Saturday, August 21, 2004

Untransparent polling in Venezuela

Al Giordano does a good job critiquing the Penn, Schoen & Berland poll, which perhaps single-handedly (if a poll can be described that way) gave further momentum to the anti-chavista opposition's refusal to believe what everyone else in the world has accepted: that Chávez won.

In another post, he rightly ridicules a rather lame attempt by Michael Barone to defend Penn & company, which was once President Clinton's chief pollster. He also links to a piece by Robert Collier in today's San Francisco Chronicle, that also sheds some light on polling in Venezuela.

Apparently, Penn & company never revealed who funded its effort in Mexico in 2000 (it was later revealed to have been then opposition candidate, now president, Vicente Fox), and similarly we still don't know who actually paid for their poll in Venezuela--an apparent violation of the ethics code of the American Association of Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). Point number one of the "Standards for Minimal Disclosure" of that code states that pollsters should disclose "who sponsored the survey, and who conducted it."

We do know that Súmate volunteers essentially carried it out (another ethics violation by Penn et al., since they didn't disclose this, but also a huge methodological mistake, since Súmate members are not trained pollsters and likely biased). This fact has caused confusion among many reporters, who have attributed the poll to Súmate itself, an issue I noted in my comment on the NYTimes piece yesterday. The problem with this is that Súmate itself came out with a quick count that basically backed up the official results.

I queried Giordano on this today, but he didn't have any answers, and posted my note to see if anyone else does.

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