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Democratic pollster admits hiding unfavorable poll results

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Public Policy Polling, the Raleigh, North Carolina polling house that recently published a poll showing Democrat Mike Michaud leading in the 2014 gubernatorial race, admitted on Wednesday that it concealed poll results that were not favorable to Democrat causes and politicians.

According to Politico: “Public Policy Polling admitted Wednesday that it decided to not release a poll earlier this week showing a Colorado lawmaker being recalled by a wide margin, saying the firm did not believe the results.

“State Sen. Angela Giron was voted out 56 percent to 44 percent, along with the state senate leader John Morse, in a recall election Tuesday night that was triggered by their support of gun control measures.

“On Wednesday, the left-leaning polling firm released results from a poll it took over the weekend, which showed Giron being recalled 54 percent to 42 percent, a 12-point spread that matched actual results. PPP said it withheld the poll, not believing the margin.”

Last week, The Maine Wire published a story critiquing the Michaud campaign for claiming that the earlier PPP poll, which showed Michaud leading Republican Gov. Paul LePage by 4 points, was an “independent” poll.

[RELATED: An independent poll?]

The objectivity of PPP is questionable, as its president and CEO Dean Debnam, as well as other PPP employees, have donated exclusively to Democratic politicians, according to Federal Election Commission records. Even Politico, in the foregoing quote, describes the pollsters as “left-leaning.” And Nate Silver, former blogger for the New York Times, has said that PPP’s polls contain a house bias in favor of Democrats.

The revelation that PPP censored a poll that did not align with their political agenda sparked a Twitter battle between Silver and PPP:

Elsewhere, Nate Cohn of the New Republic also criticizes PPP’s polling methodology from 2012.

Writes Cohn, “After examining PPP’s polls from 2012 and conducting a lengthy exchange with PPP’s director, I’ve found that PPP withheld controversial elements of its methodology, to the extent it even has one, and treated its data inconsistently. The racial composition of PPP’s surveys was informed by whether respondents voted for Obama or John McCain in 2008, even though it wasn’t stated in its methodology. PPP then deleted the question from detailed releases to avoid criticism. Throughout its seemingly successful run, PPP used amateurish weighting techniques that distorted its samples—embracing a unique, ad hoc philosophy that, time and time again, seemed to save PPP from producing outlying results. The end result is unscientific and unsettling.”

Despite a consensus in the national media and polling community that PPP’s polls should be taken with a grain of salt, The Maine Wire’s critique of PPP’s polling here in Maine, sent Mike Tipping, left-wing blogger for the non-profit Maine People’s Alliance, apoplectic.

Writing over at his Bangor Daily News blog, the self-described “spokesguy” for MPA unleashed a venomous treatise against The Maine Heritage Policy Center, which owns and operates The Maine Wire. Wrote Tipping, “In leveling unfounded accusations against PPP, they have only once again exposed their own biases.”

[RELATED: Maine People's Alliance descends on Augusta for leftist lobbyist training day...]

In light the obvious bias PPP has shown, it would seem criticism of the firm’s professional standards is entirely warranted, in Maine and elsewhere.

Skepticism of the left-leaning polling firm is especially warranted given the unique three-way nature of Maine’s gubernatorial race. Anyone paying attention to the race, and liberal Democrats in particular, knows that the chief threat to Michaud’s campaign is unaffiliated candidate Eliot Cutler.

By touting a Democratic poll as independent, Michaud’s campaign, Tipping and the Maine Democrats are trying to send a message to left-of-center voters: Cutler isn’t viable; you are stuck with Michaud.

While the PPP poll may become a self-fulfilling prophecy, a scientific measure of public opinion it is not.

[UPDATED: Mike Tipping acknowledges Public Policy Polling's problem plagued methodology in his latest blog post.]

S.E. Robinson
MaineWire Reporter

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