The Codcast: 2 pollsters talk shop

Americans love polls. Except when they don’t say what they want them to say.

Donald Trump could not tout his poll numbers enough when he was winning the surveys and the votes in the primaries and then early on in the election cycle when they showed him with a lead over Hillary Clinton. Now, as surveys around the country show his support waning, he dismisses many scientific polls as being rigged and suggests they often miss the silent Trump wave.

“I’m not sure the polls have changed,” says data expert John JohnsonCEO of Edgeworth Economics in Washington, DC. “The results have. The time you really should trust the polls is the closer you get to the election.”

Trump and his surrogates have taken to brandishing opt-in surveys published by a number of websites, most of which showed him destroying Clinton in the debates, counter to the results from scientific polls that had more voters thinking the Democratic nominee was the winner in all three debates.

Steve Koczela, president of the MassINC Polling Group, says those self-selecting surveys are merely clickbait, for entertainment purposes only, and should not even be labeled polls. He says there often are no controls over who can respond or how many times they can answer the questions, unlike scientific surveys that have representative groups and random selection with a defined margin of error.

“The difference is good poll vs. not good poll,” says Koczela, who has been tracking the presidential race in Massachusetts and New Hampshire as well as other races and ballot questions for WBUR. “They’re something that shouldn’t really be called a poll…They should be called PINOs – Polls in Name Only or something else entirely.”

To make sense of all the numbers, Johnson and Koczela joined The Codcast to talk about the shifting dynamics and help sort out what’s real and what’s not in the numbers behind this year’s elections.



Legislative leaders urged Gov. Charlie Baker to delay mid-year budget cuts, and Baker has responded by pursuing what are being called alternative measures. (State House News)

US prosecutors say former House speaker Sal DiMasi’s health appears to be worsening in prison. (Boston Globe)


It’s not even Halloween and already there’s snow in western Massachusetts. (Berkshire Eagle)

The unemployment rate in Holyoke falls to its lowest level in 15 years. “Holyoke is rising,” says Mayor Alex Morse. The Holyoke rate in September was 5.3 percent, 2 points above the statewide rate. (Masslive)

Talk of a $100 million remake of City Hall and its surrounding plaza is raising concerns about Mayor Marty Walsh’s spending priorities. (Boston Herald)

A Harvard study rated the noise levels in Boston neighborhoods and found Dorchester to be the loudest from everyday sounds. (Dorchester Reporter)

Easton officials have failed to file zoning and bylaw changes with the state since 2008 as required by law, meaning many decisions including where medical marijuana facilities can be sited may be unenforceable. (The Enterprise)

Lowell expects to save nearly $6 million by eliminating a sick-leave buyback provision for city employees. (Lowell Sun)

Greenfield gets a $7.5 million state grant to build a parking garage downtown. (Masslive)

It looks like attempts to find a negotiated resolution to the standoff over an Islamic cemetery in Dudley aren’t working, so the case is probably headed for court. (Telegram & Gazette)

Framingham Town Meeting members affirmed their vote to seek a home rule petition to reduce the size of the body by 25 percent, from 216 to 162, to foster competition and become more active. (MetroWest Daily News)


A lawyer accuses Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas of grabbing her butt in 1999. The judge calls the claim “preposterous.” (New York Times)

The defendants who forcibly occupied the Oregon wildlife refuge are found not guilty even though the facts suggested they were guilty. (NPR)


Bernie Sanders says the hard work really starts once Hillary Clinton is elected. (Boston Globe) Politico says Vice President Joe Biden is at the top of Clinton’s list for secretary of state.

The New York Times endorses New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan in the US Senate race against Sen. Kelly Ayotte. The Lowell Sun endorses Ayotte.

The Democratic National Committee has filed a formal legal complaint accusing the Republican National Committee of working with Donald Trump in suppressing minority turnout through voter intimidation. (U.S. News & World Report)

A plane carrying GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence skidded off a runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. (New York Times)

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson tried to change the subject to his support for legalizing marijuana and blew up at a reporter pressing him on his tax plan. (Business Insider)

The marijuana legalization ballot question appears to be on a winning track, while the charter school expansion question is neck and neck, according to a new Suffolk University poll. (Boston Globe) Language inside the ballot question legalizing marijuana says a parent’s use of pot should not be used as the primary basis for taking away custody of his or her children. (Boston Globe) Shirley Leung joins the “just say no crowd”. (Boston Globe) Boston Public Radio’s Margery Eagan says vote yes despite the anti-pot hysteria.

Former US Education Secretary Arne Duncan calls charter schools part of the Massachusetts solution. (CommonWealth) The Globe backs Q2.

The number of registered voters is up in central Massachusetts — 1 percent in Worcester and 10 percent in Fitchburg. (Telegram & Gazette)

Write-in votes are a wasted vote of conscience, particularly in Massachusetts. (CommonWealth)


The managers of the Harvard University endowment essentially set their own benchmark goals, which helps explain why they racked up huge commissions while the fund itself lagged. (Bloomberg)

Testing showed elevated levels of lead above acceptable limits in drinking water at two Framingham elementary schools and officials plan to test the water at the district’s remaining schools. (MetroWest Daily News)


Vermont prepares to launch an all-payer accountable care organization in January. (Modern Healthcare)


The smoke out on the Orange Line earlier this week has prompted some Democrats to push for a tax hike to fund repairs on the MBTA. (WGBH) Boston Mayor Marty Walsh is leading the charge. (Boston Globe)

The MBTA pension fund is struggling. (Boston Herald)

All-electronic tolling on the Turnpike has finally arrived. It could be a bumpy ride at first. (Boston Globe)

An Oak Bluffs rental dealer has offered to take 40 of his mopeds off Martha’s Vineyard roads after years of pressure by residents to reduce the number of the motorized bikes because of mounting accidents. (Cape Cod Times)


For the first time since August, one part of the state — Nantucket — has been removed from the list of drought-affected areas because of the recent rains, though the rest of the state remains under severe or moderate drought conditions or abnormally dry. (State House News Service)


Harvard Law professor and constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe talks about the Supreme Court post-election and says an eight-member court “cannot be allowed to become the new norm.” (Greater Boston)