Wednesday, June 05, 2019
Despite its faults, Wikipedia provides an immensely valuable instantaneous free source of information for its readers worldwide. Most of those who write and edit the Rasmussen Reports Wikipedia article do so with integrity to history and the facts. We are deeply grateful for their diligent and ongoing work.
As with any large open collaboration project, however, bad actors drop in and create chaos. This is unsettling because unlike an increasing number of national pollsters, Rasmussen Reports since 2004 has held itself up for public scrutiny by providing final national election outcome predictions or “horserace polling results.” Rasmussen Reports’ resulting track record is quite good but not perfect. Yet on our Wikipedia article today, entire Rasmussen Reports election year national polling results have simply disappeared, not to be recovered. This coupled with malicious, unsupported commentary rather than accurate criticism injects imbalance into our Wikipedia history. Falsehoods based on misstated or missing data then become perpetuated and amplified by some readers and media outlets.
To assist our valued Wikipedia editors and our readers in their understanding of our company, our work and our polling track record, we’ve undertaken this research and recovery project with one goal in mind: To provide a dynamic repository of fact and criticism, pro and con, that cannot simply disappear.
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This article is about the American polling company.
Rasmussen Reports, LLC
Noson Lawen Partners (majority investor)
Rasmussen Reports is an American polling company, founded in 2003. The company engages in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion, consumer confidence and other public polling information. Rasmussen Reports conducts nightly tracking, at national and state levels, of elections, politics, current events, consumer confidence, business topics, and the United States president's job approval ratings.
Surveys by the company are conducted via the use of automated public opinion polling involving pre-recorded telephone inquiries and by use of demographically balanced commercial internet panels. The company generates revenue by selling advertising and subscriptions to its proprietary polling survey data and through its commercial polling operation, Pulse Opinion Research.
Rasmussen Reports was founded in October of 2003 by Scott Rasmussen, who served as the company's president from its founding until July 2013 when he left to found the digital media company Styrk.
Mr. Rasmussen founded his first polling company in 1994. That company, Rasmussen Research, was bought by TownPagesNet.com for about $4.5 million in ordinary shares in 1999. Starting in 1999, Mr. Rasmussen's poll was called Portrait of America. In 2003, Mr. Rasmussen founded Rasmussen Reports, based in Asbury Park, New Jersey. In August 2009, the Washington Post reported that Rasmussen Reports had received a “major growth capital investment.” That growth capital investment was provided by Noson Lawen Partners, a U.S. media & information focused institutionally backed private equity firm who remains Rasmussen Reports controlling shareholder today.
Rasmussen Reports engages in the collection, publication, and distribution of public opinion polling information, tracking the political world, current events, consumer confidence, business topics, and the president's job approval ratings.Rasmussen Reports also conducts nightly national tracking polls and scheduled state surveys. The company provides commentary and political analysis through its website, social media and a daily email newsletter.
The company generates revenue by selling advertising and subscriptions to its proprietary polling survey data and through its commercial polling operation, Pulse Opinion Research.
Rasmussen Reports also provides its Econometric Data subscribers with high value daily updates of Consumer and Investor Confidence with a daily tracking history running back to 2004. These measured trends are similar to measures produced by the Consumer Conference Board once a month and The University of Michigan Index every two weeks.
Rasmussen Reports is an independent polling firm managed by a politically bi-partisan staff that does not endorse any political philosophies, parties or special interest groups. To underscore this and unlike other polling firms Rasmussen Reports does not contribute money to candidates or political parties or groups. These operational attributes make it a target for groups who seek to control national political narratives and are likely behind much of the editorial vandalism inflicted repeatedly on the Rasmussen Reports Wikipedia article.
In September 2012, Rasmussen Reports and Telco Productions launched a nationally syndicated television show called What America Thinks With Scott Rasmussen that aired on over 120 television stations nationwide. Production of the show was discontinued in May of 2013 due to unexpected revenue shortfalls. Rasmussen Reports founder, Scott Rasmussen, left Rasmussen Reports in July of 2013 to found the digital media company Styrk. Mr. Rasmussen has had nothing whatsoever to do with the company or its operations since that time.
Rasmussen Reports collects data for its survey research using a mixed automated polling methodology. Telephone survey questions are digitally recorded and fed to a calling program that determines question order, branching options, and other factors. Calls for part of their daily sample are placed to randomly selected landline phone numbers through a process that insures appropriate geographic representation. Pulse Opinion Research conducts Rasmussen’s automated survey calls.
Using a single, digitally recorded voice to conduct landline interviews ensures that every respondent hears exactly the same question from the exact same voice asked with the exact same inflection every single time. And the process is completely private. There is no live operator to potentially pass judgment on the respondent’s answers.
Like many pollsters Rasmussen now also draws a percentage (20-25%) of its daily sample survey results from special demographically balanced commercial internet panels to capture the growing number of people who no longer have landline telephones. These panels are increasingly important because, unlike live-operator calls to cell phones, they both reach the younger demographic and do so while maintaining their personal privacy – just like in the voting booth.
In May of 2019, Rasmussen Reports posted a series of Twitter “Tweets” outlining their survey basis, current political party weighting numbers and their benchmarking approach. Despite mainstream media political stories to the contrary, Rasmussen weights their polls towards Democrats based on their analysis of prior election turnout data and other political metrics.
Presidential Approval Tracking
Rasmussen Reports conducts a 5-day a week Presidential Tracking Poll that measures the president’s job approval rating. Rasmussen Reports Presidential job approval ratings, like its survey results for all other political subjects, are based on a sample of “Likely Voters.” Most other national polling firms switch their survey sampling basis to likely voters only in the run up to pending elections. Rasmussen Reports leaves their likely voters screening in place year round for political questions causing their daily results to differ from pollsters who switch back post-election to All Adult or Registered Voters based surveying. (Rasmussen also conducts a separate 5-day a week proprietary All Adults subscription based consumer confidence survey for its Econometric Data customers.)
Other Regular Polling
Rasmussen Reports additionally conducts a weekly tracking poll that asks voters whether they think the country is heading in the right direction or is on the wrong track. The company also provides updates on topics including global warming and energy issues, housing, the war on terror, the mood of America, Congress and the Supreme Court, importance of issues, partisan trust, and trends in public opinion. Examples of these include:
David Weigel wrote that, "where Rasmussen Reports really distinguishes itself, and the reason it’s so often cited by conservatives, is in its issue polling. Before the stimulus debate began, Rasmussen asked voters whether they’d favor stimulus plans that consisted entirely of tax cuts or entirely of spending. Tax cuts won every time, and Republicans began citing this when they argued for a tax-cut-only stimulus package."
In May 2012, a Rasmussen Reports poll found that "a solid majority of voters nationwide favor legalizing and regulating marijuana similar to the way alcohol and tobacco cigarettes are currently regulated.” Of those polled, 56% favored legalizing and regulating marijuana, while 36% were opposed to legalizing and regulating the drug.
In July 2012, a Rasmussen Reports poll found that over two-thirds of Americans would fire every member of Congress. In January 2013, a Rasmussen Reports poll found record low levels of support for the Tea Party movement. Of those polled, 30% held a favorable view of the Tea Party, 49% held an unfavorable view, and only 8% identified as a part of the group.
U.S National & State Elections (Rasmussen Reports was founded in October 2003.)
In the 2004 national presidential election, George W. Bush received 50.7% of the Popular Vote, while John Kerry earned 48.3%. Rasmussen Reports polling projected that Bush would win 50.2% to 48.5%. Rasmussen Reports was the only firm to project both candidates' totals within half a percentage point on 122 million actual national votes. During the final weekend prior to the election Rasmussen additionally provided polling data for 24 states. Rasmussen correctly called all 24 selected state races (100% accuracy).
In November of 2008, Rasmussen Reports projected the winning Popular Vote margin between the candidates John McCain & Barrack Obama to within 1 percentage point on 131 million actual national votes.
According to Politico, "Rasmussen's final poll of the 2008 general election—showing Obama defeating Arizona Sen. John McCain 52 percent to 46 percent—closely mirrored the election's outcome." In reference to the 2008 presidential election, a Talking Points Memo article said, "Rasmussen's final polls had Obama ahead 52–46%, which was nearly identical to Obama's final margin of 53–46%, and made him one of the most accurate pollsters out there."
At the end of the 2008 presidential election, there were eight national tracking polls and many other polls conducted on a regular basis.
Polling analyst Nate Silver reviewed the tracking polls and said that while none were perfect, and Rasmussen was "frequently reputed to have a Republican lean", the "house effect" in their tracking poll was small and "with its large sample size and high pollster rating [it] would probably be the one I'd want with me on a desert island."
Rasmussen Reports 2008 state polls predicted the correct Presidential race winner in 46 of 50 states (92% accuracy).
Rasmussen Reports polled 30 regular and 1 special Senate races in 2008 correctly calling 29 of 30 Senate races (97% accuracy) with 1 race judged too close to call and 9 of 10 Governors races (90% accuracy).
Rasmussen Reports’ 2010 national midterm state election polling results correctly called 33 out of 36 Senate races (92% accuracy), 34 out of 37 Governor races (92% accuracy) and 3 out of 3 special House races (100% accuracy).
In December 2009, a full 11 months before Election Day, a Democratic strategist concluded that if the Rasmussen Reports Generic Congressional Ballot data was accurate, Republicans would gain 62 seats in the House during the 2010 elections. Other polls at the time suggested the Democrats would retain a comfortable majority. The Republicans gained 63 seats in the 2010 elections.
The Pew Center noted that Rasmussen Reports beat traditional media in covering Scott Brown's upset win in Massachusetts earlier this year: "It was polling-not journalistic reporting-that caught the wave in the race to succeed Massachusetts Senator Edward M. Kennedy." Rasmussen Reports was also the first to show then-candidate Ron Johnson as a serious threat to former Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold and the first to document Arlen Specter’s troubles in both the Pennsylvania Republican and Democratic Primary races.
Rasmussen’s final 2010 projections were published in the Wall Street Journal projecting that the Republicans would gain 55 or more seats in the House and end up with 48 or 49 Senate seats. The Republicans ended up with a gain of 63 House seats and 47 Senate seats.
Nate Silver’s 2010 Unpublished ‘Analysis’ of Rasmussen Reports
Less than 24 hours after the preliminary 2010 midterm election vote counts were reported (which President Obama would later term “a shellacking” nationally for Democrats), writer Nate Silver published via The New York Times a “summary” in article form of his own forthcoming proprietary “analysis” of Rasmussen’s 2010 midterm polling results covering what he claimed were the “105 polls released in Senate and gubernatorial races by Rasmussen Reports and its subsidiary, Pulse Opinion Research.”
Rasmussen’s Pulse Opinion Research division handles commercial client polling where the client (not Rasmussen Reports) determines question wording and question sequencing. These two criteria are universally accepted as critical to polling outcomes and thus pollster proprietary track records. The only 2010 Senate and Gubernatorial polling directly attributable to Rasmussen Reports are the 73 races proprietarily polled by them at a transparently measurable 92% accuracy rate (see links above).
Nonetheless Mr. Silver’s engaging November 4, 2010 title: Rasmussen Polls Were Biased and Inaccurate; Quinnipiac, SurveyUSA Performed Strongly, coupled with his then newly linked New York Times powered distribution, insured widespread media pickup and apparently eternally high internet search engine result rankings. Mr. Silver’s “summary” went on to state “Nor did it make much difference whether the polls were branded as Rasmussen Reports surveys, or instead, were commissioned for Fox News by its subsidiary Pulse Opinion Research. (Both sets of surveys used an essentially identical methodology.) Polls branded as Rasmussen Reports missed by an average of 5.9 points and had a 3.9-point bias. The polls it commissioned on behalf of Fox News had a 5.1 point error, and a 3.6 point bias.”
Since Mr. Silver has (as of June 2019) refused to release any additional data from this “analysis” it is impossible for anyone to verify his claims. Simplistically however, if Mr. Silver is contending that Rasmussen Reports proprietary 2010 national Senate & Gubernatorial polling was inaccurate, on average, by 5.9% then he has understated Rasmussen’s 2010 so-called ‘polling inaccuracy.’ Fully 8% of Rasmussen Report’s final 2010 proprietary polling calls missed their mark. Conversely 92% correctly identified the ultimate election winner in 73 separate races, an otherwise excellent national midterm’s accuracy rate.
The final 2012 Rasmussen Reports daily tracking poll targeting the national race popular vote margin between the two leading presidential candidates showed Mitt Romney with 49% and President Obama with 48% with a survey +/-3% margin of error. President Obama went on to win the popular vote by 51.1% to Mr. Romney’s 47.2%.
The final 2012 Electoral College projection by Rasmussen Reports showed 237 safe electoral votes for Barack Obama, 206 safe electoral votes for Mitt Romney, and eight toss-up states with a total of 95 electoral votes.
Rasmussen Reports’ 2012 state polling correctly called 14 out of 17 Senate races (82% accuracy) and 4 out of 4 governor races (100% accuracy).
Rasmussen Reports' pre-election polls showed Obama winning Nevada and New Hampshire, tying Romney in Ohio and Wisconsin, and losing in the other five swing states, including North Carolina. Obama won in the swing states of Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, and Virginia, while Romney took North Carolina.
A Fordham University 2012 election polling accuracy study by ex-Hillary Clinton Senate office staffer Dr. Costas Panagopoulos compared pre-election polling with the results from Election Day. The study ranked Rasmussen Reports 24th out of 28 polls in accuracy, one slot above Gallup. An analysis by Nate Silver on FiveThirtyEight ranked Rasmussen 20th out of 23 pollsters for accuracy in the 2012 elections with an average error of 4.2 points. After the election, James Rainey of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "Some conservative media outlets used the Rasmussen polling to prop up a narrative in the final days of the campaign that Romney had momentum and a good chance of winning the White House."
On November 7, Scott Rasmussen told Slate's David Weigel, "In general, the projections were pretty good. The two differences I noted were share of white vote falling to 72 percent. That’s what the Obama campaign, to their credit, said all along. We showed it just over 73 percent. Also, youth turnout higher and senior turnout was lower than expected. That’s a pretty big deal given the size of the generation gap. I think it showed clearly that the Obama team had a great game plan for identifying their vote and getting it to the polls."
Romney’s GOTV Fail Whale
Unique to the 2012 election is a substantial volume of post-election reporting concerning ORCA, the GOP mobile-optimized web application used help to direct & manage the 2012 GOP "get out the vote" (GOTV) efforts had major technical problems during Election Day that prevented many GOP campaign volunteers from using it. The system crashed periodically and at one point was intentionally taken down when a surge of traffic from campaign volunteers was misinterpreted as a denial of service attack. Frustrated Republican volunteers reported being unable to access their data and criticized a lack of prior briefing, misleading instructions and insufficient Election Day support.
A Romney web developer described the effect of ORCA as being that "30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help, like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc." Campaign workers were left "flying blind", as several put it, unable to identify non-voters or precincts which needed a last-minute robocalling campaign to drive up turnout. The targeted information promised by the campaign did not materialize and only the generic raw vote tallies were available in key areas.”
Conservative writer Joel B. Pollak suggested that ORCA had ended up suppressing Romney's own vote by tying up campaign volunteers at a critical time. He noted the narrow margin in the key swing states – only some 500,000 to 700,000 votes – and calculated that if each of the 37,000 ORCA volunteers had brought 20 voters to the polls in those states, the gap could have been closed. Lara Brown of Villanova University said that it was likely that ORCA had "had a substantial effect" on the turnout, particularly in rural counties of Ohio where Romney had underperformed.
Slate writer Sasha Issenberg argued that the problems ran far deeper than ORCA's technical failings, as the Romney campaign had been left behind by the cutting edge of data science. He noted that while a system like ORCA could not have changed the demographics, data science did make a great difference to the ability of the two campaigns to target and mobilize their voters. As he put it, "The Democrats have it and the Republicans don't." He suggested that ORCA's ability to affect the outcome had been over-hyped by the Romney campaign, as there was only so much that could be done on election day itself: "On short notice, you can send robocalls, reorder a call list and employ paid phone banks, but you are not radically changing the shape of the electorate. They acted like they had invented the wheel, but really all it would have been was a slightly better tread on the tire.”
Scott Rasmussen Departs
Rasmussen Reports founder, Scott Rasmussen, left Rasmussen Reports in July of 2013 to found the digital media company Styrk. Mr. Rasmussen has had nothing whatsoever to do with the company or its operations since that time. Rasmussen Reports majority shareholder Noson Lawen Partners, an institutionally backed U.S. private equity firm, then internally promoted a long tenured internal management team to oversee the company.
Rasmussen Reports’ 2014 national midterm election polling results, the first under its then new management team, correctly called 33 out of 36 Senate races (92% accuracy) and 32 out of 36 governor races (89% accuracy), with 2 races judged too close to call.
These results apparently received no known national media coverage from anyone, including Mr. Silver.
In 2016 Rasmussen Reports was described as one of three so called “outlier” national polling firms (IBD/TIPP and USC/LA Times being the others) to identify in the summer-fall 2016 run-up to election day that GOP candidate Donald Trump had any chance at all of beating Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton with the lead between them changing frequently.
After all 136+ million U.S. votes were counted; Hillary Clinton won the 2016 Popular Vote by a margin of 2.1%.
Both IBD/TIPP & USC/LA Times picked Donald Trump to win in this same Popular Vote margin. Mr. Trump instead became the 45th U.S. President by winning the Electoral College vote over Mrs. Clinton by 304 to 227.
Fordham University professor and ex-Hillary Clinton Senate office staffer Dr. Costas Panagopoulos published an accuracy study of the 2016 election pollsters. He included 14 pollsters but excluded Rasmussen Reports. After this study received widespread publicity it was removed from the Fordham University website and Dr. Panagopoulos left the university.
Nate Silver made no contemporaneous mention of Rasmussen’s 2016 performance, waiting until May 31st of 2018 to briefly acknowledge them.
American Research Group, Inc, a competing U.S. opinion polling and marketing research company, published an analysis of the accuracy of pollsters in the November 8, 2016 US Presidential election using the measure of polling accuracy proposed by Martin, Traugott, and Kennedy. Rasmussen was found to be 2016’s most accurate Popular Vote margin pollster.
People’s Pundit Daily, owner of Big Data Polls, a competing national U.S. opinion polling company, published a separate commentary & analysis of the 2016 national Popular Vote polling independently recalculating results using the Martin, Traugott, and Kennedy accuracy test. Rasmussen was once again found to be 2016’s most accurate Popular Vote margin pollster.
This 2016 polling performance was later praised by President Trump on Twitter calling Rasmussen Reports among the most accurate Election Day polls.
In an interview with Time Magazine on Monday June 17, 2019 in the Oval Office, President Trump confirmed these 2016 facts about Rasmussen Reports accuracy noted above -
“TRUMP: I’d love to broaden it. I think I have one of the greatest — you know there are those who say I have the greatest base in the history of American politics because it always stays at 45, 46, 47. I mean it’s been — today it’s at 51. Wasn’t Rasmussen 51? 51. And I’ll tell you, you know, Rasmussen — you know — it’s respected — they got the election the best. That’s why I say Rasmussen because they got the election the most right. Los Angeles Times, Rasmussen, and I think it was Business Insider, believe it or not, three polls got it very good. But Rasmussen was good. That’s at 51%. But I have a base of 45, 46% that is a phenomenal base.”
In 2018, Rasmussen Reports invited Americans of all political persuasions to join their first ever Citizen-Sourced National Midterm Election Polling Project. Managed by Rasmussen Reports and powered by Go-Fund-Me, the not-for-profit project targeted Senate and gubernatorial races in key national midterm election battleground states. Project contribution goals were met to fund early polling cycles in both Pennsylvania (Senate & Governor) and Florida (Senate & Governor) but later contribution totals regrettably did not reach amounts to produce final pre-election polling for either state. Rasmussen Reports then went outbound and asked the contributors of all unspent contributions if they would like their unspent contribution returned.
Rasmussen Generic Ballot question identifies split-party/split-chamber outcome denying Democrats a Senate Majority.
Nationally, the 2018 midterms produced a relatively rare electoral outcome with each political party increasing seats held in a separate congressional chamber. Typically, a single party gains seats in a midterm election and it gains them in both the House and the Senate. 2018's November midterms saw Democrats picking up 41 seats in the House while Republican’s picked up an additional 2 seats in the Senate. This kind of split chamber, split party midterm outcome was last recorded during the Nixon Administration’s first midterms. In fact in 2018 Democrats nationally logged approximately 18 million more votes for their party’s Senate candidates, helped by millions of extra votes in large ‘blue’ states (both California Senate candidates were Democrats adding 11 million unopposed votes to the tally alone) that had no impact on Senate race decisions in other competitive states.
For a decade, Rasmussen Reports has annually asked thousands of nightly survey respondents the very same “generic ballot” question: “If the elections for Congress were held today, would you vote for the Republican candidate or for the Democratic candidate?” No other national pollster uses this question wording & scope – some ask respondents only about “the House,” others ask about “your Congressional District.” All of these mixed-scope generic ballot question results however now get combined by Real Clear Politics into a single “2018 Generic Ballot” summary page where Rasmussen Reports final R+1 generic ballot estimate for “Congress” stands out prominently.
Writers Philip Bump of The Washington Post, Harry Enten of CNN and Nate Silver, then newly of ABC News, all declined to spotlight these generic ballot question scope differences and the Senate electoral process but instead used their impacts as an opportunity to bash Rasmussen Reports as 2018’s ‘most inaccurate’ pollster.
So eager were they to report about Rasmussen Reports 2018 generic ballot ‘failings’ that each of these authors unilaterally changed Rasmussen Reports wording scope in their articles from “Congress” to “the House,” thus reaching down in an apparently coordinated fashion for a new historic low in national poll “analysis.”
Competing national pollster Richard Baris wrote about this manufactured controversy in an April 2019 expose entitled “Polling Critics Who Work in Glass Houses Shouldn’t Throw Stones.” In it Mr. Baris points out some of the Washington Post, CNN & ABC News (Mr. Silver’s new employer) own 2018 polling tragedies that were somehow deemed unfit to print.
On November 9, 2018, Rasmussen Reports released its own overview of what its traditional question scope, focused on “Congress,” had revealed in these 2018 mixed chamber midterms:
“Tuesday’s results were revealing. Democrats picked up an apparently low number of House seats compared to recent (President Obama’s) prior first-term midterms. Republicans picked up a relatively high number of Senate seats compared to prior first-term midterms going back to the Kennedy administration. Taken together this preliminary data points to a better turnout and outcome for Republicans than other generic ballot pollsters predicted.
Was our R+1 net final generic ballot score (with a +/- 2 margin of error) reasonable? We believe it was, but we’ll look at all the data in the coming weeks to see if any adjustments to our national likely voters party weighting is appropriate.”
Anonymous 2018 performance evaluation text currently sitting on Wikipedia:
In 2018, Rasmussen Reports predicted that Republicans would win the generic ballot by 1 percentage point while the actual election results had Democrats winning by near 9 percentage points. The nearly 10 percentage point error was the largest polling error out of major firms who polled the national generic ballot. Traditionally, such a wide error in polling would lead to a major rethink of methodology, but Rasmussen pushed back against critics after their widely derided miss, falsely claiming that "that the midterm result was relatively poor for Democrats compared to other midterms" - despite the fact that the Democrats scored a historic margin in the popular vote victory. Ultimately, Rasmussen has made no effort since the 2018 midterms to fix their demonstrably flawed polling methodology.
In the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial race, Rasmussen Reports' final poll predicted that Chris Christie would beat Jon Corzine by a margin of 3 points. Christie won the race with a spread of 4.3 points. In December 2009, Alan Abramowitz wrote that if Rasmussen's data was accurate, Republicans would gain 62 seats in the House during the 2010 midterm elections. In a column written the week before the 2010 midterm elections, Rasmussen stated his belief that Republicans would gain at least 55 seats in the House and end up with 48 or 49 Senate seats. Republicans ended up gaining 63 seats in the House, and coming away with 47 Senate seats.
In 2010, Rasmussen Reports was the first to show Republican Scott Brown had a chance to defeat Martha Coakley in the Massachusetts Senate race. Just after Brown's upset win, Ben Smith at Politico reported, "The overwhelming conventional wisdom in both parties until a Rasmussen poll showed the race in single digits in early January was that Martha Coakley was a lock. (It's hard to recall a single poll changing the mood of a race quite that dramatically.)"
A study by Boston University and the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism about how the Massachusetts Senate race was covered in the media concluded, "Rasmussen Report's poll that showed the overwhelming Republican underdog, Scott Brown, climbing to within single digits (nine points) of Martha Coakley. That poll, perhaps more than anything else, signaled that a possible upset was brewing and galvanized both the media and political worlds."
The New York Times Magazine opened a March 14 cover story with a scene highlighting the impact of that poll in an internal White House meeting involving President Obama's chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. However, Rasmussen's polls all showed Coakley with the lead, including their final poll which had Coakley with a 2-point lead, when she in fact lost by 5 points, a 7-point error.
In October 2008, polling writer/analyst Nate Silver wrote about the then current state of presidential tracking polls and concluded “In summation, none of these tracking polls are perfect, although Rasmussen — with its large sample size and high pollster rating — would probably be the one I’d want with me on a desert island.”
In November 2010 and less than 24 hours after midterm election results were being finalized Nate Silver – now of The New York Times - published his above mentioned summary of his 2010 “analysis” of election pollster accuracy.
Mr. Silver has never published the underlying details of this analysis making it impossible for anyone to independently verify. Perhaps The New York Times could do so.
Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen wrote in 2010 that Rasmussen has an "unchallenged record for both integrity and accuracy." Slate magazine and The Wall Street Journal reported that Rasmussen Reports was one of the most accurate polling firms for the 2004 United States presidential election and 2006 United States general elections.[not in citation given]
In 2004 Slate "publicly doubted and privately derided" Rasmussen's use of recorded voices in electoral polls. However, after the election, they concluded that Rasmussen’s polls were among the most accurate in the 2004 presidential election.According to Politico, Rasmussen's 2008 presidential-election polls "closely mirrored the election's outcome."
Jonathan Chait of the New Republic said that Rasmussen is perceived in the "conservative world" as "the gold standard"and suggested the polling company asks the questions specifically to show public support for the conservative position. They cited an example when Rasmussen asked "Should the government set limits on how much salt Americans can eat?" when the issue was whether to limit the amount of salt in pre-processed food.
The Center for Public Integrity listed "Scott Rasmussen Inc" as a paid consultant for the 2004 George W. Bush campaign.The Washington Post reported that the 2004 Bush re-election campaign had used a feature on the Rasmussen Reports website that allowed customers to program their own polls, and that Rasmussen asserted that he had not written any of the questions nor assisted Republicans.
In 2009 Time magazine described Rasmussen Reports as a "conservative-leaning polling group." John Zogby said in 2010 that Scott Rasmussen had a "conservative constituency." In 2012 The Washington Post called Rasmussen a "polarizing pollster."
Rasmussen has received criticism over the wording in its polls. Asking a polling question with different wording can affect the results of the poll; the commentators in question allege that the questions Rasmussen ask in polls are skewed in order to favor a specific response. For instance, when Rasmussen polled whether Republican voters thought Rush Limbaugh was the leader of their party, the specific question they asked was: "Agree or Disagree: 'Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the Republican Party—he says jump and they say how high.'"
Talking Points Memo has questioned the methodology of Rasmussen's Presidential Approval Index, which takes into account only those who "strongly" approve or disapprove of the President's job performance. TPM noted that this inherently skews negative, and reported that multiple polling experts were critical of the concept. A New York Times article claims Rasmussen Reports research has a "record of relying on dubious sampling and weighting techniques."
A 2017 article by Chris Cillizza for CNN raised doubts about Rasmussen's accuracy, drawing attention specifically to potential sampling biases such as the exclusion of calls to cell-phones (which, Cillizza argued, tended to exclude younger voters), and also more generally to a lack of methodological disclosure. Cillizza did, however, note in the same piece that Rasmussen was one of the more accurate polling organizations during the 2016 United States presidential election.[93
In an August 2018 interview with The Western Journal, Ted Carroll of Rasmussen Reports controlling shareholder, Noson Lawen Partners, provided updated background on Rasmussen Reports’ independence, polling methodology and frequent benchmarking tests.
Rasmussen Reports is a media company specializing in the collection, publication and distribution of public opinion information.
We conduct public opinion polls on a variety of topics to inform our audience on events in the news and other topics of interest. To ensure editorial control and independence, we pay for the polls ourselves and generate revenue through the sale of subscriptions, sponsorships, and advertising. Nightly polling on politics, business and lifestyle topics provides the content to update the Rasmussen Reports web site many times each day. If it's in the news, it's in our polls. Additionally, the data drives a daily update newsletter and various media outlets across the country.
Some information, including the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll and commentaries are available for free to the general public. Subscriptions are available for $4.95 a month or 34.95 a year that provide subscribers with exclusive access to more than 20 stories per week on upcoming elections, consumer confidence, and issues that affect us all. For those who are really into the numbers, Platinum Members can review demographic crosstabs and a full history of our data.
To learn more about our methodology, click here.