The remaining New Jersey polling institutions should take a lesson from Patrick Murray, Director of The Monmouth University Institute.

”I blew it,” Murray unambiguously admitted.

”I owe an apology to Jack Ciatterelli’s campaign - and to Phil Murphy’s campaign for that matter - Because inaccurate public polling can have an impact on fundraising and voter mobilization efforts. But most of all I owe an apology to voters of New Jersey for information that was at the very least misleading,” said Murray.

I give Murray credit for his honesty. They had a big miss in the Decision 2021 race for Governor of New Jersey.

Murray went so far as to openly state that it may be time to scrap election polls altogether. This would be a smart move.

The Eagleton Institute and Stockton University Poll have taken a more nuanced approach and are not directly accepting responsibility for their part in the most recent election polling mess.

That’s a mistake. They should have stepped up just like Murray did and taken direct responsibility for their poor performance.

Instead, they’re torturing the English language and trying to get away with convincing voters that their polls are only “snap shots” in time and not meant to be predictive.

That’s Poppycock. Every consumer of these polls takes them as predictive. There’s no other way to take them, as they report who is leading in a particular race at a specific time.

If a poll comes out right before an election, or, as in the case of the Stockton University Poll, 4 days into early voting (regarding Vince Polistina versus Vince Mazzeo District 2 Senate race) … the reader has no choice but to take it as though a particular candidate is winning and the other must be losing.

For quite a long while, polling in New Jersey - as well as all over the country - has been consistently very inaccurate.

I have been calling for polling reform for more than 30 years, because the inaccuracy by the various pollsters has played great mischief and a disservice with elections at the state and national levels.

Bad polling can direct effect:

  • The outcome of elections.
  • Fundraising for candidates who have been adversely affected by bad polling.
  • Voter mobilization efforts.
  • Public’s confidence in the election process.
  • It causes confusion.
  • Potentially can result in voter suppression.

Murray wrote a very honest commentary for last Thursday and gave an interview to NPR yesterday. Murray admitted that the institution’s polling has been way off.

A Monmouth poll predicted that New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy would win by 11 percentage points over GOP challenger Jack Ciattarelli. Instead, Murphy was barely able to eke out a win, which angered both Republicans and Democrats.

"Some organizations have decided to opt-out of election polling altogether, including the venerable Gallup Poll and the highly regarded Pew Research Center, because it distracts from the contributions of their public interest polling," he wrote, noting the Quinnipiac poll — "a fixture during New Jersey and Virginia campaigns for decades" — issued no surveys for either state this year.

"Perhaps that is a wise move," Murray wrote. “If we cannot be certain that these polling misses are anomalies then we have a responsibility to consider whether releasing horse race numbers in close proximity to an election is making a positive or negative contribution to the political discourse.”

Murray expanded on his concerns with "horse race numbers" in the NPR interview.

"One of the thing that worries me right now … if the misses come a little more frequently … and makes people say ’I don’t trust polls anymore’… we’re not doing a very good job," he lamented.

"The first rule of polling, … you know who your population is," he added. But in a "more volatile electorate … many of them say ‘I don’t trust any of you.”

Murray added that he’ll be deciding what to do about "the horse race question" as he considers the future of polling for the Monmouth University Institute.

Eagleton and Stockton University should have owned this mishap in the exact manner that Murray has.

The only way to truly solve a problem is to admit that you have one.

Murray did just that. The others have not, yet. I think that they will before too long.

NOTE: I’m a huge Stockton Unuversity - Dr. Harvey Kesselman fan. Everything that they do … is first rate all the way … except for this nagging failure in the area of public polling.

I know why many Universities get into the polling business. You receive great publicity when your poll garners national attention.

However, there is such a thing as good publicity and bad publicity. When you chronically mess your mark and get it wrong … this generates bad publicity.

Stockton University is simply too fine of a higher learning institution to consistently fail in this arena.

SOURCES: Harry Hurley research, Stockton University, Monmouth University, Eagleton Institute and National Public Radio interview.

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