On Monday, we told you that Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com had ranked the nation’s pollsters.
Matt Towery’s InsiderAdvantage came in second to last.
In his company’s defense, Towery pointed to some kind words that Silver had said about his firm’s polling in 2008 during a presentation at Fordham University. And then issued a challenged. “Ask him to show me the races that we’ve missed,” Towery said.
Consider that InsiderAdvantage, which has just 74 polls in our database, has 10 cases in which they missed the final margin between the candidates by 15 or more points.SurveyUSA, by contrast, has 11 such misses — even though they have 634 polls.
In fairness to InsiderAdvantage, we should note that this is not an entirely apples-to-apples comparison. InsiderAdvantage focuses on primaries, and moreover, Southern primaries, which are very difficult to forecast. However, our method accounts to the extent possible for the degree-of-difficulty that InsiderAdvantage faces, and nevertheless finds them to be significantly below average.
About that Fordham University stuff? Silver said the university’s P.R. machine got it wrong.
Polling firms should not cite any characterization I have of their polling other than words which I speak or write directly, and they should not cite any analysis other than the most current version of the pollster ratings. The current version of the pollster ratings are the sole official product that Nate Silver and FiveThirtyEight use to evaluate the performance of different polls in forecasting election outcomes.
I have no animus toward Matt Towery or InsiderAdvantage; I hope that their polling improves (although it has been poor, it has at least been on an upward trajectory), and I am sympathetic to them because Fordham University’s account of my presentation was misleading. However, I reserve every right to become less sympathetic, and would strongly advise them to immediately “cease and desist” using my name in connection with their marketing materials. I would also advise they and other polling firms be more cautious in the future.
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