Scott Rasmussen no longer works for the polling company that he founded, Rasmussen Reports said in a statement on Thursday. No longer content with putting out polls that critics like Nate Silver have analyzed as consistently right-leaning, Scott Rasmussen will move into Republican punditry at his new Rasmussen Media Group. That means that the man whose polls were once used to support conservative punditry will now do the punditry himself.
The Rasmussen Reports company release cites "disagreements over company business strategies" in its reasoning for the departure. There are some hints as to what those disagreements were, as the release cites a desire to "expand the business beyond the fields of politics and public affairs," though the statement does signal a continuance of their "polling methodologies and protocols, widely acknowledged as among the most accurate and reliable in the industry."
But while the polling company might move away from politics, Scott Rasmussen will dive in deeper as he positions himself as a Republican commentator in his new media group. "This new venture reflects a transition from Rasmussen's role as a scorekeeper in the nation's political dialogue to becoming a more active participant," reads the new group's statement.
Rasmussen has long claimed to be an independent. But he wrote a book on self-governance, popular among conservatives, and was a guest on a cruise sponsored by The National Review. In 2010, Jonathan Chait called Rasmussen "a right-wing celebrity" in The New Republic. FiveThirtyEight blogger and statistics star Nate Silver found Rasmussen's polls erred in favor of Republicans both in 2010 and in the presidential election of 2012 (Silver's chart at right). Getting a different result than everybody else doesn't necessarily mean a pollster is wrong. But in 2012, Silver found Rasmussen was the third-least accurate of the 23 polls examined.
Rasmussen's polls were sometimes valuable to conservative pundits, who could point to them as hard evidence that a bit of conventional wisdom favoring liberals was wrong — that, for example, despite most polls to the contrary, Romney was really winning. ("Final Gallup, Rasmussen Polls: Romney 49, Obama 48," the conservative site Townhall said November 5. Or, "Rasmussen: Wisconsin tied, Romney up 1 in Iowa," the conservative blog Hot Air said November 1. Obama won Wisconsin by 7 points, Iowa by 5.) But accuracy won't matter much in punditry — as Silver has argued, pundits are "completely useless" — so Rasmussen should be on solid ground there.