Almost every newscast of note refers to the “RealClearPolitics average of polls,” which the commentariat has come to rely upon as a way of smoothing out the inevitable differences between polls and the various methodologies they represent.
With success comes a problem, however, and that is the old rule of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Should “RCP,” as it is known among those who rely upon it, do something to guard its currency against devaluation?
Having built the best brand in the business, ought RCP’s editors to take some role in preserving the quality of its product?
Here’s the problem.
Any media organization can commission a poll. The quality of the results depends upon the professionalism of the pollsters conducting the survey.
Some polling organizations are so routinely lousy over a long enough period of time that they lose all credibility. Think Zogby. Ask yourself when you last saw a Zogby poll being cited as useful data?
Other polling efforts are kept afloat by big name sponsors despite long standing records of terrible bias, like the Minnesota Poll which is simply an occasion of mirth among folks like the bloggers of Powerline who have long tracked that polls hopelessly left-wing bias. The sponsorship of the Minneapolis Star Tribune keeps the Minnesota Poll going despite its transparent hackery.
PPP is a Democratic house which provides useful data if one corrects for the lie of the green.
Strategic Vision is thought to be biased in favor of conservatives, but I and some other conservatives view it’s results with some skepticism.
Rasmussen, by contrast, is generally thought by those on the center-right of the political spectrum to provide accurate results, as is Gallup.
So it goes. Everyone has opinions of pollsters, and RCP uses a blender and produces a broth that most folks find palatable.
Now, however, The New York Times/CBS/Quinnipiac poll of swing states raises a new question of whether obviously busted polls should be included in the RCP average.