Monday, February 01, 2016
Biggest loser in Iowa? The Des Moines Register
"Iowa Poll, the Steve Harvey of polls."
Congratulations to Ted Cruz for organizing a winning ticket in the Iowa caucus. That's leadership, and that is what presidents do. I thought Donald Trump would steamroll the competition. I was wrong.
Now, by a show of hands, how many of you think the Des Moines Register is the evening's biggest loser?
That's because not only did it once again back the wrong pony with its editorial endorsement (Rubio who finished third) but because its vaunted "Iowa Poll" was off. Not only did it miss the winner, but its numbers fell well outside the "margin of error" that it claims is only 4 points.
It predicted Donald Trump would win with 28 percent.
WRONG! He got 24 and the poll was off by four.
It predicted Cruz would finish second with 23 percent.
WRONG! He won with 28 and the poll was off by five. That is outside its stated margin of error.
It predicted Marco Rubio would finish third with 15 percent.
WRONG! He finished third with 23 and the poll was off by eight.
Guess what? That is the average mistake this poll makes. Counting the Democratic race, where it missed Sanders by seven points, the poll has averaged a margin of error of 7.5 points in the last 11 contested races from 1988 to 2016, inclusive.
Everyone makes mistakes, but this newspaper's failure to learn from its mistakes -- the same woman has been running this slop for 28 years -- is journalistic malpractice. The poll is useless politically, but a great marketing tool for a newspaper whose reputation exceeds its ability.
I wrote about this on Sunday, and here it is again:
Why do we bother with the Iowa Poll? The final Iowa Poll before the Iowa Caucus has been off by an average of 7.5 points in each of the nine contested contests since 1988, according to numbers at 538.com.
So much for its claim that "The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points."
The poll happy 538 site called it the best poll in Iowa. That is like being the tallest midget.
In the 2012, this vaunted poll assured everyone that Rick Santorum would finish third with 16 points.
He won with 24.5.
Only off by 8.5 points, oh vaunted poll.
In 2008, this vaunted poll assured everyone that John McCain would finish second with 26 points.
He was third with 13.
Only off by 13 points, oh vaunted poll.
In that same race, this vaunted poll assured everyone that Mitt Romney would finish third with 13 points.
He was second with 25.2 points.
Only off by 12.2 points, oh vaunted poll.
Well, it is hard to poll in Iowa, right. Yet the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls had McCain at 11.8 (off by 1.2) and Romney at 26.5 (off by 1.5).
In fact, the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls was a pretty good indicator. Its numbers produced a margin of error of 5 points, plus or minus in 2008, when the Iowa Poll was off by 13. Go check it out.
To be fair, everyone misunderestimated Santorum in 2012. But still, what is the purpose of saying the Iowa Poll is the most accurate when it averages a miss of 7.5 points every time?
I think polls have jumped the cliché.