.
    Like I say, we've never seen a single Pharos poll before, and had never even heard of the firm. (And oh yeah, they somehow have Deb Fischer up just 2 points over Bob Kerrey. That's their craziest result. The rest are all what I'd characterize as leaning Dem—a synopsis is below the fold.)
  3. They report numbers to the hundredths of a percent. This kind of false accuracy is a hallmark of questionable pollsters.
  4. They went to the trouble of testing ND-Gov (and every other imaginable statewide race in all these states) but didn't bother with IN-Gov, for some odd reason.
  5. They mis-spelled Kim Gillan's name as "Gillen" in MT-AL.
  6. Their website "about page" is super-thin and doesn't mention a single name.
  7. They claim to have been in business for some 30 years, but I can't find a single payment to Pharos on CQ's Political MoneyLine.

And that's only what I've learned so far. There may be more reasons for skepticism that I haven't uncovered yet. So I'm curious to know what, if anything, anyone else knows about this firm, and what other red flags you might have spotted in their poll releases or data.

Polling Summary:

FL-Pres: 47-47 Obama (D)
FL-Sen: 55-44 Nelson (D)

IN-Pres: 51-38 Romney (R)
IN-Sen: 46-46 Mourdock (R)

MT-Pres: 47-41 Romney (R)
MT-Sen: 48-46 Tester (D)
MT-Gov: 47-45 Bullock (D)
MT-AL: 47-41 Daines (R)

NE-Pres: 51-41 Romney (R)
NE-Sen: 48-46 Fischer (R)

ND-Pres: 49-39 Romney (R)
ND-Sen: 49-48 Heitkamp (D)
ND-Gov: 63-32 Dalrymple (R)
ND-AL: 54-42 Cramer (R)

OH-Pres: 50-45 Obama (D)
OH-Sen: 52-41 Brown (D)

PA-Pres: 49-46 Obama (D)
PA-Sen: 52-42 Casey (D)

San Diego Pres: 47-41 Obama (D)
San Diego Mayor: 47-41 Filner (D)

6:32 PM PT: Dreaminonempty points out that Pharos's web domain was created only on Oct. 1 of this year, according to a WHOIS search.

7:14 PM PT: I've received an interesting and informative email from Pharos's Steve Leuchtman (not "Lachtman," as The Hill had it). He's given me permission to post it in full:


To answer the questions you raise in order:

1)  Cost is SIGNIFICANTLY lower than that.  Say what you want, we use low cost call centers, cost of polls is nowhere near 100k.

2)  We have been doing prior polls, and releasing to media.  Doesn't get any attention, not one freaking play until this most recent ND Senate poll.

3)  Odd numbers in N (I can explain that if you like).  Report to hundredth because that's what we came up with.  

4)  I live in ND.  I don't live in IND.  The two races are about as competitive.

5)  Right.  Thanks for the correction.

6)  Website is place holder while we complete the more thorough one.  We're primarily in commercial market research, surveys for hospitals, clinics, etc.

7)  I worked at Gallup for a number of years in the 1990s (as you say, right now, not exactly an endorsement).  Michael, my partner, has worked in local politics off and on since the 1980s in CA.

On to the substantive points.

1)  I'm skeptical of the NE Senate numbers too.  I suspect the poll is an outlier.  On the other hand, there hasn't been a ton of polling done on the race.  It is certainly possible it has been tightening.  That said the respondents we got were a little tilted to Dem/Independents, and a little heavy on the 2nd CD, which means it tilts towards Kerrey.

2)  We are relatively new to the political polling business as a business entity, and the basic response to our report releases has been essentially... "you aren't on the aggregators, you aren't serious, we won't report it."

In short, your response seems to be the same as theirs, I haven't heard of them, they must not be real.  Honestly, I understand that.  And honestly, if you want to feel that way, you are welcome to.  The numbers are well inside the trendlines (with the exception of the NE Senate, a number that as I acknowledged, I'm skeptical of as well.)  The voter models are solid, let's compare our results with the election results on 11/6.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them for you.

Thu Oct 25, 2012 at  8:29 AM PT: Leuchtman has provided me with copies of his firm's prior round of polls taken in mid-October. You can download them all here (warning: ZIP file) if you want to take a look.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for raising this (6+ / 0-)

    I was scratching my head earlier when I saw that poll.

    2012: It's about the Supreme Court. Follow me on Twitter @farrellmcmanus

    by HarlemUSA on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 05:45:42 PM PDT

  •  at least you were able to grab a thread... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NM Ward Chair

    A Whale never solidified into a concrete company's website.
    it was total and complete fog, start to end of search.

    * Join: OBAMA'S TRUTH TEAM * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 05:47:07 PM PDT

  •  Never heard of them (9+ / 0-)

    I will say the NE-Sen poll is in line with what a chunk of local activists have been telling me for a few weeks now. I have been skeptical of the phantom poll rumors, but if this group is legit then maybe there is more merit to Kerrey potentially being in this race. His campaign did release an internal last week showing him down five.

    All the other results don't look crazy, but the whole thing looks shady to me.

    Thanks for digging up the dirt.

    •  Local activists (4+ / 0-)

      I've learned to be skeptical of the overly enthusiastic remarks of activists. I remember reading on Daily Kos how great the GOTV effort was in states like Arkansas and West Virginia in 2004, and that Kerry was going to win those states. We all know he didn't.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:52:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well... (7+ / 0-)

        (My first comment in like four years! Wow.)

        I wouldn't say it's just activists. The internals I've been informed of have had it in single digits for at least a month, and the Kerrey campaign just released an internal poll showing them down 5.

        I'm skeptical, not because of Kerrey's number, but because of the Presidential number. I've got no indications that Obama's ahead in the 2nd or within 10 statewide.

        Fischer's running a very soft, below-the-radar campaign, keeping it mostly on the airwaves with attacks on Kerrey. It's a longshot, but I would not be completely shocked if Kerrey pulled it off.

  •  They also have more undecides for Pres than Sen (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alasmoses, MichaelNY, NM Ward Chair

    At least in the majority of these states.  North Dakota's especially stark: 12% are undecided for President and only 3% for Senate.  Does not seem remotely plausible.

    22, male, new CA-18 (home and voting there), new LA-01 (college)

    by Jeff Singer on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 05:50:59 PM PDT

    •  One thing to keep in mind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:


      While we are having it coded both as 3, there is a Gary Johnson vote in MT and ND (anecdotal evidence: in the town of roughly 1000 in which I live in rural SE ND, there are about a half dozen Johnson signs).  One of the problems of sample in small rural states is that the third party candidates can show up and distort the polling.  While Johnson probably won't top 2% in the state, a few committed respondents can skew the numbers.

      Also, while Mark Mellman, who I respect, has an undecided vote in the ND Senate Race of 8%, Rasmussen is at 5%, and the race is absolutely blanketing the air waves.  We are an inexpensive media market, and there are very few undecided voters in the Senate race.

  •  i'm sure you already have this, (0+ / 0-)

    but in case others are curious, read about the poll.

    Published October 20, 2012, 12:00 AM
    Forum Communications poll: Berg has 10-point lead
    North Dakota GOP Senate contender holds advantage over Democrat Heitkamp
    FARGO – Republican U.S. Rep. Rick Berg is leading Democrat Heidi Heitkamp 50 percent to 40 percent – with 10 percent still undecided – in North Dakota’s U.S. Senate race, according to a poll conducted for Forum Communications Co.
    By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM
    ... interesting how close "pharo" and "fargo" came ...

    * Join: OBAMA'S TRUTH TEAM * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:13:57 PM PDT

  •  These guys don't have much of a presence (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, BlueJessamine

    I found this other (I hope) Pharos Research when I Googled them;

    Pharos Research is an equity research firm. The firm covers major equities on the Cairo and Alexandria Stock Exchanges.
    Or this one;

    Pharos Research & Consulting, LLC in Washington, DC is a private company categorized under Consultants-Business (Unclassified). Our records show it was established in and incorporated in District of Columbia.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:15:11 PM PDT

  •  Never heard of them, but I like the polls. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terjeanderson, nycvisionary

    Even the PA one, which at first glance was spooky-close, but it's really closer to 50-45 when you look deeper, anyway. With crappy right wing garbage polls out there this doesn't seem off the wall in terms of results or whatevs.

    I can't believe our election is being decided by people who can't tell the difference between republicans and democrats...that's like letting a dog choose what color to paint your house.

    by PBJ Diddy on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:18:09 PM PDT

    •  Yeah, even if this is all bullshit... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terjeanderson, nycvisionary

      So is Gravis. So it's sort of a "fight fire with fire" thing.

      Sigh. This election is such a disappointment.

      Keeper of the DKE glossary. Priceless: worth a lot; not for sale.

      by SaoMagnifico on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:55:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  and they could go either way now (0+ / 0-)

        It would be a pain if these results were manufactured as a set up, to be followed by pro-Romney numbers in the last week.

        You know, this bogus polling stuff has always been a problem.  The R team has always had more money, so they've always been able to play polling games, but it's not clear that this year's version of their BS polls is actually getting them anywhere, thanks in part to Nate's work on "house effects," which is starting to be understood by more Americans.

  •  I can't find much info (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    David Nir, MichaelNY, terjeanderson

    Apparently new site, created Oct 1, registered to Michael Gardiner.  

    There's a lawyer named Michael Gardiner in San Diego.

    Googling Steve Lachtman shows that aside from Dkos and the ND poll today, there's a Steve Lachtman in San Diego.

    That's all I got.

  •  more to the point (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greenbird, MichaelNY, BlueJessamine

    what's the deal with a pollster that shows a bigger obama lead in OH than PA?

    oops. I hope the gate wasn't too expensive.

    Twitter: @DanteAtkins

    by Dante Atkins on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:22:32 PM PDT

  •  that site is UGLY ! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    highacidity, Chicago Lawyer, nimh

    and cheap !

    and someone will enjoy explaining what the goofy 'video player' is, hiding behind the lighthouse.

    this is giving me the giggles. or i'm flashing on the scammer who got arrested after speaking in one of the rental rooms in NY at the Press Club ...

    Sinclair. Larry Sinclair. aaahhhh hahahahahaha.

    * Join: OBAMA'S TRUTH TEAM * Addington's Perpwalk: TRAILHEAD of Accountability for Bush-2 Crimes.

    by greenbird on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:26:52 PM PDT

  •  Your polling wrapup (0+ / 0-)

    It seems you are putting the leader's name after the numbers, but what about the two ties? FL-Pres and IN-Sen? Do Obama and Mourdock lead by a few decimals in those races?

    "Valerie, why am I getting all these emails calling me a classless boor?"

    by TLS66 on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:33:40 PM PDT

  •  Pharo's pollster "Hi, do you consider yourself to (15+ / 0-)

    be Jewish or Egyptian?...I'm going to read you a list of the recent plagues, and on a scale of one to ten, with one being very unfavorable..."

    I don't feel we did wrong in taking this great country away from them. There were great numbers of people who needed new land, and the Indians were selfishly trying to keep it for themselves. -John Wayne (-9.00,-8.86)

    by Jonathan Hoag on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:35:31 PM PDT

  •  Very strange (0+ / 0-)

    Their numbers are plausible, but everything about this smells very fishy. I suppose it's possible it's a legitimate start-up trying to pretend it has been in business for a while (and maybe its principal, if he was formerly with Gallup, has personally been in the polling business since the early 1980s), but it just seems very weird to me.

    Keeper of the DKE glossary. Priceless: worth a lot; not for sale.

    by SaoMagnifico on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 06:54:06 PM PDT

    •  They have a national poll out now too (0+ / 0-)

      2012: It's about the Supreme Court. Follow me on Twitter @farrellmcmanus

      by HarlemUSA on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:10:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Why are you so annoyed by it? Good #s. (0+ / 0-)

      I could understand you saying it smells fishy, if the results were biased against our side, but why in hell's name raise a fuss about it when the numbers are so positive?

      The guy is a professional pollster, not a right-wing crook.  Give him a break, and give him a chance to see what he can do.

      Geez - blogging against him now could prevent his poll from ever being included on websites like pollster.  We should be doing the exact opposite - calling to insist on including Pharos if they continue to include Gravis, Purple, Pulse, etc.

  •  Huh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Still not sure about them. But there have been sooooo many new pollsters this cycle.

    2012: It's about the Supreme Court. Follow me on Twitter @farrellmcmanus

    by HarlemUSA on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:20:02 PM PDT

  •  At least they responded and let you print it (15+ / 0-)

    May not clear them, but it's a hell of a lot better than what other organizations have done (if I recall correctly).

    Guess that puts them in a "wait and see" bucket.

    Would be interesting to see if anyone on dailykos ever got a call from them.

  •  Dave, Could you please try to contact this man (0+ / 0-)


    Ask for some backup info.  Try to speak to him.

    He provides crosstabs but so does fraud Gravis.

    If this is real it would be a real asset because it would give another round of important state polls.

    Get on top of this ASAP, Please.  Leave no stone unturned.

  •  When it comes to their prior results (4+ / 0-)

    it'd be nice to see some of those PDFs for the sake of comparison (even post-election comparison)

    I'll note it's kind of an oversight that Pence/Gregg didn't get polled in the Indiana poll. Pretty sure that they're operating in the bounds of Indiana law with live interviews. (The live interviews being a reason that they're polling in North Dakota too, IIRC).

    It's hard to start late, and it is cool that you got an e-mail from the guy.

    One extra grammatical note, Willard "Mitt" Romney is typically incorrect as Mitt isn't a nickname.

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:24:07 PM PDT

  •  If I've learned one thing this year about polling (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, NM Ward Chair, akze29

    it's not to trust pollsters with no track record.

    If there's two things I've learned this year, it's also that there are a ton of pollsters with bad records that still get taken seriously.

  •  Add him to aggregator see what happens! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  kudos to them for this email and OKing its release (7+ / 0-)

    Who knows if these peeps are for real. But it does seem tough to completely dismiss them just because we have never heard of them.

    I like the Ohio numbers anyway!

  •  Hmm, the NE-sen numbers looked odd (6+ / 0-)

    BUT, if Kerrey's internals are to be believed, this race could be closer than we all though.  I'd be interested to see what the final results are on Nov 6.

    Swingnut since 2009, 21, Male, Democrat, CA-49 (home) CA-14 (college) Join r/elections on reddit! Support Sukhee Kang for CA-45!

    by Daman09 on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:40:44 PM PDT

  •  same at "Time's" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NM Ward Chair
  •  So David (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arnold Roth, MichaelNY, BlueJessamine

    Any further thoughts as a result of his response?

    2012: It's about the Supreme Court. Follow me on Twitter @farrellmcmanus

    by HarlemUSA on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 07:54:50 PM PDT

    •  I think they're a new firm (14+ / 0-)

      Getting a late start at the very end of a cycle. They probably should have hired a pr firm to get their name out there properly, and earlier. They'd have had a chance to establish themselves some more and make everyone feel more comfortable.

      The fact that they popped on to the scene so late made it harder to trust them, and inspired me to look for "red flags." Had this been six months ago, I probably would have thought, "Oh, new pollster. Let's see how they develop." Instead, my spidey sense started tingling.

      Given how forthright Leuchtman's email was, though, I'm willing to extend them some benefit of the doubt. I'd like to see their earlier polls, and if he provides them, that will be a help. As to the quality of their work, I will still take a wait-and-see approach.

      Political Director, Daily Kos

      by David Nir on Wed Oct 24, 2012 at 08:08:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  David ask him to fax some data, give location call (0+ / 0-)

    center, maybe some cancelled checks, and then promise to include him in aggregates.

    It is win/win.

    You get more data.  He gets more exposure and business!!!

  •  Looks sketchy... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlueJessamine, terjeanderson

    The website is childish.  The polls refer to polls previously taken.  I can find no record anywhere of Pharos Research Group on the Internet other than these polls and people writing about them on Daily Kos.

    If you were going to fake a polling outfit to push the story toward the D side...

    • Attempt to nudge key polling averages without being too obvious by publishing polls that generally skirt the high end of what other pollsters have found (e.g., O+5 in Ohio, O+3 nationwide, tie in Indiana senate, Heitkamp up a couple in ND).
    • Keep it realistic looking by publishing a few polls that don't look so good but that don't really matter (e.g., a close race in PA, Obama losing big in IN and NE).
    • Provide a detailed write-up of your results and sound methodology (see each PDF; polls have decent sized samples and are live-interview, landline only).
    • After establishing some minimal bona fides, "go Gravis" and throw in a few crazy favorable results in key races (e.g., Gravis's R+9 in NC; if Pharos publishes an O+9 in Ohio or Nevada next Monday, I'm officially calling shenanigans).
    •  Don't look a gift horse in the mouth. (0+ / 0-)

      Give the guy a bleepin' break, will ya?

    •  No quibbles (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If someone were to want to try to do such a thing (and based on Gravis and some of the other shady operators one would suggest there are people who want to do such a thing), that would be how they would do it.

      If we somehow come up with O+9 in Ohio, I would hang up my polling gloves.  You're welcome to call shenanigans if we do.  I have no intention of polling Nevada.  Because I went to college at Nevada, I know that as difficult as the rural plains states are, Nevada is very difficult to build a solid model on.

      But... polling averages are not a consideration.  We don't have enough work-product for people like Pollster to evaluate, and we're not GOP shills, which excludes RCP.

      Look, if I were trying to play games with numbers, I would have had PA being more solidly Obama than OH, because it plays to expectations.  

      I have to acknowledge that based on our thin record, evaluating us skeptically is a good idea.  That said, look at the IN Senate numbers on the 10/12 and 10/19 report.  They are well within the trendline on available data with a high percentage of undecideds.  In the analysis I wrote for the report on 10/22, I suggested that the trend was towards Mourdock, and personally, barring the statement on Tuesday I would have expected him to win a narrow but clear win on election day.  We're inside the trend line on the thin polling in MT and ND, and honestly, like Stu Rothenberg, I could tell you who is going to win either state.  I'd give a narrow advantage 51/49 or to really tick David off (50.5/49.5) to Tester in MT, and a similar narrow advantage to Berg in ND, if I had a gun to my head, but the Dems could win either, both or neither.

  •  So it's this guy, right? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, nimh, terjeanderson

    He describes himself as a "father, writer, political junkie, recovering marketing consultant" and lives in North Dakota.

    Here's a blog about what appears to be a self-published book:

  •  David, one other bit of due diligence that can be (0+ / 0-)

    done- if you think it's worthwhile to bother.

    As you undoubtedly know, companies typically will verify whether or not someone has been an employee, and when (and usually the position title).
    You could contact Gallup and see if they'll respond as to whether of not this person worked for them in the 90's.

  •  David, here's a random thought (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, ArkDem14, nimh

    A  comment by dreaminonempty above outlines how one could set up their very own polling operation. Well... why not?

    You probably can get some free volunteer time from the political junkies on this site to participate and bring dreaminonempty's cost estimate down.

    Markos might spring for a project like that, coming from his Political Director.
    Of course I don't know how that would impact Dailykos's business relationship with PPP.

    You could be up and running by the next midterms.
    And use the 2013 elections as a learning curve  (VA, NJ, even the mayor races in NYC & LA) to shake things out.

  •  My wild guess is that the owner is a Copt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Zack from the SFV

    'Pharos' is the name of the old lighthouse which used to exist in Alexandria.  It was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and a source of pride for Greek and Coptic residents of Egypt in modern times.  The other alternative is he is an ancient history aficionado.  'The lighthouse' is a symbol of guiding people through dark and treacherous storms.  Symbolic I guess.  

  •  Uh, look at the San Diego poll (0+ / 0-)

    I think he posted the 10/12-14 results for that date and for 10/19-21.

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 09:41:50 AM PDT

  •  I've seen marketing research companies dabble in.. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    terjeanderson, MichaelNY

    ...political work.  Obvious stuff like political advertising and robo-calls.  With non-scientific robo-polling added in as an additional option for the robo-calls.  One marketing firm, American Information Marketing ( ), had what at the time seemed like a neat computer voice manipulation system that would allow candidates to personalize their robo-calls allowing them to "speak" the names of the person they are calling.  Faux intimacy was of course a perfect product for Mitt Romney who used them in 2008.

    Of course corporate marketing and political marketing are often quite similar even if idealistic candidates are loathe to admit they are in many ways marketed the same as laundry detergent and home mortgages.

    Real scientific polling as opposed to junk robo-calling or focus group centered research is rarer for a marketing company.  But I'd imagine if they are non-partisan they would want to do as good a job as possible since if these polls aren't paid for they are really just merely advertising and inaccurate polls are bad advertising.

    The lady was enchanted and said they ought to see. So they charged her with subversion and made her watch TV -Spirogyra

    by Taget on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 12:37:37 PM PDT

  •  Pharos has provided us with method details (4+ / 0-)

    In response to inquiry. Steve Leuchtman also says he has joined Daily Kos, so soon he will be able to speak for himself here.

    Steve's response to my question about methodology:

    In response, we do some cell phone calling in North Dakota and Montana, but sparsely because of issues I will describe in a minute.  We use a randomizer to add the last four to the AC+exchange.  Our plan for the future would be to use voter files to generate sample, but with the cost of the calling, which you sussed out fairly well in your post on Kos, it wasn't feasible this cycle.  We've discussed doing a blend of automated and live call in the future.  If I can be persuaded of the ability to generate quality results, we will do a fair amount of automated polling in 2014.  As for the landline/cell, I live in rural North Dakota.  I understand the demography of the state.  There are lots of people with cell phone only.  I'm one of them.  But my cell number would put me in another county/region of the state.  It is difficult to ensure the demographic validity of the survey (regionally) using cells in these small mostly rural, western states.  Results are weighted to represent accurately the demographic make-up of the sample, both for age, sex and race and for the voter turnout model.  

    To be honest, this cycle is mostly a test for us.  We have to perfect our voter turnout models, and shortly after the election we're going to go to the drawing board.  We'd like to be in all 70 competitive House races in 2014, and most of the US Senate races.  To do that, we have to have a good party affiliation model, and we aren't completely convinced of the accuracy of our modeling yet.

    •  well (0+ / 0-)

      it'd be cool if someone could just do (even a one-shot) poll for a state with no 2012 OvsR polling (Alaska, Delaware which has multiple statewides, Wyoming with two federal statewides) or states without much 2012 polling (Kansas or South Carolina).

      No real harm in a poll that should pad a future accuracy rating while filling a void in the market.

      Ok, polling Alaska seems like it'd be elaborate, but it'll be R+20, Don Young+25. And KS/SC don't have statewides

      The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

      by RBH on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 06:26:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Response (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    quibblingpotatoes, R30A, MichaelNY

    Hey guys:

    I'm going to respond with a general response, then add some specific replies to posts in this thread.

    1)  It is no accident that the states were chosen the way they were.  I've lived most of my adult life in MT, NE and ND.    Making voter models for these states are relatively easy from this standpoint-  they are relatively racially homogeneous- and difficult from this standpoint- they are sparsely populated and diffuse population-wise.  As a result, it makes it easy to test various assumptions about how to handle the voter turnout without much in the way of factors like different (and hard to reach) population centers that skew a lot of the public polling.

    2)  Cell phones?  As I mentioned in a response to dreaminonempty yesterday via email, cell phones are problematic from a regional modelling standpoint.  For example, I live in rural ND, reasonably close to Fargo, but my cell phone exchange is for South Central ND.  We've had a lot of internal discussions about the use of cell phones, but one of the things which seriously cuts cost (true RDD design) also makes cell usage far less reliable.

    3)  New.  We are a new business entity.  I haven't tried to hide that.  The copy on the website has been dinged for not being very clear, and leaving the impression we've been polling for a long time.  As an entity we have not.  But my business partner and I have been around the game a long time... including...

    4)  The time I spent at Gallup.  I was a phone interviewer, consumer and business.  Working the business side provided me with a lot of access to analysis and project management, but I don't want to leave any mistaken impressions, I was not intimately involved in either analysis or project management.  It was a great experience.  They are an excellent employer, and I learned a great deal through their continuing education courses and participating in focus groups, etc.

    5)  A PR firm.  Naively, we assumed that if we invested in the polling (and it was a choice, spend the money on the work product or spend the money on a good flack), we would find some print.  It didn't work out that way until I pushed harder on the ND Senate poll, and because it is so late in the game, there was some skepticism which we (Pharos) completely understand... which leads to...

    6)  Skepticism of polls, and aggregators.  I do not claim to be an oracle.  I have a solid understanding of statistical analysis and survey design.  My wife is working on her Masters Degree in Psychology, and not being a math geek like me, I end up being her go to for experimental design and statistical analysis.  I have spent a lot of time reading both from a theoretical and practical standpoint, and the sites and blogs (including Nate Silver's excellent 537 blog).  Not all polls are equal.  We are still perfecting our methodology and best practices.  The jumping off point for me as far as going out and reaching out to news sources was that atrocious Essman/Forum poll that was released on Saturday.  So I not only understand the skepticism I have seen here, I encourage it.  We are fallible.  I hope over the next several cycles to build a solid track record for people to be able to compare our polling against results.  For now, I think our work is still a work in progress.  As we've zoned in, we've had some real interesting results.  As I mentioned to David, I think the NE results are at the edge of the MOE, and there was some oversampling on Independents and in the 2nd CD.

    I think that covers the bulk of what I wanted to say generally.  I would be happy to answer most questions.

    •  leuchtman, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Welcome!  I hope you succeed in your business and in getting at least a couple more bites from the media before this cycle is over.  I have two questions for you though.

      1. How do you expect to make money doing these polls? Are you planning on becoming a PPP-style firm?

      2. If that's the case, why did you skimp so hard on your web site? Even Gravis Marketing, whose Blogger-based website is terrible, is just passable enough to avoid some of the red-flag skepticism questions that David Nir posed to you.

      I look forward to seeing how accurate your polls will be come election day.

    •  Thanks for your well written replies! (0+ / 0-)

      We pride ourselves on being reality based and seeking out the most accurate numbers.  Even if we do have our fingers crossed for pro-Democratic Party numbers.

      Sounds like you have a well thought out business plan and getting a few good polls in before doing the PR isn't the worst decision.  If you can get the trends and numbers better than your competition in a few states it'll give the PR folks you hire something to really work with.

      Good luck in your endeavor!

      The lady was enchanted and said they ought to see. So they charged her with subversion and made her watch TV -Spirogyra

      by Taget on Mon Oct 29, 2012 at 11:36:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Congrats Pollster is now using you!!!!\ (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

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