Analyzing the latest poll from St. Leo Univ. showing Charlie Crist up three – Take it with a full shaker of salt

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First, do not read the release sent out by St. Leo University’s Polling Institute as it was wrong and stated that the poll was conducted in late September and early October.  The current poll, according to a now-posted re-release, is comprised of 500 likely voters and was taken 10/16-10/19.

Attention to details aside, one has to seriously wonder about an analysis that includes the cutting-edge assessment that, “we won’t see a big swing in the partisan composition of the state legislature after the election.”

Was that really necessary? Can you really tell anything about how lawmakers Mike Clelland, Dwight Dudley, Carl Zimmerman, Linda Stewart, Mark Danish, Karen Castor-Dental, or Maria Sachs will do from a statewide poll? Was there ever a chance that the Democrats would take over the House or Senate or increase enough seats to alter the balance of power? At this stage, it’s so remarkably canned and pedestrian, one has to wonder if the authors are paying more than just a passing glance worth of attention to what is happening in our state.

Back to the poll…

We don’t know the party makeup of the poll, nor do we know if this question was even asked. St. Leo’s claims the poll was balanced according to age and ethnicity, but there is no indication that it was or was not balanced by party.

But that’s not what earns it a full shaker’s worth of salt.

St. Leo pays people to take their online polls and then they combine it with robo-polling.

We’ve covered this ground before and have explained why paying people to take a poll is generally a bad idea and why blended samples can be problematic. Both are a risky use of technology and are wrought with all sorts of problems, especially if you are not the kind of folks who pay attention to details.

Verdict: Take this poll with a full shaker of salt.

What is the SPB Salt Shaker Scale? It’s our new measurement guide to reading polls. These are the ratings:

  • A full shaker: There are enough problems with the methodology to warrant serious concerns.
  • A few grains: There are some concerns with how this poll was conducted and/or with the Demographic make-up to raise some issues.
  • A single grain: There are only a few concerns with how the poll was conducted.
  • No salt needed: Solid pollster, solid methodology and the numbers look balanced.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.