Research 2000, the pollster contracted by the Herald-Leader to gauge voter opinion before every election since the 2007 gubernatorial race, was accused by a major client Tuesday of providing "bunk" data.
Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said three "statistics wizards" recently approached him with problems they discovered in Research 2000 polling results on his heavily trafficked political blog. After they investigated further at his invitation, Moulitsas said, "extreme anomalies" suggested "quite convincingly that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk."
"We were defrauded by Research 2000, and while we don't know if some or all of the data was fabricated or manipulated beyond recognition, we know we can't trust it," Moulitsas wrote on his blog. "Meanwhile, Research 2000 has refused to offer any explanation."
The liberal blogger fired the pollster earlier this month and said he intends to sue. His State of the Nation polls tracked the favorable and unfavorable ratings for national elected leaders, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
Del Ali, president of Research 2000 in Olney, Md., said he could not respond to the specific allegations Tuesday and referred questions to his attorney, who did not return a call seeking comment.
"I can tell you, we're fine. What we're going to reveal, that will be the end of the Daily Kos," Ali said. "I can say, it has to do with people owing money."
In a statement, Herald-Leader editor Peter Baniak said the newspaper has used Research 2000 since September 2007, "and generally, the results of that polling have tracked consistently with the final election outcome."
"We are obviously concerned by the issues that have been raised about the polling that Research 2000 conducted for another client, and we will be evaluating our polling going forward," he said.
The Herald-Leader, in partnership with television stations in Lexington and sometimes Louisville, hired Research 2000 for local and statewide polling for elections as recently as May primaries.
In the U.S. Senate primary, a Research 2000 poll conducted two weeks before the May 18 election showed Rand Paul beating Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican race by 12 points, with a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points. Paul won by 24 points.
On the Democratic side, Research 2000 showed Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo ahead of Attorney General Jack Conway by 7 points, with the same margin of error. Conway won by less than 1 percentage point.
The pollster has worked for newspapers and television stations across the country. In recent months, Research 2000 has conducted polls for KCCI-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, and WCAX-TV in Vermont. In 2008, the polling company was used by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Spokesman-Review of Spokane, Wash., and the South Florida Sun Sentinel, among others.