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“Gallup gives up the horse race: As pollsters confront unprecedented obstacles, the biggest name in the business backs away”

A couple people pointed me to this news item. I don’t have anything particular to say here, but it seemed worth noting. End of an era and all that.

P.S. A colleague commented: “They’re not going to poll one of those things where we can tell if you get it wrong. Not good.”

I replied: Gallup is not a public utility. It was my impression that those horse-race polls were a loss leader to Gallup, a way for them to get their name in the newspaper and help sell the paid poll questions that make money for them. But if the publicity is negative, I can see why they might not want to do this anymore!

7 Comments

  1. Rahul says:

    Objectively, were they doing worse at predicting this result recently than in their past history?

  2. Andrew McDowell says:

    At least historically, association with political polling is of special value to market research organizations like Gallup. I was once requested to be interviewed by a similar organization, and I agreed because I was interested in the results of their political polling. In fact I found the whole thing incredibly boring, because I spent the vast majority of the interview answering brand recognition questions about consumer products, many of which I had no intention of ever buying. If Gallup are getting out of political polling, it might say as much about the decline of the traditional face to face interview as about their track record forecasting elections.

    • zbicyclist says:

      (from the 538 link) “Gallup uses rigorous polling methodologies. It employs live interviewers; it calls a lot of cell phones; it calls back people who are harder to reach. More than that, it took the criticism it received after the 2012 election seriously, even bringing in outside help to figure out what went wrong. Gallup rates as solidly average in FiveThirtyEight’s pollster ratings in large part because of those techniques. It’s had two bad elections recently, but it’s never a good idea to judge a pollster on just a couple of election cycles; Gallup has also had good years.”

      Are we perhaps at the stage where the response rate is so low that attention to rigorous polling methodologies is misplaced (e.g. relative to strong attention to post-adjustment)?

      • zbicyclist says:

        As for Pew, perhaps they’ve realized the election isn’t for a long, long time yet. The current poll results will look humorous from a perspective of next July (when I predict Trump, Carson, and Fiorina will be just trivia questions*). Others are quite willing to conduct polls right now. Perhaps Pew thinks there are better places to spend their endowment to have a unique impact.

        *quick: fill in this sentence (from Wikipedia)
        ” Howard Dean led the Democratic pack in the early stages of the ____ campaign.”

        • zbicyclist says:

          (writing months later, in late April, 2016)

          I was wrong when I wrote “next July (when I predict Trump, Carson, and Fiorina will be just trivia questions)”.

          Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

  3. Jacob says:

    Gallup received a serious fine and was forbidden from federal contracting after pervasive overbilling came to light a couple of years ago. It’s pretty obviously a mismanaged company.

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