Strategic Vision, the Republican-oriented polling firm based in Atlanta, came out this morning with another statewide poll on the governor’s race and health care.
John Oxendine and Roy Barnes still lead in their respective Republican and Democratic primaries, and most Georgians don’t agree with Jimmy Carter on the topic of race and Barack Obama.
We’ll get to those details in a bit.
First, it must be noted that, earlier today, the American Association for Public Opinion Research, a kind of brotherhood of pollsters, publicly censured Strategic Vision for its failure to cooperate in an investigation into voter surveys conducted during the 2008 presidential primaries.
New Hampshire was the main focus – you’ll remember that Democrat Hillary Clinton surprised everyone with her win there. Twenty-one organizations were asked to provide their statistical internals in order to help figure out what went wrong.
A final report was published in April. One finding: Techniques for developing polling models – weighting and such – are becoming increasingly murky. Often they’re declared to be trade secrets, and protected as such. The AAPOR argues that transparency is the only way to maintain public confidence in polling.
Said the association today, in a statement posted on its Web site:
Strategic Vision LLC was the only polling firm that did not provide sufficient methodological information (as defined by the AAPOR Code) about its surveys and refused to provide that information in response to AAPOR’s repeated direct requests.
For more than one year, AAPOR was unable to obtain the following basic information about Strategic Vision LLC’s polling in New Hampshire and Wisconsin: who sponsored the survey; who conducted it; a description of the underlying sampling frame; an accounting of how “likely voters” were identified and selected; response rates; and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used. AAPOR considers the release of this information for public polls to be a minimum requirement for professional behavior among those who conduct public opinion research.
The AAPOR specifically said it did not challenge the accuracy of Strategic Vision’s polling.
Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson said his firm had wanted to appeal the judgment, and said a Sept. 17 hearing had been scheduled – and then canceled by the AAPOR. “We’ve asked for a copy of the complaint that was filed against us, and who filed it,” Johnson said. “How can you respond to something when you don’t know who filed the complaint.”
Moreover, he added, “We’re not a member of their organization. I don’t know anything about them.”
Johnson provided a June e-mail from the AAPOR in which the organization acknowledges that Strategic Vision provided some of the information that was requested, after the study of 2008 primary polling was completed:
…[T]thank you for the recent e-mail correspondence in which you provided some of the information requested regarding polls in New Hampshire and Wisconsin. This information about the survey sponsor, the organization that conducted the survey and the sampling frame will be shared with the task force that conducted the evaluation of the methodology of the 2008 pre-election primary polls. However, your actions now do not change the fact that Strategic Vision, LLC, was repeatedly noncompliant in response to prior requests for disclosure….
The AAPOR is a 62-year-old organization with about 2,000 members, drawn from commerce, politics, academia, and government statistical agencies. George Gallup was an early president, according to the association’s Web site.
The current president, Peter Miller, is a professor associated with the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. The AAPOR’s next president will be Frank Newport, editor-in-chief of the Gallup Poll since 1990.
Miller called this afternoon to say the AAPOR had sent Johnson notices four times asking him to confirm his attendance at that hearing last week, and finally ended up canceling because of the lack of any response.
He acknowledges that the head of Strategic Vision is not a member of the AAPOR.
“It really is irrelevant to us whether he or anybody else is a member. It’s a professional, a scientific responsibility for anyone in public opinion research to be transparent,” Miller said. “It’s our job, it’s our duty to try to encourage people to do that, and to basically disagree with them when they refuse to. It doesn’t matter if they’re our members or not.”
“What we are asking for is people in the profession to behave in a professional manner, and to release the methods through which they do their research – because these are crucial to understanding it,” Miller said. “That’s our whole interest. That’s all we care about. We’re not trying to make some claim about the quality of Johnson’s research or anybody else’s.”
Here’s the catch:
“We’re saying we can’t know anything about quality if we don’t know what you did,” Miller said.
Now, about those Strategic Vision polling results released today:
If the Republican primary for governor were held today, for whom would you vote?
John Oxendine 38%
Karen Handel 15%
Nathan Deal 10%
Eric Johnson 6%
Austin Scott 3%
Ray McBerry 2%
Jeff Chapman 1%
If the Democratic primary for governor was held today, for whom would you vote?
Roy Barnes 45%
Thurbert Baker 30%
David Poythress 5%
Dubose Porter 2%
Former President Jimmy Carter said recently that much of the opposition to President Obama and his health care policy is based upon racism. Do you agree or disagree with this statement?
Do you support or oppose Congress passing health care reform legislation before the end of the year?
Do you believe that all Americans should be required to have health insurance?
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