MPR and Humphrey Institute take lumps on Dayton-Emmer poll

Not the clear favorite after all.

Not the clear favorite after all.

MPR and the Humphrey Institute released a poll the week before Election Day that predicted a victory for Mark Dayton over Tom Emmer in the governor's race.

Team Emmer complained and said its own internal numbers show the race a toss-up.


In past election cycles, results from the MPR/Humphrey Institute have been wrong and have given voters across the state bad information. The most recent poll released today by MPR and the Humphrey Institute follows this dramatically wrong yet predictable pattern.

Emmer seems to have had a better grip on reality than the University of Minnesota's public policy institute.

Today, in a very public way, they admitted they goofed when they gave Dayton a 41-29 percent lead over Emmer on Oct. 28. And the Humphrey folks said they intended to do a "thorough review" of how and why they came up with the numbers they did.

The poll results led the authors to conclusions that proved to be demonstrably off base, and prompted Larry Jacobs, the very public face at Humphrey, to boldly declare:

"This election seems to be firming up and at this point Dayton appears to be heading for a victory."

Which is we have the popular saying that the only poll that really counts is the one on Election Day.

Here are all the polls in the governor's race since the August primaries, with links to our posts.

KUSA/SurveyUSA, Oct. 29

  • Mark Dayton: 39 percent
  • Tom Emmer: 38 percent
  • Tom Horner: 13 percent

MPR/Humphrey Institute, Oct. 28

  • Dayton: 41 percent
  • Emmer: 29 percent
  • Horner: 11 percent

St. Cloud State University, Oct. 25

  • Dayton 40 percent
  • Emmer 30 percent
  • Horner 19 percent

Star Tribune, Oct. 23

  • Dayton 41 percent
  • Emmer 34 percent
  • Horner 13 percent

Rasmussen, Oct. 22

  • Dayton 44 percent
  • Emmer 41 percent
  • Horner 10 percent

KSTP/Survey USA, Oct. 15

  • Dayton: 42 percent
  • Emmer: 37 percent
  • Horner: 14 percent

Rasmussen, Oct. 8

  • Dayton 40 percent
  • Emmer 38 percent
  • Horner 15 percent

MPR/Humphrey Institute, Sept. 29

  • Dayton 38 percent
  • Emmer 27 percent
  • Horner 16 percent

Star Tribune, Sept. 26

  • Dayton 39 percent
  • Emmer 30 percent
  • Horner 18 percent

Rasmussen, Sept. 24

  • Emmer 42 percent
  • Dayton 41 percent
  • Horner 9 percent

KSTP/SurveyUSA, Sept. 15

  • Dayton 38 percent
  • Emmer 36 percent
  • Horner 18 percent

MPR/Humphrey Institute, Aug. 31

  • Dayton 34 percent
  • Emmer 34 percent
  • Horner, 13 percent

And here's the full MPR/Humphrey statement:

(St. Paul, Minn.) November 11, 2010--Minnesota Public Radio and the University of Minnesota's Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs announced today that they will undertake a thorough review of the methodology used in polls conducted during the 2010 election season. The process will include an internal review of the poll by the Humphrey Institute and an independent audit that will be made public. The independent audit will be conducted by Frank Newport, the editor and (sic) chief of Gallup.

MPR and the Humphrey Institute partnered this year to conduct four polls leading up to Election Day. The final poll, based on interviewing begun nearly two weeks before Election Day, showed results significantly different from the final election tally. This issue will be examined along with the raw data from other polls to determine whether there is a methodological reason for the difference, or whether external events account for the difference.

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

"The review of polling methodology is a necessary step in continuing to provide Minnesotans with the unbiased information they need to make informed decisions," said Chris Worthington, MPR's managing director of News.

Dean Brian Atwood of the Humphrey Institute added, "I welcome the opportunity to conduct this self analysis and peer review, a regular process for any academic institution. Professor Jacobs is an internationally recognized expert in this field. He is a professional who looks critically at his own work, as well as at polls conducted by others. We are committed to maintaining a very high standard."