In addition to the media, pollsters have been on the defensive during the last two days trying to offer explanations for missing out in a big way on Hillary Clinton’s victory in New Hampshire on Tuesday night. One such pollster, American Research Group (ARG), has offered an interesting spin on their polling results.
ARG released 18 surveys on the New Hampshire race dating back to December 2006, including 5 polls in the last week and a half before the primary. In its latest poll, conducted January 6-7 (the end date being the day before voting), ARG measured Barack Obama’s support at 40 percent, Clinton at 31 percent, and Edwards at 20 percent.
“While we missed the final number that Clinton would make in New Hampshire, our polling was one of only two daily polls that showed Clinton regaining support following her drop in New Hampshire the day after the Iowa Democratic caucus. Clinton was moving up in the final days and hours before the primary, and our polls and the Rasmussen polls were the only daily polls to catch Clinton’s rebound.”
What ARG does not mention is that only 4 pollsters conducted surveys through January 7th and neither Rasmussen nor ARG had Clinton polling as high as another poll – Suffolk University (who found Clinton’s support at 34 percent). In fact, of these 4 pollsters, ARG showed Clinton with the second largest deficit (9 points). Suffolk showed a 6-point deficit, Rasmussen showed a 7-point deficit, and Zogby showed a 13-point deficit.
ARG’s claim that their data found Clinton regaining support is true: in their last three polls she gained from 26 to 28 to 31 percent. But ARG fails to mention that Obama was also gaining support in those same three polls: from 38 to 39 to 40 percent.
ARG’s final word on the matter is perhaps the most striking:
“We did not have a polling problem, we just ran out of time.”
Now that is the kind of spin some of the candidates could use in their campaigns.