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Are robo-polls as good as live-interviewer polls? Maybe! Some people have even suggested they’re better.

But wait. Gary Langer reports on an academic study of robo-polls during last year’s Republican primary that finds something strange: if the robo-polls are done after human polls have been done, they’re just as good as the human polls. But if they’re done in states where no human polls were done—that’s the red oval in the chart below—they do significantly worse.

So what’s going on? The researchers make two suggestions. First, the poor results in the red oval are based on a small number of polls in just five states, so “it’s possible that what’s going on is something goofy in those five states.” Alternatively, the folks doing the robo-polls might be massaging their results. The researchers say their analysis “suggests, but certainly does not prove, that at least some IVR polls may use earlier human polls to adjust their results to ensure that they are not notably different from existing polls and beliefs.”

The full paper is here. Stay tuned for further research.

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THE FACTS SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES.

At least we hope they will, because that’s our approach to raising the $350,000 in online donations we need right now—during our high-stakes December fundraising push.

It’s the most important month of the year for our fundraising, with upward of 15 percent of our annual online total coming in during the final week—and there’s a lot to say about why Mother Jones’ journalism, and thus hitting that big number, matters tremendously right now.

But you told us fundraising is annoying—with the gimmicks, overwrought tone, manipulative language, and sheer volume of urgent URGENT URGENT!!! content we’re all bombarded with. It sure can be.

So we’re going to try making this as un-annoying as possible. In “Let the Facts Speak for Themselves” we give it our best shot, answering three questions that most any fundraising should try to speak to: Why us, why now, why does it matter?

The upshot? Mother Jones does journalism you don’t find elsewhere: in-depth, time-intensive, ahead-of-the-curve reporting on underreported beats. We operate on razor-thin margins in an unfathomably hard news business, and can’t afford to come up short on these online goals. And given everything, reporting like ours is vital right now.

If you can afford to part with a few bucks, please support the reporting you get from Mother Jones with a much-needed year-end donation. And please do it now, while you’re thinking about it—with fewer people paying attention to the news like you are, we need everyone with us to get there.

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