Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:24

Pinsonat: Jindal, Vitter and demystifying the semi-annual Louisiana polls

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pinsonatRecently, various Louisiana political observers were confused how two polls focused upon some of the same issues and released within one week of each other could be so different in their  results.


One poll, performed by Southern Media Opinion and Research Inc. and paid for by Lane Grigsby, a conservative Republican businessman revealed that Obama and Mitt Romney were surprisingly close in poll numbers among voters in the state, that Governor Bobby Jindal’s popularity had dropped significantly in the past year and that the voters were concerned about the budget cutbacks as it affected matters such as healthcare.  The poll also measured a number of other political questions.

The other poll, performed by Magellan by a pollster who formally worked for U.S. Senator David Vitter, showed Vitter ahead of all other possible gubernatorial contenders.  That poll also presented numbers that indicated Romney with a 22-point lead, not a single digit advantage as marked by Bernie Pinsonat’s SMOR poll.

One website immediately questioned the reliability of the SMOR poll in part citing Jindal’s politics-in-chief advisor Timmy Teepell, who had not seen the poll in question but who questioned the polls accuracy since it put Obama within single digits of Romney.

Ultimately, it was determined that one of the reasons for the differences in the poll numbers was the simple fact that the Magellan poll measured likely voters whereas the SMOR poll measured voters.

As a result of the confusion and allegations, Bayoubuzz wanted to get a further clarification as to the reasons and purpose of the SMOR semi-annual polls, thus posed this question to Pinsonat:

How should poll observers read your polls that you do every six months, in terms of the significance? 

Five years ago Lane Grigsby asked Southern Media & Opinion Research to conduct two statewide surveys in the spring and fall. These surveys are funded by Lane Grisgby in an effort to share the thoughts of the electorate of Louisiana with elected officials. Surveys are shared with voters in the form of press releases containing information on who paid for survey; methodology; questions asked and the percentage responses. Southern Media & Opinion Research conducts these surveys in conjunction with Ann Edelman, Director of Public Relations-for Zehnder Communications. Ann is involved in every aspect of conducting these surveys and does a great job of writing and releasing survey results. Her firm is employed by Lane Grigsby. Of course my partner, Buster McKenzie is also involved in these surveys. Last, and the most important person involved in survey decisions is Lane Grigsby. Oh, almost forgot, legal counsel is also involved. Lane Grigsby does not and would not allow SMOR to be affiliated with any statewide elected official.

The significance of these surveys being conducted every six month is to provide a timely update on political issues that have either just occurred (latest survey we looked at the voters opinions of the recently enacted education reform in the last legislative session) or significant legislative issues in the news that will be included in the upcoming legislative session. Rating the job performance of statewide elected officials is another area that these semiannual surveys measure. In the fall of 2010 SMOR’s semiannual survey showed Governor Jindal’s job performance rating with voters falling significantly – about six months later in SMOR’s 2011 spring survey, Governor Jindal popularity had bounced back and he was reelected with minor opposition. Political surveys are only a snap shot of the days the survey is conducted and that picture can change a lot in six months – a year later is an eternity for political surveys. 

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