Polling News

February 9, 2017

C-Minus? Really?

FEBRUARY 8, 2017 – It’s the middle of winter, which affords us a chance to get around to topics that generally sit on the shelf, maybe for far too long.  Which brings me to this:

 Maybe you have heard of www.fivethirtyeight.com, the website that, among other things, rates political pollsters. Or, at least they used to.

If so, you probably heard that this is the guy who, halfway through the 2017 Super Bowl, declared to the nation that the New England Patriots had an only one-half-of-one-percent chance of winning the game.

Or maybe you heard of the site because that was the guy who said not long before the election that Donald J. Trump had virtually no chance to win the U.S. presidency. Or maybe it was some other high-profile misstep.  There have been many. 

Obviously, the guy who writes this website is known as a paragon of accuracy. 

No, really. He is.

And yes, this is the same site that gives Clout Research a grade of C- for our performance. This guy’s rating is based on a purposeful selection of just 9 polls released sometime in 2010. Of course, we believe that cherry-picking nine surveys out of the hundreds of polls that Clout conducted in 2010 is ridiculous and disingenuous on its face. And, we are guessing, you probably feel the same way.

So, why would a pollster ranking from more than six years ago still be posted on www.fivethirtyeight.com? It’s a good question. The website has an answer:

“I got a little burned out on them,” the website author says in a post on the site. “We last issued a major set of pollster rankings in June, 2010, and made only a cursory update before the 2012 elections.”

For us, and I am guessing, for you – since you’re reading this – that’s just not good enough.

Why hasn’t this site come clean and updated its rankings – or simply deleted them because of their obsolescence? We don’t know, either. The site has been sold, so maybe the author just doesn’t care anymore. He’s made his money and moved on. They certainly don’t answer our emails.

We have posted a summary of the results of our remarkably accurate election polling for 2016, at Cloutresearch.com. (You can get it here).

It was a great year – just like 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, and years before that. Have we had a clunker here and there? Absolutely. Everyone does – polling is part art, part science, and sometimes the variables wobble in the wrong direction. But our misses have been very few and very far between. And the real point is that, when those happen – we do extensive analysis to find out why. And we get even better.

Remember that very few of the hundreds of polls we conduct every year are ever made public, because our clients want and deserve and, frankly, pay for the tremendous advantage that confidentiality provides. Our record is one of tremendous accuracy and reliability, which stems from a better-than-industry-standard methodology and a very deep understanding of politics.

We look forward to working with you.

If you have any questions on this or any other subject, please reach out to me at any time. You can write me directly at:


Warm regards,

Fritz Wenzel

Founder and Partner

Clout Research LLC