MPR, Humphrey Institute to review polling procedures

There was an 11-point discrepancy between their final gubernatorial poll and the actual election results.

Luke Feuerherm

As Mark Dayton and Tom Emmer gear up for a recount in MinnesotaâÄôs gubernatorial election, pollsters at Minnesota Public Radio and the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs have been left wondering what happened.

A little more than a week before the election, their fourth and final poll had Dayton sitting comfortably above Emmer, by about 12 percent of the vote. As it stands now, Dayton leads Emmer by less than one half of 1 percent.

MPR and the Humphrey Institute announced Thursday that they will be reviewing the methods that led to the significant difference between the polling and the actual results.

The audit will be done by Frank Newport of Gallup and will be made public when complete, according to a press release.

“We are committed to a transparent review of our polling methodology because we value the importance of continuous improvement in our efforts,” said Larry Jacobs, director of the Humphrey Institute’s Center for the Study of Politics and Government, in the release. “If a shortcoming is identified, we will fix it. If not, we will have third-party verification that our methods are sound.”

The review will include a look into the process used by MPR and the Humphrey Institute as well as raw data gathered by other polls to find out if the difference was the result of an error or outside events that affected the actual results of the election.

Many polls, including those released by St. Cloud State and the Star Tribune, showed Dayton with large leads going into Election Day, but not all missed so badly. One poll released by Public Policy Polling the Friday before the election had Dayton just three points ahead, in a virtual tie with Emmer after factoring the margin of error.