We’ve all heard of scams taken on to gain a steady lead in what may serve as one of the most sensationalized moments in history to reoccur every four years. Of course, I’m referring to the presidential debate, or more likely what the majority of us refer to as the string of obnoxious, toll-free calls that go unanswered. Just this weekend I had to endure the phone literally ringing every five minutes then hanging up as soon as the voice machine picked up. I finally answered to hear a rattled off speech about an involuntary election survey. Needless to say, I politely declined.
Another form of tacking on potential voters is through automated polling, or interactive voice response (IVR) polls. Recently, Forbes writer Martin Fridson unwrapped the alleged rigging of presidential preference polls and how it can severely impact naïve investors.
“My main interest in that realm is criticizing Democrats and Republicans alike for supporting inefficient subsidies to special interests,” Fridson carefully clarifies.
This entire debacle revolves around one accusation; that prior to the first presidential debate (when the majority of opinion polls painted a pretty picture of Obama in the lead), Republican pollster John McLaughlin charged certain polling organizations with deliberately outweighing Democrats in their samples of prospective voters, Fridson explains.
According to Forbes, McLaughlin said:
“The Democrats want to convince [these anti-Obama voters] falsely that Romney will lose to discourage them from voting. So they lobby the pollsters to weight their surveys to emulate the 2008 Democrat-heavy models. They are lobbying them now to affect early voting. IVR [Interactive Voice Response] polls are heavily weighted. You can weight to whatever result you want.”
This is obviously a heavy remark to make, as it directly violates the code of ethics as presented by the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), which Fridson promptly brings to light, which states that “we shall not knowingly select research tools and methods of analysis that yield misleading conclusions.”
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There seems to be an easy way to slip through the cracks here, as with some swing states like Ohio, a democratic preference outweighed republicans by a mere two percent.
“That sort of analysis persuaded 42 percent of voters that the polls were biased against Mitt Romney, with fully 84 percent of Tea Party members suspecting intentional skewing,” Frisdon continues.
“One need not be a naïf to doubt the alternative explanation, an egregious ethics violation under the nose of the professional association’s immediate past president.”
While the case is still under investigation, one can only wonder what lengths will be taken to see a preferred candidate win.
Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli