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Tessa Gould, Published May 27 2012

More explanation needed on Forum polling procedure

I was surprised to read Sunday’s column (May 20), “Von Pinnon: Forum stands behind poll to gauge voter sentiment.”

Upon the release of last Thursday’s poll, we privately reached out directly to Von Pinnon to explain that the highly unusual methodology meant the poll is simply not a reliable gauge of general election voters.

If Von Pinnon stood behind his poll, why not hear us out?

And if Von Pinnon stood behind his poll, why not interview pollsters about the methods and publish their comments?

Simply put, most political pollsters would not defend this kind of methodology. As others have noted, it is unclear if the pollster used has much political experience.

For example, the poll shows zero undecided voters on two statewide ballot measures. Reports suggest those who were undecided on the ballot measures were dropped from the poll.

Zero undecided voters is highly unusual. For example, even in the heated recall election in nearby Wisconsin, a recent survey of likely voters found 3 percent were still undecided weeks out from Election Day.

It’s unclear what happened to undecided voters since we’ve not reached Von Pinnon. But in general, dropping undecided voters from the ballot measures would distort the results on the Senate race, making them unreliable. In any case, using a pool of likely primary voters is simply not an accurate reflection of general election voters.

Finally, Von Pinnon’s column suggests criticism of the poll was limited to two campaigns. But last week one Republican reviewed the methods and wrote:

“Political observers have been waiting for some independent polling (polling not commissioned by partisan interests). We got it, but now it seems like we’ll have to wait for some competent polling.”

Gould is manager for Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign for U.S. Senate.