Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas has announced that multiple polls conducted for his website were probably fabricated by Research 2000, the company he hired as his pollster.
Initially, Moulitsas says, he decided to fire Research 2000 after an analysis by the website Fivethirtyeight.com concluded that the company’s polling work was inaccurate. Three statistical experts then volunteered to look a little deeper at the Research 2000 numbers, and pretty quickly concluded that something was seriously wrong. “People who have been trusting the R2K reports should know about these extreme anomalies,” they wrote. “We do not know exactly how the weekly R2K results were created, but we are confident they could not accurately describe random polls.”
We contracted with Research 2000 to conduct polling and to provide us with the results of their surveys. Based on the report of the statisticians, it’s clear that we did not get what we paid for. We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don’t know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can’t trust it.
Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation. Early in this process, I asked for and they offered to provide us with their raw data for independent analysis — which could potentially exculpate them. That was two weeks ago, and despite repeated promises to provide us that data, Research 2000 ultimately refused to do so. At one point, they claimed they couldn’t deliver them because their computers were down and they had to work out of a Kinkos office. Research 2000 was delivered a copy of the report early Monday morning, and though they quickly responded and promised a full response, once again the authors of the report heard nothing more.
No response to the allegations has been posted at the Research 2000 site.
Alarmed, I’ve gone back to look to see how often I cited Research 2000 polls. I found three instances in the last two years. In April 2009 and again in September 2009, I cited Research 2000 polls done for Daily Kos that broke down political attitudes by region, including the South. I also cited a third poll, in May 2009, that purported to find that 43 percent of Georgia Republicans believed the state would be better off as an independent state than as part of the United States. (Initially, “I averted my eyes from that poll because frankly, I did not believe those findings and did not want to believe it,” I wrote, but decided to mention it after four of six GOP candidates for governor endorsed a Senate resolution threatening the dissolution of the United States.)
Daily Kos says it will be suing Research 2000 for fraud. It’s hard to know how that will turn out, but the company’s apparent lack of a response and refusal to provide raw data don’t make it look good.