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A polling lesson for the future

Thursday, Mar 22, 2018

* From March 11th…

Interested parties:

I expect to release final polling results before the election. In advance of the inevitable wailing and gnashing of teeth from whichever candidates are behind in the poll, let’s cut to the chase.

I checked. There are other organizations that have compared my final polling numbers in previous elections against both those of other polling companies and against the actual election results. I think you will find that our numbers stack up very well against both other companies and final election results.

These comparisons are of the final polling numbers, not polls done weeks or months before the election, before millions of dollars of advertising and endless campaigning change the numbers.

As some of you know, I began in the polling business more than thirty years ago with the late, great Mike McKeon as my mentor. To many who know about polling, McKeon was the gold standard for a long time when it came to polling in Illinois elections. I learned from the best.

I have no polling client in the Governor’s race, and indeed have never even met any of the major candidates of either party. I have no polling client in the Attorney General race, or the Cook County Assessor race. When I have a polling client for a released poll, I am not shy about saying so. Please allow the historical facts in the attachments to guide your decision about whether to cover or not cover my final polling results, not irrelevant garbage strewn about by whichever candidate wishes they had done better in the poll.

And as always I’m available to answer any questions.

Rod McCulloch
Victory Research

* His poll was released on March 18th, two days ahead of the election. I didn’t post it, tweet it or anything. Others did and some folks I know asked me why I didn’t. I had my reasons, but mainly I just didn’t feel right about it. Plus, I was told some off the record numbers from various people I trust (and their numbers all turned out to be incredibly accurate), so I figured I’d wait. If he was right, I’d apologize for not posting the polls. If he was wrong, I’d post his results…

In the final Illinois poll before the March 20th primary, Governor candidate J.B. Pritzker remains the front-runner to win the Democratic nomination, according to the poll. Pritzker holds a nearly six point lead (32.0-26.1%) over nearest competitor Chris Kennedy. State Senator Daniel Biss is third with 21.7%. Three other candidates combined for 3.8%.

Pritzker ended up winning 45-27-24. Not even close. Biss placed second. He got Kennedy almost right, though.

Glad I didn’t write about it.

* There was also this

The race for Cook County board president is shaping up to be closer than expected, a new poll by Victory Research of 701 people from Cook County March 13-March 15 shows. The pollster is employed by candidate Bob Fioretti. Toni Preckwinkle: 42 percent. Bob Fioretti: 41 percent. Undecided: 17 percent

Preckwinkle won 61-39.

* Meanwhile, from March 19th…



I have no idea who those people are, so I didn’t share their “results” with you. And instead of losing by a small margin, Erika Harold won by 18 points.

Unless you totally trust the source, don’t fall for late polling results.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

23 Comments
  1. - Anonish - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 3:57 pm:

    What were they hearing?
    What they wanted to.


  2. - Arsenal - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 3:59 pm:

    McCulloch, of course, has a terrible history. You were right to ignore his late poll, and it gave some others a very distorted picture of where the race stood.


  3. - Ahem - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:05 pm:

    For the love of God, Mary Ann Ahern, please stop reporting the silly McCulloch polls. This guy is only trying to peddle his polls to desperate candidates.


  4. - VanillaMan - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:06 pm:

    Professor Marvel, whom Dorothy met in Kansas would be using his crystal ball not to conjure up Aunt Em, but to sell polling services, if he were around today.

    In the old days of land lines and four television networks, polling could be believed.

    Not much anymore, right?


  5. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:12 pm:

    Every one in Illinois politics other than Mary Ann knows not to trust Rod’s polls. Mary Ann was warned. I’ve been told she didn’t take it well.


  6. - Board Watcher - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:16 pm:

    Did one in the 6th district commissioner race in cook county had the eventual 3rd place loser winning by 15pts. In the end the guy didnt get 15% who came in 3rd.


  7. - Molly Maguire - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:19 pm:

    The “pollster” also said Ives was going to win


  8. - Arsenal - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:40 pm:

    ==Every one in Illinois politics other than Mary Ann knows not to trust Rod’s polls. Mary Ann was warned. I’ve been told she didn’t take it well.==

    She seems to be a little spikey with JB’s team, though frankly that may be more of a problem for JB than her.


  9. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:45 pm:

    He lost me at Mike McKeon was the gold standard.


  10. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:46 pm:

    === What they wanted to. ===

    Yeah. And polls are like crack in the heat of a campaign. People can’t get enough of ‘em.


  11. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 4:56 pm:

    ===Not much anymore, right? ===

    Wrong. Completely wrong.

    You missed the entire point of this post.


  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 5:02 pm:

    Rod’s one of those colorful characters who somehow continues to make a living, I assume, off of politics.


  13. - Chicago Cynic - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 5:22 pm:

    “He lost me at Mike McKeon was the gold standard.”

    Yea, thought that was pretty funny myself.


  14. - Fan - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 5:51 pm:

    Rod is a misguided soul who should be ignored in this business. I don’t wish bad things for him but he should not be taken seriously in this line of work.


  15. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 6:05 pm:

    Polls such as these “trusted” ones create the narrative those who get them want to play. If Mary Ann Ahearn had a poll showing a Pritzker blow out is that really the narrative she wants? News sources need to find real pollsters if they are going to rely on them or find their own instead of taking tips from hucksters and charlatans.


  16. - Responsa - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 6:38 pm:

    On several occasions this cycle Mary Ann seems to have lost herself inside the stories and drama and tweets rather than reporting with caution. It’s very disappointing to have watched her muck up her reputation –and especially so over a silly poll.


  17. - Rich Miller - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 7:19 pm:

    Responsa, she wasn’t alone on that one. We all make mistakes. I wouldn’t single her out. I made an abundance of them. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, I love me some Mary Ann.


  18. - anon2 - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 7:22 pm:

    When I heard a few days ago his poll had Fioretti behind by 1, I thought there was something suspect. I wonder how much Fioretti paid for that?


  19. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 7:42 pm:

    ===how much Fioretti paid for that?===

    In fairness, he pretty much nailed Fioretti’s final number. I guess every single undecided voter went to Preckwinkle. Who could have seen that coming? Lol.


  20. - Ahem - Thursday, Mar 22, 18 @ 9:24 pm:

    = we all make mistakes =

    True, however, McCulloch and his fake polls have been around for years. Additionally, he is well known for years of other political fraud as well. Not only did Mary Ann publish his poll, she mentioned his crimes. This wasn’t a mistake, it was willful.


  21. - Say What? - Friday, Mar 23, 18 @ 12:12 am:

    This fellow has lost all credibility. In addition to a felony conviction, he does not produce as a campaign guru. Look at two of McCulloch’s judicial candidates during this primary: one failed to make the ballot after her petitions (circulated by paid workers) were insufficient to withstand a challenge; the other, an attorney who bared her assets for Playboy, got negative bar ratings and lost to the endorsed party candidate.


  22. - Ahem, Ahern - Friday, Mar 23, 18 @ 6:15 am:

    In a pique about Preckwinkle, she hash tags “tooclosetocall” when parroting a phony poll and that she couldn’t get an interview? That’s reporting?


  23. - Funfactschicago - Friday, Mar 23, 18 @ 11:50 am:

    Rod Mcculloch was also bob fioretti’s campaign manager. Go figure why the loss and wrong polls


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