Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Channel 9 explains lack of poll results

Where's the Poll? (Part II)
To steal a line from our recent Your Stories night, many of you must be wondering "What's up with that?" Well, here's what I can tell you.

As many of you know, last week we were forced to pull the Zogby results moments after they were reported on 9wsyr.com and on NewsChannel 9 at 5:00pm. In that case, Zogby admitted they made a mistake and used the wrong "weighting" formula, using party registration numbers from the 24th Congressional District, instead of the 25th. Along with our partners at the Post-Standard, we decided to have Zogby do a whole new poll.

This time, the Post Standard arranged an independent expert from the University of Connecticut's Department of Public Policy to review the findings of the second Zogby poll. Late Tuesday, we discovered that some of the same people who were called for the first poll, were called again. Zogby confirmed they did indeed use the same larger sample of 5000 likely voters, to come up with this "new" poll sample of 502 likely voters. Our independent expert felt this raised a red flag...an unknown variable. The concern? How would you react if you were called twice in about a week, to answer the same questions? Would you answer differently? The same? Would you even take the call?

We're not polling experts. But we were less than a half-hour until "release time" and had to make a decision. We, along with the Post Standard, immediately phoned Zogby, and starting calling additional polling experts (Marist and Gallup, for example). We received second and third opinions raising concerns about the methodology.

Meantime, John Zogby, President of Zogby International, was already on his way and eventually arrived at NewsChannel 9 studios. Mr. Zogby firmly stands by his findings. He insists his methodology is sound, and was prepared to join us live at 5:30pm to explain his findings and back-up his results. He points out pollsters often disagree about each other's methods.
With respect to Mr. Zogby, we felt the questions raised by the outside reviewers, coupled with the short time we had to make a decision, left us with only one choice: We had to pull the poll.

Believe me, it's no fun to rework your entire newscast and website with minutes to spare. It would have been much easier to go with the results, and hope for the best. But shame on us if we went to air or published information, while many questions were unresolved. Our credibility and your trust are on the line.

We appreciate your patience, and hope that you can understand that we are trying to do the right thing. We and the Post Standard are continuing to review the situation, but at this point, we at NewsChannel 9 feel any polling results in this race would be tainted.
If you have any questions, I would be happy to address them. Feel free to e-mail me at

Sincerely, Jim Tortora News Director NewsChannel 9 WSYR-TV 9wsyr.com


At 10:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right. I'm supposed to believe that Zogby can't conduct a survey properly, after two successive tries. As embarrassing as it is for Walsh to have a poll show his opponent overtaking him, at the end of the day it's just a poll. Or so I thought, until I saw everybody tripping over themselves to delay the results. All this will do is embarrass Walsh even more by wrapping it in controversy. If this unprecedented behavior by local news media over a poll keeps up, it will be a national story by the end of the week.

Enough. Let's see your numbers, and move on.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous kml said...


Riiiiight. He worked hard to pull that out of his ass.

Let's see what we have here. WSYR owned by Clear Channel. Clear Channel a contributer to Walsh.
This is a bad joke being played on the people of this district.

Why hasn't Walsh released any internals?

Whatever, let them continue to try and cover for Walsh's decreasing popularity. We have work to do people.

Donate, make calls or do whatever Maffei needs so he can win on Nov 7!

At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given that Walsh now has something on his site attacking Zogby, I have to conclude that the results showed Maffei up, and the overlords clearchannel actually pulled the plug on any excuse. When the original results showed Walsh up, they had no problem going with the story, even 15 minutes after Maffei's people told them there was a serious problem. This time there is just a disagreement about Zogby's particular methodology - not an actual mistake - but it showed Dan up, so they pulled it.


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