Battle of the Pollsters

Venerable Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg is none too happy with a recent Republican poll, and he's letting the firm responsible for it have an earful.

Some background: former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie recently launched "Resurgent Republic," a firm explicitly modeled on Greenberg's Democracy Corps. According to the firm's website, Resurgent Republic "seeks to replicate on the right the success Democracy Corps has enjoyed on the left. As does Democracy Corps, Resurgent Republic will make survey and focus group results publicly available. It will promote conservative free market principles such as lower taxes and economic growth, and support strong national defense policies."

Gillespie took to the airwaves this week touting the results of his first poll: voters oppose President Obama's budget.

"51 percent of the respondents oppose it," Gillespie said on NBC's Meet the Press, "and more independents aligned with Republicans in opposing that budget than Democrats."

Greenberg, who heads Democracy Corps along with James Carville, is now firing back, calling Gillespie's poll biased and poorly constructed.

In an open letter to Gillespie, Greenberg says the poll's findings on party identification are statistical anomalies and blasts the "self-deluding bias in question wording."

The poll found a +2 party identification for Democrats INCLUDING "leaners" (self-described independents who "lean" toward one party or the other). Greenberg argues this is an outlier. But without leaners, the margin is +4. As Resurgent Republic co-founder Whit Ayres pointed out to me, that's not TOO far off from the +7 margin Gallup found last week. (Rasmussen, for comparison found about a +6 spread.)

Greenberg also accused Gillespie of partisan bias in question wording, pointing especially to the budget question.

Here's what the poll asked: "President Obama has proposed a budget for next year that would spend three point six trillion dollars and have a deficit of one point four trillion dollars. In general, would you say you support or oppose that budget proposal?"

Greenberg says the bare numbers are not all voters will consider when evaluating the budget.

The survey also tested different arguments for and against the budget, with varying results (when the survey framed the budget as filling "unmet needs in education, energy, and health care," a slim majority responded favorably.) The number Gillespie touted on Meet the Press--51% oppose the budget--was the response to both the "bare numbers" question and at least one other "framed" questions.

Here's the poll and Greenberg's critique. Parse away.