VALIDITY OF NUMBERS IN BRIDGEPORT POLL QUESTIONED

A new poll that purports to show Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz leading Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy in the race for the Democratic nomination for governor is flawed according to a national polling expert. The company that conducted the poll claims it surveyed 350 Bridgeport Democrats and has a margin error of plus or minus three percent. But the experts contacted by The Hanging Shad say unequivocally that’s impossible.

The survey, commissioned by Bridgeport political fixture and author Leonard Grimaldi’s “Only in Bridgeport” web magazine and conducted by Connecticut-based Merriman River Associates also claims to show state Rep. Christopher Caruso in a statistical dead heat in a potential rematch with Mayor Bill Finch. Finch isn’t up for election until 2011.

The Merriman survey www.merrimanriver.com shows Finch trailing Caruso by roughly three percentage points with former Mayor John Fabrizi running just four points behind Finch. Both those numbers fall within the poll’s margin of error of three percent, according to Matt Fitch who supervised the poll.

But Dr. Jeffrey Stone-Cash, a political science professor and noted polling expert from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship, says there’s no way that could be. The HS asked Dr. Stone-Cash today if a three percent margin of error is possible with a sample of 350 people. “No. No way. Impossible. Something’s definitely wrong there. It would take about a thousand people to get that margin of error.” Dr. Stone-Cash says such a flaw could raise questions about the poll in general.

The poll claims to have asked voters about Finch head-to-head matchups with Caruso, Fabrizi, former Mayor Joe Ganim, retired Judge Carmen Lopez, Probate Judge Paul Ganim and State Rep. Andres Ayala.
Caruso beats Finch 40.19-percent to 36.71-percent. Finch beats Fabrizi 40.19-percent to 35.76-percent. Measured against Joe Ganim, Finch secures 46.52 percent of the vote against 33.86 percent for that former mayor. Ganim is in jail on corruption charges. Fabrizi did not run in 2007 after admitting drug use while mayor. Finch does better against Lopez, Paul Ganim and Ayala.

The poll also asked about a Bysiewicz-Malloy match-up. Bysiewicz get 31.44-percent to Malloy’s 14.56 percent. Malloy lost a close gubernatorial primary to New Haven Mayor John DeStefano in 2006.

All of this, however, is questionable due to the problems with the margin of error. The survey’s credibility is now, at very least, in doubt.