October 7, 2012

Pulling back the curtain on polls

National pollster Scott Rasmussen, who spoke in Maine last week, dismisses criticism of his methods and motives.

By Steve Mistler smistler@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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“When you have a lot of different polls showing different results, almost everybody favors the one with the results they like,” pollster Scott Rasmussen said during a presentation to members of the Maine Credit Union League in Freeport last week.

Contributed photo

Cutler's sudden surge caused confusion among progressive voters who were opposed to LePage but unsure whether Cutler or Mitchell had the best chance to beat him.

The result was a splitting of the progressive and independent vote. LePage walked away with the narrow victory.

It was Republicans' dream scenario -- one they're trying to replicate in this year's U.S. Senate race.

At the time, observers struggled to explain Cutler's surge. Some settled on conspiracy.

Rasmussen's reputation as a "Republican pollster" surfaced again. Others noted that Rasmussen was scheduled to speak at a luncheon hosted by the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a conservative advocacy group, just days after the election.

Speaking in Freeport last week, Rasmussen said that the 2010 gubernatorial race was a rare occurrence, one that probably won't be duplicated in the U.S. Senate race.

"It used to be that the third-party candidate faded away as Election Day gets closer," he said. "That's not going to happen this time. You have a former governor running."

Rasmussen was one of several pollsters to recently survey the Senate race. There were no surprises this time. His poll gave former Gov. Angus King a 12-point lead over Republican Charlie Summers. It was a larger advantage than the single-digit lead reported by Public Policy Polling, a national firm that's been pegged with a Democratic house effect.

Rasmussen suspects that Summers' polling numbers won't change much between now and Election Day.

"The variance will come between King and (Democratic candidate) Cynthia Dill," he said. "That's something to watch for."

Rasmussen will be watching, too. He plans to poll the U.S. Senate race again.

If it produces a controversial result, it's unlikely to change how he polls.

"It's worthless to get into arguments about these things," he said. "People are always going to pick the poll with the results they like."

Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: smistler@pressherald.com

Twitter: stevemistler


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