The final Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers was pulled Saturday night shortly before it was to be released, supposedly because of a complaint that a name was left off the list of choices. As a result, the historically accurate, 76-year-old Iowa poll will not be released before Iowa voters caucus on Monday.
CNN had planned an hour-long show to cover the results of the poll live and had to cancel at the last minute.
The announcement stunned the political world and led to widespread speculation that the real reason the poll was spiked was because they didn’t like the results.
According to The New York Times, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign complained that his name was left off the list of candidates in one call interview.
The poll is conducted by telephone from a call center, where operators read from a prepared script of candidates’ names to determine who a voter plans to support. One operator had apparently enlarged the font size on their computer screen, perhaps cutting off Mr. Buttigieg’s name from the list of options, according to two people familiar with the incident who did not have permission to speak about it publicly.
After every phone call, the list of candidates’ names is randomly reordered, so Mr. Buttigieg may not have been uniquely affected by the error, one of the people said. But the poll’s overseers were unable to determine if the mistake was an isolated incident.
There was also a report that a poll taker mispronounced Buttigieg’s name.
The voter was an Iowa City area man who says the Iowa Poll polltaker didn’t name Buttigieg when asked which candidate he preferred.
Voter said when she read a new list, she mispronounced Buttigieg’s name. https://t.co/MHRPktNkJy
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) February 2, 2020
“Nothing is more important to the Register and its polling partners than the integrity of the Iowa Poll,” DMR executive editor Carol Hunter said in a statement.
Today, a respondent raised an issue with the way the survey was administered, which could have compromised the results of the poll. It appears a candidate’s name was omitted in at least one interview in which the respondent was asked to name their preferred candidate. While this appears to be isolated to one surveyor, we cannot confirm that with certainty. Therefore, the partners made the difficult decision to not to move forward with releasing the Iowa Poll.
The Register has published the Iowa Poll for 76 years, and it is considered the gold standard in political polling. Selzer & Co., which conducts the poll, is recognized for its excellence in polling. It is imperative whenever an Iowa Poll is released that there is confidence that the data accurately reflects Iowans’ opinions.
A pollster who spoke on condition of anonymity told American Greatness that it was “highly unlikely” that Buttigieg’s name would be mispronounced on such an important poll. “The phone workers are prepped on pronunciation,” she said, adding, “this was an important poll, little chance this was just blown off.”
The pollster also explained that a call center manager walks around and listens to the calls while they’re being made.
“Ann Seltzer [of Selzer & Co] is pretty reputable,” she noted. “Call centers should be monitoring the calls, if they notice something wrong, they can fix ASAP and not trash the entire poll … there’s no way this poll was messed up.”
Some reactions to the move on Twitter:
The Des Moines Register Poll didn't kill itself.
— jon gabriel (@exjon) February 2, 2020
Same #Iowa #poll got Iowa 2016 totally wrong. Yet called the “gold standard” then & now. Undersampled Evangelicals, missed late deciders. Released poll at big weekend party instead of continuing to survey thru weekend to capture late deciders. https://t.co/8ioZ6L2RVk https://t.co/r5dFYS0zyO
— Kellyanne Conway (@KellyannePolls) February 2, 2020
Folks on both the left and the right were suspecting foul play, Saturday night.
A poll showing Joe Biden collapsing (which might effect caucus voters) wouldn't be pulled from the public on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses, would it? https://t.co/wH4l8FgXQO
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) February 2, 2020
— TheLastRefuge (@TheLastRefuge2) February 2, 2020
— Ian J Porterfield (@IanPorterhouse) February 2, 2020
Two polls last week showed Sanders surging.
Breaking News: Bernie Sanders has opened up a lead in Iowa in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, a New York Times/Siena College poll of likely caucusgoers found https://t.co/lxA4W5KCUb
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 25, 2020
BREAKING: Another new Iowa poll has Bernie way out ahead of all the other Democrats. Winning Iowa is an odd strategy in my opinion. It likely leads to Bernie winning in New Hampshire and then in Nevada, which would be incredibly divisive. https://t.co/jcyS8p2Bhu
— Nate's Liver – Commentary (@SilERabbit) January 27, 2020