A quick update on last night's Republican Senate primary in Rhode Island. Incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee defeated challenger Stephen Laffey by an eight percentage point margin (53.6% to 46.4%). So in the battle of the polls -- described in my post on Monday -- Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies (POS) came far closer to the final result than the poll conducted by the Bureau of Government Research at Rhode Island College (RIC). The POS poll conducted two weeks ago had Chafee ahead by fourteen points (53% to 39%). The RIC poll done at exactly the same time had Chafee seventeen points down (34% to 51%). Given the wide difference, it seems obvious that polls for this particular race were sensitive to the way the pollsters defined likely voters.
Since Public Opinion Strategies has given away little about the methods they used to conduct their survey, this episode can teach us little beyond underscoring how challenging political polling can be in primary elections.