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Rasmussen sez: “108% of Respondents Say . . .”

The recent discussion of pollsters reminded me of a story from a couple years ago that perhaps is still relevant . . .

I was looking up the governors’ popularity numbers on the web, and came across this page from Rasmussen Reports which shows Sarah Palin as the 3rd-most-popular governor. But then I looked more carefully. Janet Napolitano of Arizona was viewed as Excellent by 28% of respondents, Good by 27%, Fair by 26%, and Poor by 27%. That adds up to 108%! What’s going on?

I’d think they would have a computer program to pipe the survey results directly into the spreadsheet. But I guess not, someone must be typing in these numbers one at a time. Another possibility is that they are altering their numbers by hand, and someone made a mistake with the Napolitano numbers, adding a few percent in one place and forgetting to subtract elsewhere. Or maybe there’s another explanation?

P.S. Here are some thoughts from Mark Blumenthal

P.P.S. I checked the Rasmussen link today (9 July 2010) and the Napolitano numbers still add up to 108%. So I guess nobody at Ramussen noticed my blog that I posted earlier on the topic!

P.P.P.S. In case you were wondering: No, I can’t see how you could possibly get to 108% from rounding error.


  1. alextp says:

    Can't this be justified by a form that looks like
    "Person: ( ) poor, ( ) average, ( ) good, ( ) excellent"?

  2. Willem says:

    Love the text in the bar on the top end of the site:

    « Rasmussen produces some of the most accurate and reliable polls in the country today. »
    -Larry Sabato, University of Virginia

  3. Mark Palko says:

    Along similar lines (though with more nefarious intent), Fox News had a very amusing graph where they stretched the six months of the economic collapse by a factor of about three in order to make the point that unemployment has grown steadily over the past two and a half years.

    I have some pictures up on OE.

  4. Andrew Gelman says:

    Willem: The top of the Rasmussen page also features quotes from such luminaries as Michael Barone, Susan Estrich, and Dick Morris.

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