Matt Towery

For example, while other pollsters showed then-Florida gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist ready to blow his Democratic opponent Jim Davis out of the water in the 2006 governor's race, Quinnipiac reported the race to be very tight and suggested that independent voters were "dramatically" moving away from Crist and toward Davis as the race concluded. The opposite happened, and Crist won comfortably.

That's just one example of why many who really know the political landscape question why a Connecticut university would migrate its work to Florida, where journalists and pundits have accepted it as an expert on the political polling process in what is arguably the nation's most important political playground.

As Brad Coker, head of Mason-Dixon, joked, "I figured [Quinnipiac] wanted more name identification in Florida so they could build recruiting for a Division 1-A football team!"

Maybe Coker is right. But this raises a much bigger issue. Are universities that publish polls presumed by the media to somehow be more reliable because there are professors and students involved?

Why all this fuss about polling? Well, like it or not, pollsters are here to stay, and the political and news worlds live and breathe by them.

In the instance of the Quinnipiac poll showing Giuliani with a monster lead over Thompson, it became all too obvious that it's time to call out this polling organization.

Maybe they're right and everybody else is wrong. But it's unlikely. At the very least, Quinnipiac numbers should stop being taken at face value as the paragon of accuracy in Florida. Somewhere in their methodology they continue to misread the state they claim to know so intimately.

With Fred Thompson making comically misguided statements, like the one this week that he might be open to the possibility of drilling for oil in the Everglades, the man may yet self-destruct. Then the Quinnipiac poll becomes self-fulfilling. (This has happened before in the polling business.)

Maybe we should get ready for Quinnipiac to cart off all those quality Florida football players and look forward to them winning the national championship one day.


Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a former National Republican legislator of the year and author of Powerchicks: How Women Will Dominate America.
 
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