| Looking back at the 2011-2012 election cycle provides an opportunity for accountability - both positive and negative - for political analysts, candidates, campaigns, pundits, and pollsters. Over the next few weeks, I hope to get to the first four on that list. Today, though, I want to focus on the best and worst polls (and pollsters) of Virginia during 2011-2012. (source)
BEST VIRGINIA POLLS AND POLLSTERS OF THE CYCLE (Note: the actual results are available here - Obama 51%-Romney 47%; Kaine 53%-Allen 47%)
1. PPP's November 4 poll had Obama up 51%-47%, which turned out to be the exact results! PPP also had Tim Kaine up 52%-46%, which nailed the 6-point margin exactly. Very, very impressive!
2. JZ Analytics/Newsmax came close to nailing the final results as well, predicting Kaine by 7 points and Obama by 8 points in their final poll of the cycle. Not too shabby, especially when the poll was by the widely-mocked John Zogby, paired with the far-far-far-right-wing-loony Newsmax. Maybe they canceled each other's badness out and ended up with goodness? Heh.
3. The Washington Post's last poll of the cycle, about two weeks out, came close to nailing it as well: Obama 51%-Romney 47%; Kaine 51%-Allen 44%. Nice job!
4. Believe it or not, Rasmussen of all pollsters had Kaine up 7 points a few weeks out. The problem is, Rasmusssen had the race moving towards George Allen in the closing days, with their final poll showing Kaine up just 2 points, and the one before that showing Kaine up just 1 points. Meh.
5. A few other pollsters who did reasonably well in Virginia during this cycle were NBC/WSJ/Marist, Ipsos-Reuters, Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS, and Garin-Hart-Yang (D-DSCC). Nice job, everybody!
WORST VIRGINIA POLLS (AND POLLSTERS) OF THE CYCLE
1. The most hilariously, outrageously awful pollster of Virginia this cycle was, by far, Roanoke College. Starting off in March 2011, with a poll that can't even really be called "crap," because that's an insult to good fecal material everywhere, is this, this...thing, showing George Allen leading Tim Kaine by - wait for it - 13 points (!!!). Uh guys? Bwahahahahahahaha.
1a. Another truly abysmal Roanoke College poll came on October 31, 2012, just days before the election. In this debacle, Roanoke College had Kaine and Obama both down FIVE points in Virginia, meaning that they missed the final results a few days later by 9 and 11 points, respectively. Wow.
1b. Even more hilariously, that Roanoke College "poll" (using the word VERY loosely) came just a few weeks after another one of their "polls" showed Obama up 8 points and Kaine up 10 points. That's right, according to Roanoke College, there was a 15-point swing towards Romney and Allen in Virginia during October 2012. Seriously, just shut this "pollster" down and spare us all the misery. (Note: I thought about looking at Roanoke College "polls"' internals, but then I thought, why even bother, these polls are so awful it doesn't even matter what the internals are, might as well have just pulled them out of their butts for all they're worth...)
2. Republican hack "pollsters" Wenzel Strategies, Gravis Marketing, McLaughlin, and Pulse Opinion Research/Let Freedom Ring all had George Allen up (from 2 to 5 points) in the closing weeks of the 2012 campaign. Not even close, although not as abysmal as the beyond-laughable Roanoke College.
3. We Ask America had a bizarre poll back in June 2012 showing Allen up 9 points over Kaine. This one's a bit surprising, as Nate Silver rated We Ask America as fairly average. Not this poll, though, which was a major stinker.