ICYMI: Experts Agree: Flawed Fargo Forum Poll Misses the Mark
By Mark Blumenthal, Senior Polling Editor
…In North Dakota, a poll by the Fargo-Moorhead Forum on May 17 showed Republican Rep. Rick Berg leading Democrat Heidi Heitkamp by 7 percentage points (51 percent to 44 percent), but Democratic critics charged that this poll had too narrow a sample.
In this case the poll, conducted by Iowa based Essman/Research, screened for “likely voters” but for the wrong election. The poll of 500 likely primary voters had been designed to measure preferences in North Dakota’s June 12 primary, not the November general election, but included a question about the likely general election contest between Berg and Heitkamp.?
By Mark Mellman
Independent should never be confused with accurate. A poll conducted by North Dakota’s Forum of Fargo-Moorhead is likely independent, as its purveyors claim, but fatally, indeed laughably, flawed.
First rule of polling — sample the right people. If you are trying to gauge sentiment in California and exclude everyone north of Los Angeles, the poll won’t be an accurate guide to the state. Survey Kansas and you won’t know much about Iowa. Poll primary voters only and you can’t say anything meaningful about the general election.
Yet the last is just what the Forum did….
…Let’s talk about the single biggest, most glaring of the various fatal flaws in the Forum’s polling results: It appears the pollster discontinued phone calls if the respondent was undecided on either Measure 2 or Measure 4. The pollster’s report shows they surveyed exactly 500 people. 128 support measure 2; 372 oppose measure 2. Zero, apparently, were undecided. 128 + 372 + 0 = 500. On measure 4, 280 support the measure; 220 oppose the measure and zero, apparently, were undecided. 280 + 220 + 0 = 500. This is the same pool of people they used on questions unrelated to these ballot measures.
So, if you’re going to believe the Forum’s pollster, 100% of North Dakotans have made up their minds about BOTH Measure 2 AND Measure 4?!? Or at least 100% of North Dakotans planning to vote in the primary have made up their minds on both of those measures?!? And that’s a good body from which to reasonably extrapolate November election results. Just ask them.
That’s obviously messed up. Obviously, the Forum’s pollster ended the call if the respondent was undecided on how they were going to vote on either Measure 2 or Measure 4 in the June primary. And they considered that to be a representative sample of everyone that’s going to vote in November? That’s just stupid. I’d call it naive, but it’s not; it’s stupid….
And we’re all supposed to accept the infallible Essman/Research poll reports, even though over 30% of their respondents came from “Case” and “Ware” Counties?
They started with the best intentions – it appears, at least. Poll North Dakota residents about the June 12th primary. But when they chose to go with an unprofessional polling firm, used a flawed methodology and then dug in their heels and refused to admit their mistakes, they embarrassed themselves and the institution of journalism….And finally, Matt Nowatzki wrote a lovely little piece about all of the past Forum polls that have been right. You mean, the MSUM polls? The group you foolishly decided not to go with this time?
Yeah, that’s convincing.
Harrison Hickman: Fargo Forum #NDSen “poll” is not reliable. It samples PRIMARY not GENERAL election voters. Valid polls have race close, Heitkamp ahead.
Reid Wilson: Weird part of that ND SEN poll: They only polled likely PRIMARY voters. So indies are completely overlooked. Suspect methodology.
Josh Kraushaar: @Mysterypollster en fuego on questioning the methodology of Fargo Forum #NDSEN poll. He’s right.
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