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(53,061 posts)
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:20 PM Nov 2012

DU Exclusive: Paleologos' bizarre behavior at Suffolk U: Incompetent or part of the Gravis Con?

We all have seen the gritty 50's drama about the good hearted fighter who has to raise money to pay for his sister's operation (or some other soap opera twist) and takes a dive for a few bucks.

In the post Citizen's United era the spigots were opened at hundreds of millions of dollars started flowing into SuperPacs and we now know that not all of the money was used to buy ads. Where did some of that money go? Some of it went, as we all know, into a well orchestrated voter suppression campaign. Contractors were caught, voter registration applications were found destroyed but strangely no investigative reporters have gone after the larger question, what was the larger strategy? Who was behind it, who funded it and who implemented it. These are the questions that started with a few burglars at the Watergate apartments and unveiled the vast operations of wide ranging activities headed by Liddy in illegal campaign activities. Will today's reporters live up to the tenacity and courage of those in the 70s?

Among the questionable trends that were detected in the 2012 campaign was the sudden surge of right wing pollsters who came out of nowhere and were providing 30% of the polls in key swing states. In fact one of the pollsters' behavior was so odd that we took an in depth look at the people behind the polls and under the glare of exposure moved the pollster from his position in January to proclaiming that he had been a "manager of national campaigns" to conceding in October that "I am a robo caller, not a pollster".

But that wasn't the only strange behavior of a pollster during the campaign.

In fact another pollster, David Paleologos' (the president of Suffolk University Political Research Center and bearer of the surname of the family that, in this context is extremely fitting, is the last ruling dynasty of the Byzantine Empire) behavior is so strange that questions have to be raised as to his motivation and conduct. These are questions that Suffolk University must address.

First the facts

Suffolk University Polling Results in Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida and the actual results;


September 26 SUP finds President Obama leading by 2%.

On November 6 Virginia votes for Obama +3%

North Carolina

No SUP polls, however there are these polls:

Survey USA on October 2nd has the President up by 2.

PPP on September 27th has it a tie

On November 6 Romney wins North Carolina by 2.2%


SUP runs a poll May 6 Showing President Obama +1

SUP runs a poll September 27th showing President Obama +3

It appears that President Obama is going to win Florida by .5 of the vote

So we have a situation at the end of September where Suffolk University polling is showing the President ahead in Virginia and Florida and other reputable pollsters have NC tied (or Obama slightly ahead).

And then we have this on October 10th


With a little less than a month until the election, one pollster says the race in three battleground states is over for President Barack Obama.

“I think in places like North Carolina, Virginia and Florida, we’ve already painted those red," David Paleologos, the president of Suffolk University Political Research Center told Fox host Bill O'Reilly on Tuesday. "We’re not polling any of those states again. We're focusing on the remaining states.”

Paleologos is clearly lying because his own latest polls showed Obama ahead and where he didn't poll it was basically tied.

In light of this bizarre behavior there was an immediate reaction of astonished disbelief and then laughter at the lunacy of the claims by Suffolk University Pollster.

A sampling

Tampa Bay Times calls Paleologos "Loser of the Week"


Loser of the week: Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos. Suffolk is relatively new to Florida polling, and Paleologos bizarrely declared on the Fox News Channel that it would no longer poll in Florida, North Carolina or Virginia, because he is convinced President Barack Obama will lose those states. He clearly has little understanding of Florida, which nobody with a political brain can take for granted.

And this from the New York Magazine

Pollsters Puzzle Over Suffolk’s Decision to Call Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina for Romney

Even Bill O'Reilly couldn't believe what he was hearing: David Paleologos, pollster for Suffolk University, was announcing on Fox News that he was pulling out of Florida, Virginia, and North Carolina for good. Romney, it seems, has them in the bag. "We’ve already painted those red, we’re not polling any of those states again,” Paleologos said.

This is an absolutely bizarre decision on its face. The Real Clear Politics polling average currently shows a tie in Florida, Obama up 0.3 percent in Virginia, and Romney up three in North Carolina. There's still nearly a month left until Election Day. How could a pollster possibly call those states for Romney?

. . .

So Paleologos called Florida for Romney because their most recent poll showed Obama with a shaky lead. We're ... even more confused now.

Looking for some answers, we asked some of Paleologos's fellow pollsters what they thought of the decision. None of them had very flattering things to say.

"I think all three of those states are still toss-ups," Public Policy Polling's Tom Jensen told us. "We’ve already polled Virginia since the debate and Obama was up by 3. I don’t agree with his assessment, and I don’t know why he would have made it without even conducting any polling after the debates."

Gary Langer, who runs the ABC News/Washington Post poll, quipped tartly, "With that kind of foresight, we should find out who he likes in the fifth at Aqueduct."

SurveyUSA CEO Jay Leve was harsher. "This guy from Suffolk is obviously a jackass," he said.

David Paleologos extremely bizarre behavior and attempt to throw three swing states into the Romney camp didn't just happen. Here is the context. Please note from above the last polls done in VA, NC and FL:

On September 12th we predicted that the Romney Campaign (as opposed to the SupePACs) was likely to experience cash problems. Eight days later the New York Times confirmed that the official campaign funds were going dry and the Romney campaign would borrow $ 20 million to make it throught the end of the month:



Things are looking bad for the Romney campaign's finances. It must be frustrating to look over to the SuperPACs that are awash with an ocean of money and not have enough money to pay for the expensive infrastructure of the campaign. Overhead, Rent, Polling, Transportation, Staff and so on, cost tens of millions a month and cannot be subcontracted outside the campaign. Ironically campaign funds are well regulated and transparent. If you don't believe that just ask John Edwards who ran into massive legal problems on a technical question of misusing campaign funds.

Somehow something has to be done to get more direct donations into the Romney campaign, or they will have to take out more loans which like the first one, will be reported.

Now we have the Gravis miracle.

After 7 non Rasmussen polls in a row show Obama ahead in North Carolina. A brand new pollster comes out with a radically different result.

On October 6th Douglas Kaplan presents the Romney campaign with a magicial result North Carolina is now almost double digits for Romney, he's up 9. As the first highligted link shows we have released a number of articles showing that Kaplan has no academic or professional experience in polling and a checkered (to be kind) past. Under scrutiny he admits that he is not a pollster and that some of his polls "are not very good".

But on October 6th these are the numbers that the right wing media has been thirsting for. The media eats it up and the RW blogosphere explodes and Gravis becomes the most quoted pollster on the internet and becomes a production line of favorable state polls. On October 24th Gravis will anoint the Romney campaign with another blessing of a +8 showing. Along with a few happy Rasmussen polls North Carolina is moved to a lock for Romney.

North Carolina is critical because Romney has to switch 4-5 states from Obama 2008. He has Indiana and Missouri and the next one should be North Carolina which the President won by a hair. If he cannot win North Carolina by a large margin he is not going to be able to flip ANY other state.

So the October 6th poll showing a huge swing for Romney will be great news if it can be believed.

Enter David Paleologos' absolutely incomprehensible statement on October 10th in which he disregards his own and other polling and states that NC, VA and FL are not only going for Romney by large margins (which none did) but that the margins are so wide that no other polling is even necessary.

My, my what a wonderful set of circumstances that show a complete reversal of fortunes for Romney (and which we know by the election day results are completely untrue) that triggers a flow of new contributions back to the campaign.

Just as Kaplan has been discredited it is now appears that David Paleologos was part of a larger con.

Of course we 'could' be wrong and that David Paleologos is, like Kaplan, just an incompetent pollster that happens to produce statements that save Romney's ass.

Part of a conspiracy to create a false meme to help a campaign or utterly incompetent, in the words of another pollster, a jackass, which do you think fits, David?

This is the question that we will be addressing to Suffolk University, the trustees, the administration, the faculty and the students.

Why would you keep a professor that is either corrupt or incompetent.

When James Keefe III pulled his fast one on ACORN we weren't fooled but we were slow.

Fool us once shame on us. Fool us twice and we organize.

We will be following up to bring the bright light of DU onto the incompetent and/or corrupt pollster David Paleologos in our next article. In this case the offense is on many levels. We have an academic using his position to spread false information on the behalf of a campaign and go on partisan media to promote it. But it goes even more than that because David Paleologos didn't just work with bad data he tried to shut down lines of inquiry. This is absolutely unacceptable in any self respecting academic institution and violates everything that a University stands for. It must be held accountable.

Last time we had a number of people join DU and provide us confidential material. We checked it against numerous sources and when verified released it. To date none of the essential facts have been disputed. If anyone reading this has inside information and would like to share it you can join DU and send me DUmail and maintain your confidentiality. We had numerous members of the Gravis Working Group who we only identified by a number and whose real names I never learned.

For the record: The New York Times and Nate Silver have not responded to any of the facts that we have brought forth about Douglas Kaplan and his own admission that &quot he) is not a pollster" hopefully by painting a larger context they will see the significance and do their duty.

DU Exclusive: Paleologos' bizarre behavior at Suffolk U: Incompetent or part of the Gravis Con? (Original Post) grantcart Nov 2012 OP
Has Paleologos been interviewed since the election? Mayberry Machiavelli Nov 2012 #1
who said he is going to get away with it? grantcart Nov 2012 #3
You should put ALL this into a book. cliffordu Nov 2012 #2
Gravis Marketing was 15th out of 28 polling firms krawhitham Nov 2012 #4
I am surprised that Gravis wasn't higher grantcart Nov 2012 #6
I had always just assumed that the right-wing polls were cooked djean111 Nov 2012 #5
The reason why PPP looks Democratic leaning is because they tell the truth and the other grantcart Nov 2012 #7
fascinating CreekDog Nov 2012 #8
thanks grantcart Nov 2012 #11
Breaking: Math is Good. mathematic Nov 2012 #9
I hope your reading skills are better than your math skills grantcart Nov 2012 #10
Doug, is that you? MuhkRahker Nov 2012 #14
Just another GOP piece of shit who was hoping to depress the Democratic vote Daniel537 Nov 2012 #12
The larger strategy certainly included muddying the waters so that bleever Nov 2012 #13

Mayberry Machiavelli

(21,096 posts)
1. Has Paleologos been interviewed since the election?
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:26 PM
Nov 2012

Even though I knew his statement was bullshit at the time, he was talking a little about "this flood of data" that apparently was going to show Romney easily taking FL, NC and VA, but if the data was theirs, how come they didn't publish at least a final poll showing any of this?

I know, I know, the real answer is "there was no such data".

But I just wonder how a guy who represents an actual, supposedly unbiased, polling firm can get away with saying something like this.


(53,061 posts)
3. who said he is going to get away with it?
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:31 PM
Nov 2012

In the middle of the heat of the campaign he goes under the radar and the campaign moves on.

This time we are going back and pursing answers to the questions that you raise.

I could not find any response to the harsh criticism levelled at Paleologos after 10/10.

But we know that there isn't any because he didn't even poll in FL and the polls he did in September showed different results. The only data that he could be referring to is from Gravis, ARG and Rasmussen which brings us back to the basic questions

Incompetent or corrupt.

In either case not worthy of being a professor.


(30,994 posts)
2. You should put ALL this into a book.
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:29 PM
Nov 2012

The Kaplan stuff and this is REALLY powerful.

Excellent work, my friend. Stellar.


(4,620 posts)
4. Gravis Marketing was 15th out of 28 polling firms
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:40 PM
Nov 2012

Top 5
1. Ipsos/Reuters
2. YouGov
3. PPP (D)
3. Daily Kos/SEIU/PPP
4. Angus-Reid*
5. ABC/WP*

Bottom 6
24. National Journal*
25. Rasmussen
26. Gallup
27. NPR
28. AP/GfK

Suffolk U is not even on the list



(53,061 posts)
6. I am surprised that Gravis wasn't higher
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:50 PM
Nov 2012

If you are going to run a con and try to have a big impact on a few states, like CO, NC VA then you would bring the rest of the results in the middle of the pack.

When I was young NW Airlines would always have the first contract with the unions. They would take a hard line, the unions would go on strike and the other airlines would chip in to help NW.

NW would have higher profits in strike years than in normal years.

Sometimes you can make more money by not doing the work.

I don't know why Fordham didn't include them but SUP seemed to be very accurate and even leaning Obama. The controversy here is not the polls that they did do but pronouncing the races a lock and refusing to do anymore, and then going on FOX to promote your personal opinion.



(14,255 posts)
5. I had always just assumed that the right-wing polls were cooked
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 12:41 PM
Nov 2012

to either garner more contributions or to help hide voter suppression.
My expectation is that the GOP will now devote more time and money to voter suppression.


(53,061 posts)
7. The reason why PPP looks Democratic leaning is because they tell the truth and the other
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 01:34 PM
Nov 2012

look biased.

Reminds me of Truman

Someone yells Give em hell

And he responds "I tell the truth and they think it is hell"

PPP tells the truth and they think it is Democratic.


(1,401 posts)
9. Breaking: Math is Good.
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 02:08 PM
Nov 2012

I've tried to read all your threads on all these issues but I admit it's tough. Between grandiose pronouncements, confusing first person plural pronouns, frustratingly poor research methods, and borderline unethical reporting I've been tempted to just pass these posts over.

You've attacked Kaplan over his drunk driving arrests from years ago, the fact that he's taken classes at many schools (some with poor academic reputations), and that he doesn't have the education or experience to design polls. None of these things prevent somebody from effectively starting or running a credible polling firm. An executive does not need to know the technical details of the work he or she is managing.

Polls can and should be judged on their statistical merits. You have not done so with Gravis. Notably, you linked to an analysis you claimed came from a statistician that contained a statistical criticism of a Gravis poll. The anonymous author never claimed to be a statistician and his or her analysis was not statistical but arithmetic and demonstrated a severe misunderstanding of poll weightings. This was pointed out in comments here on DU as well as in comments at the linked story. You haven't retracted your claims and you never addressed the comments. As pointed out above, Gravis' performance was judged to be in the middle of the pack of a few dozen pollsters.

You claim that Kaplan has said that "[he] is not a pollster" and "I am a robo caller, not a pollster" but I checked your posts on DU and the Human Events story on Kaplan and I couldn't find those quotes anywhere. You seem to be quoting yourself and attributing these quotes to Kaplan.

And now you have a new target. Paleologos' alleged crime is that his polls favored Obama so he stopped polling. What you haven't explained is why a small time pollster ceasing polls in a highly competitive marketplace consisting of dozens of pollsters is suspicious or important at all. Furthermore, why would you be upset that a person you think is ideologically compromised stopped polling?

With the Silver's triumph over his critics, I was hoping that scholarly analyses of research methods would take primacy over hyperbolic character attacks.


(53,061 posts)
10. I hope your reading skills are better than your math skills
Fri Nov 9, 2012, 04:49 PM
Nov 2012

Unfortunately I have only a few minutes to respond so I will go to the meat of your reply

"I am not a poster"

Before my article in October Doug Kaplan had gone on a long extended campaign of serial lying and self promoting that had created a completely fraudulent public image of a national pollster with years of experience and lots of field experience.

Listen to this interview:


In it he talks about polls he has done and polls he is releasing that day, about field work he did in Iowa. My favorite however is at the 22:09 he states verbatim

"I have run a number of campaigns both at the Presidential and local level. If I had been in charge of that campaign then the next day we would have had a press conference and declared victory.

He kept this lie going for several months when in August he started to issue polls and these polls were accepted into the mainstream as being from a pollster.

After we exposed multitudes of lies about Kaplan he then states the following in the interview

1) He has no formal education in statistics or political science
2) He has not in fact worked as a campaign manager for Presidential or local campaigns
3) He has not worked for any polling company

He has how ever

A) conceded that he evolved his business from making the calls to asking the questions
B) admitted that early polls (which would have been the polls we were complaining about in September) "were not great"
C) had to hire a "statistician"
D) hired a Washington DC insider as a political adviser

A pollster is someone who either through academic or professional experience conforms to the standards and practices established by one of the professional peer groups. In the context of Gravis Wang referred to the particular standards and practices that he would expect him to comply with.

Kaplan is a guy who lied for months about his background and experience and only when we called him out on it did he admit that he, himself doesn't have any of that.

Kaplan admits that he doesn't have any Academic, or professional experience. He isn't a member of any professional polling associations for pollsters. Hiring a 'statistician' and a 'political' adviser doesn't make you a 'pollster' it is simply a guy that hired a 'statistician' and a 'political' adviser. And the fact that he now admits that some of his polls are 'not very good' raises the obvious question "if you know the business why would you release a poll that is not very good, and how did exactly when and how have you gotten the ability to know what is a good poll". Now it is entirely possible that he is getting help from a competent pollster/statistician now. That still would not make HIM a pollster just somebody that hired a pollster.

Finally the ultimate test of a professional polling firm is that you get paid for your work. Kaplan has stated that all of the polls are on his dime and that he makes no money from them.

So my snarky pithy "I am not a pollster" is not a verbatim quote its what you get when you add a person who says that he has

no academic experience
no professional experience
is not compensated for his polls
doesn't subscribe to any peer review associations or up hold their practices
has to hire statistical and political competencies because they are outside of his own
admits that some of his polls "are not very good".

Now if you place his statement that he "ran a number of campaigns both at the presidential and local level" and the dozens of lies that he has made about his polling prior to August in juxtaposition to my "I am not a pollster" I think my slightly exaggerated snarky simplification stands up.

But if you are unhappy with it then that it is a criticism of my approach, which is fine. It does not change the fact that Kaplan lied extensively about who he was and what he did and his professional abilities.

And if it hadn't been for my blogging (not reporting, I would have been happy to have a reporter take the leads that we had and the leads we still have about other allegations by companies that Kaplan worked for and his associates). But if they won't do it then we will continue to expose the lies and misdeads. Kaplan did not say that any of the charges that we made were untrue, just that they were unfair.

As for Kaplan's references to where he studied you missed the point completely. It isn't that he doesn't have formal education (Neither does Rasmussen, atleast in statistics, but he has learned the business and I frankly don't have that big of a problem with Ras. He has a bias but if you factor that in atleast you know what you have. The criticism about Kaplan's 'education record' is that In various CVs he lists completely different schools and apparently cannot keep his lies apart. Also if you are going to lie about what school you are going to why would you pick one that is itself the target of investigations.

A pollster is providing information. If everything that you can check out about that pollster can be proven to be not true then why would anybody rely on the things that you cannot check to be true?

New Subject

Paleologos' alleged crime is that his polls favored Obama so he stopped polling. What you haven't explained is why a small time pollster ceasing polls in a highly competitive marketplace consisting of dozens of pollsters is suspicious or important at all. Furthermore, why would you be upset that a person you think is ideologically compromised stopped polling?

You must have skimmed the post very quickly. I don't think that Suffolk University is compromised, I thought that they had quite a reputation.

The charge against David Paleologos is not that he stopped polling because Obama was ahead. The charge is that he went from reporting what the people are saying via the polls to trying to help create a meme of what the polls were saying in order to influence what people should think. He mentions that the data that he has seen allows them to "paint the states red" when in fact his own polls show the contrary. If he has the data then release the data.

In any case an academic pollster should be encouraging polling and more information not try to discourage it. Then to go on to partisan media and try to deliver slanted analysis under the guise of an academic standing is highly unethical. The fact that you didn't pick that up from the extremely strong reaction from his peers is interesting in itself.


Polls can and should be judged on their statistical merits. You have not done so with Gravis. Notably, you linked to an analysis you claimed came from a statistician that contained a statistical criticism of a Gravis poll. The anonymous author never claimed to be a statistician and his or her analysis was not statistical but arithmetic and demonstrated a severe misunderstanding of poll weightings.

I don't have a statistical degree and never offered an opinion on the statistical merits of Gravis polls. I assumed that if a person was going to completely fabricate a poll they would still create a viable spread sheet and that the numbers would be real, even if the people were not asked so I never addressed the statistical question. Sam Wang did. He did say that he thought that there might be an insignificant weighting problem that would account for the questions people asked and that would account for it. That the statistical questions raised could not rule the poll a fraud by a simple statistical analysis.

But more to the point is your "Polls can and should be judge on their statistical merits". This is frankly a very sophmoric view of polls. I don't have a statistical degree but I do have a political science degree. Polls are a blend of political science ( or sociology or psychology depending on the subject). Polls cannot be evaluated simply on the basis of their 'math'. Even in the first year 101 class you can see how you can get strongly you can influence how the question is structured, what vocabulary is used and so on.

For example this NYT article explains that the question "Who do you think will win" is a better question to ask people than "Who are you voting for


A version of that question has produced similarly telling results throughout much of modern polling history, according to a new academic study. Over the last 60 years, poll questions that asked people which candidate they expected to win have been a better guide to the outcome of the presidential race than questions asking people whom they planned to vote for, the study found

I am sure that have lots of other points to bring up that you think are relevant but I will probably not be back much before Tuesday, so don't interpret the timing of my response as my lack of interest.

Here is the bottom line:

Kaplan was and is untruthful. If you can disprove virtually everything about a person that you have access to why in the world would you believe any information he has about things you cannot check?

David Paleologos' actions in November clearly violate ethical questions on both the academic and the polling front and it shocked people when he did it. He needs to answer for them. I don't think we should look the other way. If you don't agree on that point we aren't going to have much to talk about.


(1,560 posts)
12. Just another GOP piece of shit who was hoping to depress the Democratic vote
Sat Nov 10, 2012, 02:09 PM
Nov 2012

Hope the fucker rots now that the President has officially been declared the winner in Florida.


(20,616 posts)
13. The larger strategy certainly included muddying the waters so that
Sat Nov 10, 2012, 02:40 PM
Nov 2012

any result created by the flipping of votes in key precincts, counties, and states would be defensible.

They were setting up cover.

You're doing great work on this.

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