We’ve previously been critical of aspects of the polling business on this site, including the work of St. Pete Polls. However, in the most recent high-profile Florida elections, the March Special Election in Congressional District 13 and the Democratic Primaries for Governor and Attorney General, St Pete Polls were almost spot on. Polling is a fluid business and methodologies and styles of pollsters often change through time.
In the David Jolly-Alex Sink Special Election St Pete polls nailed the turnout model and the result. Being a local Pinellas firm, perhaps that was an easy one for them, but two statewide Democratic Primary races would be difficult for even the most seasoned polling firms typically.
Last Friday, St. Pete Polls released a survey commissioned by Saint Petersblog looking at the two statewide Democratic Primaries. The results were for some unbelievable to comprehend – Charlie Crist with a 50 point lead for Governor and George Sheldon with a 20 point lead for Attorney General. The margin of error on the poll was 2.3%. The reaction among some political insiders was to discount the poll’s results. Others figured it might be fairly accurate but still several points off as historically we have seen in pre-primary polls.
Well last night when the dust settled, Crist had won statewide by 49 points and Sheldon had won statewide by 22 points. How was St Pete Polls so accurate?
Matt Florell who runs the firm said to TFS this afternoon that St Pete Polls spent quite a bit of time constructing the random call lists for the statewide poll. They pulled proportional numbers of Democratic voters from every one of Florida’s 120 State House districts to ensure that it would have a high probability of both geographical as well as demographic representative samples.
The results speak for themselves. We have been quick to call out polling firms in the past for sloppy work, but in this case we must single out a company for doing an incredibly good job and going the extra mile to ensure accuracy.