Research 2000, source of weird Missouri poll data, accused of fraud

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Chris Koster defied Research 2000's expectations in '08.
  • Chris Koster defied Research 2000's expectations in '08.

A polling outfit whose work The Pitch questioned in 2008 is being labeled a fraud by a client.

On Tuesday, the liberal politics blog Daily Kos disowned the polls it had asked Research 2000 to conduct. The blog's founder, Markos Moulitsas, has concluded that Research 2000's survey results are "bunk" after reading a report by three statisticians who examined the Maryland company's work.

Research 2000 came to our attention in 2008, when its pulse-taking in Missouri yielded curious results.

Missourians picked a new attorney general in '08. One month before the August primary, Research 2000 said Jeff Harris was the Democrat to beat. Harris led the next closest competitor, Chris Koster, by 10 percentage points, in a Research 2000 poll.

Jeff Harris wasn't the Democrat to beat in '08.
  • Jeff Harris wasn't the Democrat to beat in '08.
Harris ended up finishing third, behind Koster, the winner, and Margaret Donnelly. (Koster won the general election, as well.)

Asked about the poll in the wake of very different results, Research 2000 president Del Ali shrugged.

"To be honest, I'm not concerned, like, 'Where did we go wrong,'" Ali told me in 2008. Ali said it was "ludicrous" to expect precision from a poll that had asked about down-ballot candidates a month in advance of an election.

Working on behalf of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV, Research 2000 also sampled Missouri voters' preferences in the presidential race. A Research 2000 poll in July showed Barack Obama leading John McCain by five percentage points.

It was a startling finding. Other polls taken at around the same time showed McCain-Palin leading the race for Missouri's electoral votes.

Five Thirty Eight, a Web site that monitors polling data, says Research 2000's polls have declined in quality in recent years. On Tuesday, Five Thirty Eight founder Nate Silver posted an e-mail that he wrote to a pollster in February in which he outlined some of his reservations about Research 2000's work.

Daily Kos plans to sue Research 2000 for producing what Moulitsas says is data "fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition."

Ali tells The Washington Post that Research 2000 did a proper job for Daily Kos. Also, a lawyer working for Ali hit Silver with a cease-and-desist letter, which he's ignoring.

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