Saturday, December 7, 2013
Get ready for the catnip.
Public Policy Polling, the North Carolina-based polling firm, has conducted a survey in Maine that will likely generate some buzz over the next couple of days. As is custom with PPP, the firm took to Twitter foreshadow some of the results.
About 60% of Mainers think Paul LePage is causing the state national embarrassment— PublicPolicyPolling (@ppppolls) August 24, 2013
PPP typically releases its results over two days to maximize media attention, so expect the survey to arrive in installments.
Also expect LePage's reelection campaign to question the credibility of the poll. It's happened before and Brent Littlefield, LePage's political adviser, was on the case last week when PPP conducted an online contest to see which state it would poll next. Littlefield, who tweeted that the poll was catnip for the media, also reiterated his frequent claim that PPP is a Democratic polling firm.
He's not alone in the claims that PPP is a biased firm. Last year some snarky genius created an alternate Twitter account for PPP dubbed Partisan Policy Polling (It's last tweet was sent Nov. 6, election day, predicting an overwhelming win for President Obama; "any other result is due to evil voter suppression.").
Nonetheless, the real PPP has a pretty decent track record, at least according to the people who evaluate polls for a living. Last year the Wall Street Journal found that PPP was among the best firms in predicting outcomes in swing states during the presidential election. Former New York Times statistician Nate Silver had a similar assessment.
Of course, the poll that's released over the next two days shouldn't be viewed as more than a snapshot in time. And, as Pollster.com's Mark Blumenthal always writes, a poll's random sample method, full question wording, sample size, etc. should all be disclosed if the poll is to be trusted.
PPP usually meets the minimum requirements for methodology disclosure, which is why some, but not all, media outlets feel confident publishing its results. Last month, a much-hyped poll commissioned by the National Education Association showing LePage "in deep trouble," publicly disclosed very little about its poll. That's why some media outlets, including this one, didn't run with the results (It's also why internal polls offered by partisans are viewed with skepticism).
A quick digression about PPP: The firm is known for sometimes asking weird questions, presumably just for kicks. In May, it found that only 16 percent of Americans have a favorable view of hipsters. The firm was immediately criticized for not defining hipsters.
Fortunately, PPP received some help in the comments section.Tweet
Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.