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Presidential Pollsters Political Contributions: Heavily For Hillary Clinton

A Commentary By Leon Scuti

This article was originally published on Heat Street.

Recently, the Washington Post, Yahoo News, Time, the Columbia Journal Review and a host of other news organizations reported on a Center for Public Integrity study detailing the federal campaign-finance filings of journalists, reporters, news editors, television news anchors and other donors working in journalism. The study found that 96 percent of those contributions – or about $382,000 – went to the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, while the remainder went to Donald Trump.

But as we enter the final days of the most heated presidential campaign in modern U.S. history, not only major news agencies, but also their presidential polling partners, find themselves under increased scrutiny.

There is no evidence that any of the polling firms concerned have juiced their surveys or numbers in any way. Most pollsters, including those listed here, make much of their money doing corporate work and surveys, not political polling. However, perhaps there is an argument to be made for transparency among polling companies as to their donations – and journalists should be equally open.

Journalists’ disproportionately Democratic donations, revealed in The Center for Public Integrity’s study, reinforced the negative perceptions that a vast majority of American voters have of the news media – that they cannot be trusted, that they will work to elect the presidential candidate of their choice, and that Hillary Clinton is that candidate.

The Center for Public Integrity study concluded: “Conventional journalistic wisdom holds that reporters and editors are referees on politics’ playing field — bastions of neutrality who mustn’t root for Team Red or Team Blue, either in word or deed. But during this decidedly unconventional election season, during which “the media” has itself become a prominent storyline, several hundred news professionals have aligned themselves with Clinton or Trump by personally donating money to one or the other.”

Federal Election Commission campaign-finance records show that top-level executives at some polling firms conducting presidential polls for major news agencies have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party and to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in this election cycle. The volume and dollar amount of these contributions appear to vastly outweigh contributions made to Republicans and the Trump campaign. Numbers given here are approximate

NBC/Survey Monkey

A search of FEC records shows that Survey Monkey employees have given $646,000– or approximately 96 percent of all their contributions – to Democratic Party candidates, committees and causes since 2004. They contributed $27,500 to Republican candidates, committees and causes over that same period of time.

– The current chief executive officer of Survey Monkey, Zander Lurie, contributed $72,200 to Clinton campaign and $30,700 to the Democratic National Committee in 2016. (Notably, its previous CEO, David Goldberg, who died suddenly in May 2015, was a Republican donor, giving $15,000 to the Rubio campaign and also donating to Paul Ryan and Carly Fiorina, among others.)

– Survey Monkey’s senior vice president of global sales & strategies contributed $65,000 to Clinton campaign and $30,700 to the DNC in 2016.

– Survey Monkey employees contributed a total of approximately $125 to Marco Rubio in 2016, Republican candidates in 2016 (Marco Rubio)

– The founder of Survey Monkey contributed approximately $4,000 to the Democratic Parties of Ohio, Iowa, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, New Hampshire and Colorado in 2012, also giving more than $121,000 to the DNC since 2004.

– No contributions are reported to the Trump campaign.

ABC News Tracking

A search of FEC records shows that employees at ABC News polling partner, Abt-SRBI, gave 100 percent of their political contributions to Democratic Party candidates, committees and causes. Dollar amounts were mostly small, and we note that the vast majority of contributions were donated by one contributor.

– There were 58 contributions totaling nearly $7,500 since 2008

– Of those, 93 percent of the contributions, totaling more than $5,600 came from a single donor, opinion researcher Michael Goldstein. He gave to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Obama/Biden, Bernie Sanders, Al Franken, Howard Dean’s Democracy for America PAC and Progressive Change Campaign PAC.

– No contributions are reported to Republican candidates, committees or causes.

A search of FEC records shows no political contributions from employees of Langer Research Associates, which also partners with ABC News for its tracking poll.


A search of FEC records shows that employees at IPSOS, Reuters’ polling partner, made over 55 individual contributions to the Clinton campaign in this election cycle totaling approximately $5,000. Also:

– IPSOS employees have made approximately $23,000 in total contributions since 2004 – about 75 percent of that going to Democratic candidates, committees and causes.

– No contributions are reported to Republican candidates, committees or causes.

Some media organizations’ polling partners, however, appeared to show no significant contributions either way, including companies that are the polling partners for the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, ABC News, the Economist and Investor’s Business Daily.

CBS News/NY Times

CBS News and the New York Times partner with SSRS for their polling. A search of FEC records shows that Susan Sherr-Pollard, the vice president of demographic & policy research at SSRS, has made two very minor contributions, totaling just over $500, to Hillary Clinton’s campaign in July and September of 2016.

The FEC campaign contributions database is open to the public and can be searched by employer, occupation or individual name at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/advindsea.shtml

Leon Sculti is a writer, political analyst and digital media specialist at Rasmussen Reports who has also served as an on-camera spokesperson for the firm. The views expressed here in this commentary are his own. He declares that there are no reported contributions from employees at Rasmussen, a polling partner of Heat Street.

Editor’s Note: Louise Mensch, an editor of Heat Street, is a donor to the independent conservative Evan McMullin. Her tweets declaring this have been linked to within the text. She has also donated to the Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin. Her tweets declaring this have also been added as links within the text of this article, and in this note.

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