Today, GlossyNews.com has the unique opportunity to present an interview with Dean Chambers from UnskewedPolls.com. And yes, this is a real interview.
For the sake of proof we asked Dean to provide a photo of himself, and what you see here is real. This is really him. And no, we didn’t Photoshop it except to make it fit for width.
RIGHT: Dean Chambers was kind enough to send us a previously un-published photograph of himself, conveniently wearing a tin foil hat. (CLICK PHOTO TO ENLARGE)
The interview was fairly long, and what is published is heavily edited for length, but it has everything. Yes, we ask if he lives in his mom’s basement. Yes, we ask if he is, in fact, a potato. It’s all here.
GlossyNews.com: I’m talking with Dean Chambers, founder, owner and CEO of the famous election web tracker site UnSkewedPolls.com. First of all, how are you doing? How are you feeling?
Dean Chambers: Good, how are you?
GlossyNews.com: Well you know I’m good. You know I only had 62 articles to edit on election day so I should be doing good, right?
Dean Chambers: Yeah, I would say so. That’s more than I edited.
GlossyNews.com: So I’d like to point out that I gave you the opportunity to review my interview questions in advance, and you declined. You also were given the opportunity to give me some softballs to throw you, and you declined that as well. Further, I asked if there was anything you wanted me to promote and you didn’t say anything, so what, are you the strong silent type or do you just love getting thrown into the lion’s den?
Dean Chambers: Well, I’m not sure I’d put it that way. You have my website address and I also have the [your] website address and some people are starting to talk about it today.
GlossyNews.com: The election has settled down in the dust, it’s all in the past. Compared to say, I don’t know, last October, are you still getting as much love mail and hate mail or neither?
Dean Chambers: No, not as much in general. The amount of correspondence is down but I still get a few here and there and I still have people visiting the website every day and I don’t know if they’re coming back to see if there’s if there’s anything more personal on the website or if they’re just coming back to it reference or whether there’s been some, well there’s been some traffic.
GlossyNews.com: Your site’s premise was based on an over-sampling of Democrats. What led you to the conclusion that Democrats were being over-sampled?
Dean Chambers: Well the simple conclusion that I came to was I thought the actual turnout in the election would look more like 2010 than 2008 based on just what we’re seeing out there, the levels of enthusiasm and even the polls themselves when they ask questions about who was paying more attention to the election and who was following it more closely, more enthusiastic about it, the percentages when they questioned among the people, who were more sure who they were going to vote for either they’re voting for Romney or Obama, the Romney supporters were more sure. A higher percentage of them say they definitely weren’t changing their mind.
GlossyNews.com: The majority of polls asked for party identification, and they responded proportionately. Did this not sway you?
Dean Chambers: Well there was a 6% margin. The voter turnout was different that a lot of people who did get in and expect it would be. And that made all the difference because even the modeling I did in one of my articles, I said if it was 4-4.5% in favor of the Democrats, that’s what it would take for Obama to get elected.
And if you told me two nights before the election that it would have been +6 in favor of the Democrats, I would have gone back to that model and looked at those numbers and said yeah, as much as I don’t believe it, the numbers say Obama is going to be re-elected and I would have predicted that Obama would be re-elected and even though I might not have even believed my own prediction. If you told me it was going to be +6% in favor of Democrats. Which I just didn’t see that coming, and a lot of other people didn’t see that coming. A lot of people that have more experience in the political business than I do didn’t see that coming.
GlossyNews.com: Your numbers skewed far to the right of even Rasmussen and Gallup, did that concern you?
Dean Chambers: Which numbers are you referring to when you say that?
GlossyNews.com: I’m looking at, for example, the map you put out on November 1st which showed an overwhelming landslide for Romney including Oregon being picked up.
Dean Chambers: That was over-optimistic and I sensed that the election was getting much closer over the weekend and by the time I made my final prediction on Monday night I had moved Romney back to only 275 electoral votes. That included winning Colorado which I almost which I almost said was going to go for Obama. And if I had said that Colorado had gone for Obama after I already switched New Hampshire to Obama then Romney would have been below 270 electoral votes. And that’s just what I was sensing what was going on as of Monday night.
GlossyNews.com: When you saw early criticisms of your methodology, such as the fact that many Republicans switched their party identification to Independent following the last election, did you consider adjusting your model?
Dean Chambers: Well, yes and I’m still in the process of re-assessing that model and what I need to do is figure out a way to rate the data by other factors to find a way of better predicting what the makeup of Democrats, Republicans and Independents really is, because that was a source of my error in that modeling.
GlossyNews.com: Scott Rasmussen himself went on the record saying that using his party identification metrics to weight the polls from other firms was unsound. Did this effect your modeling?
Dean Chambers: I don’t disagree with what he said. For the purposes of doing surveying and polling and measuring public opinion I think he’s right on what he said, but unskewing was just a tool it was just a “what would it look like if the partisan makeup was different”. It was just an indication. In that sense it’s no more valid to do the averages of the polls either because if you average five different polls together and then say that they indicate this.
A lot of people like polling averages like the do at Real Clear Politics but you know that has the same flaw that unskewing does because again your taking data from one poll versus another poll and kind of mixing and comparing them. I would imagine you’d say the same thing about that. Now what does interest me and this caused me late in the process to begin to question some of [Rasmussen’s] numbers and polling.
Someone forwarded me an article from the Washington Examiner where Byron York interviewed Scott Rasmussen and he said in that article that his own sample was 39% democrats and 36% republicans but yet his survery was putting out this information that the electorate was made up of like 37.6% republicans, 33-point-something democrats. So his own survey results were, if we was putting out what he was counting and saying that it’s +4% republicans, but yet in his daily tracking poll he said that that sample was 39% democrats and 36%republican so he wasn’t even weighting his own surveys by his own data. So it was not only a valid criticism for me or anyone else to weight someone else’s survey by his data. He wasn’t even doing it on his own.
GlossyNews.com: What polls came in between November 1st and November 5th that would swing your model by 100 electoral votes? That map on the 1st was really red. Oregon went almost 12-points to Obama, but five days earlier you had it red. That’s well outside the margin of error.
Dean Chambers: Keep in mind the national polls moved almost that much. Gallup went from Romney +7 to Romney +1 during that period of time. That’s one of the factors I had to take into consideration. My own survey had gone down to something like Romney leading by 1.5%.
Here’s the thing, my own survey that modeled on the turnout assumptions I was working with had Romney down to 1.5% so even in my surveys, despite the error in methodologies, showed the race was getting closer, and guess what I did, I actually wrote an article about it after the election, I unskewed my own survey using the partisan makeup from the exit polls and guess what happened when I unskewed my own survey? It said Obama 51% to 48%. Same data from my survey but just unskewing it.
I wrote the article just like I was unskeweing someone else’s poll. You can find that in the archives, I wrote that, I think one or two days after the election. When I unskewed my own last QStarNews survey poll using the 38/32% data from the exit polls, it said Obama 51, Romney 48. So if I had a better way of measuring partisan makeup of the electorate and had been able to employ that before the election, that means that is, that’s what I would have predicted.
If I put 51%/48% in favor of Obama in my model then a few more of those red states would have turned to blue and I would have been closer to the actual election results. So the part of the modeling that I have to figure out going forward is to come up with a better way to measure the polling data I collect and what the partisan makeup of the electorate is and then I think the results will be more accurate.
GlossyNews.com: Armchair critics posting anonymously in blog comments have said that you live in your mom’s basement, eat Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew all day, and have never had a girlfriend. What would you like to say to them?
Dean Chambers: Repeat that again please?
GlossyNews.com: Armchair critics posting anonymously in blog comments have said that you live in your mom’s basement, eat Cheetos and drink Mountain Dew all day, and have never had a girlfriend. What would you like to say to those dirty bastards?
Dean Chambers: Well for the record, and this is actually true, my mother lives in Massachusetts and I live in Virginia, so. I think I’d have a pretty hard time living in her basement since I’m 500-600 miles away. And what was the second part of that?
GlossyNews.com: That you’ve never had a girlfriend.
Dean Chambers: I’ve had a couple, but not that many, but they want to throw that around as an insult. Usually people who accuse things like that themselves haven’t had a girlfriend. It’s like the people quickest to accuse you of cheating are usually the ones cheating. And what was the other part of it? I live in my mom’s basement and what?
GlossyNews.com: Cheetos and Mountain Dew.
Dean Chambers: Oh, Cheetos and Mountain Dew. Diet Mountain Dew I do, but I rarely eat any Cheetos.
GlossyNews.com: Before much was known about you there was discussion as to whether you were sincere, if you were trolling the conservative right, or maybe you were just fleecing those wishing for a Romney election. Clearly you were sincere, so how much money did you make off of your site during the 2012 election cycle?
Dean Chambers: … Well… I made more money than I was making as of last summer, but you know some of what I made was not necessarily directly related to the UnskewedPolls website. And you know I was gathering a pretty good audience for my articles on Examiner.com before I created the UnskewedPolls website. It’s kind of unclear, it’s not like I calculated a figure myself and said ‘okay, the UnskewedPolls website has made this much’. You know I haven’t calculated it.
I think the key to remember with this is that the people that read the articles and come to the website, I’ve heard a few people suggest that “you know he must be making good money off this, profiting off of gullible fools that go to these websites and whatever. The perception is that most of the people that visited UnskewedPolls.com were right-wingers that wanted to believe in the content of the website. Guess what? 80% of the audience for UnskewedPolls came from the left. Because they thought this site was ridiculous, they thought it was funny, they showed it to all their friends and they posted it on all their blog sites. They posted it on Daily Kos and Democratic Underground and all these places.
The day that I wrote the article about Nate Silver, he Tweeted it twice to his Twitter audience of like 285,000 and that article got like 60,000 reads. Some figure comparable on the right side of the political spectrum, they Tweet my article out, yeah I might get 10,000 – 15,000 reads. It’s nice to get but the political left seems to be a bit more organized on the internet, they seem to make better use of social networking sites. There’s a lot of sites like Democratic Underground and Daily Kos as opposed to some people on the right who like to hang out at Free Republic and a couple other sites. You don’t get as large of an audience and they’re not as effective. The bulk of the audience actually came from the left and not the right, believe it or not. That’s one thing that surprised me even when I did a little bit of studying of my web stats and other factors to see where the traffic was coming from.
GlossyNews.com: Is there anything else you’d like to say to your many fans, many critics and many curious onlookers following the results of the 2012 elections?
Dean Chambers: What I would like to say to them, and this is especially to a lot of folks on the left, they’re not very good at taking criticism and they don’t seem to have a very good sense of humor. And anything related to politics, and especially the president, people had no sense of humor at all.
Even the people that might have thought that I was some kind of spoof or something, which I wasn’t, there was equally outrageous claims that the idea maybe I was sincere and taking myself seriously. Someone Tweeted out about a week after the Unskewed Polls site went up, they Tweeted and they joked around saying that I got up one morning, looked outside, and seeing that it was raining, and that I “unskewed the weather” and therefor said it was going to be sunny. I actually thought it was funny when I saw that. I’m not unskewing the weather forecast, that’s just funny. People on the left are such fanatics they wouldn’t dare find any humor in if I made fun of what they believe in.
GlossyNews.com: So my research shows that you’re a blogger and a news man. Would you like to put in a plug real quick for any of the places your work shows?
Dean Chambers: [the tape stopped recording for about two minutes, but he listed Examiner.com and Barakofraudo.com. The tape resumes…]
I am building a website which is a more long-term, serious website called ConservativeReform.com. It’s going to be, and the reforms are going to be, at least initially aimed at what the right-of-center side needs to do to change the way they go about things to win in the future and not lose as happened on November 6th of this year. As well it’s also going to discuss a variety of public policy issues like reforming government and so on. That website will be online probably in a few weeks.
GlossyNews.com: Would you like to be a regularly featured contributor on Glossy News?
Dean Chambers: Um… I’ll consider that, sure. I don’t know what kind of content you’d want submitted or not, but…
GlossyNews.com: So here’s a tricky question. What compelled you to come on GlossyNews.com. Sure we run our fair share of conservative stories, but we’re also monumental dicks, so what was you’re thinking?
Dean Chambers: I thought it would be a different experience than some of the other ones out there. I like the fact that you’re upfront about it. I was interviewed by, well I won’t say who, but she was just as sweet and polite and nice as could be and when the article was published, and I think it was one of these web-based publications. It wasn’t anything well regarded. I had a reporter from the Wall Street Journal interview me and he did a good job. I had a guy from the New York Times interview me and he was very professional and did a good job, and some other “mainstream media” outlets. But this was one of those fashionable online kinds of news, but it was obviously biased. It wasn’t like your site though.
The person was nice and polite as could be and then when she wrote the story it portrayed me as some wacko, right-wing nut-job just living out in the sticks. And it was totally biased. Most of the people that have interviewed me have been very professional and have been reasonably fair in what they wrote and put out and I looked at your site and I thought the content looked interesting and different and thought this could be interesting. No reason I shouldn’t try it.
GlossyNews.com: And the last question, and this is very serious, it comes to us from one of our readers, Are you in fact a potato?
Dean Chambers: Am I a potato?
Dean Chambers: [laughs] I went to school in the 70s and they used to show us these film strips that would preach the crap out of us. You are what you eat! I eat potatoes. I guess most of us are potatoes, where we do or do not look like Mr. Potatohead. Just about all of us eat carrots too and you know that just about everyone who has ever eaten carrots has died at some time in their lives.
GlossyNews.com: At this point I would technically conclude the interview, but if you want to give me some bonus questions, I’d love to give you some crazy ones.
Dean Chambers: Sure, go ahead.
GlossyNews.com: What’s so bad about Obama and liberalism?
Dean Chambers: It truly is a conflict of visions. For people to understand the conflict of visions I’d suggest they read a book by Thomas Sowell called “The Conflict of Visions”. I do think he’s probably the smartest man in the country as far as among those in the academic sector. Those that I consider to be mainstream conservatives, and there are extremists in both parties, we know that, support a vision where people are generally self-made and the economy is a free-market economy.
Rights are recognized at the individual level, not the community level. Freedom doesn’t come from group rights it comes from individual rights. We recognize very limited government protecting individual rights and national security, obviously. Limited government means lower taxes and more national freedom. The other side has a very different idea. The other side thinks that things like healthcare, Obama phones, food stamps, all of these things are right. They think that an individual has a right to a certain standard of living no matter what they do or don’t do, whether they succeed or fail in life. Or whether they make an effort to earn a certain amount of money or they don’t.
The problem with these rights, sometimes they call them positive rights in academia, someone else has to pay for them. And when someone else has to pay for them, the government collects the money to pay for these things. And how does the government get money? The government doesn’t produce money. There’s no more money if the government just prints it, that’s just counterfeiting. You know they call it monetary policy or quantitative easing, but it’s counterfeiting. The government doesn’t produce anything. The government doesn’t manufacture products. The government doesn’t turn a profit selling products and services that people need. The government has to get the money from someone else and they get it from you by quite literally putting a gun to your head and saying “sign this 1040 and pay us your money”.
GlossyNews.com: What about when the government gives mineral rights to companies. Does that count as the government producing money?
Dean Chambers: No that’s just the government assigning rights to something that the government didn’t own to start with.
GlossyNews.com: Real quick, on the Obama Phones, you know who created that program?
Dean Chambers: The program was started earlier on, but it was named, but there’s even a website ObamaPhones.net.
GlossyNews.com: Right, but that’s a private website. Created earlier on by whom? You know those are Reagan Phones, right?
Dean Chambers: I’ve heard that, and I heard he started that, but it’s been dramatically expanded. Obama didn’t create food stamps but he’s doubled the number of people that are on them. That’s really the issue.
There were actually a number of ‘bonus round’ questions that are not included above, for the sake of brevity. If you’d like a second installment from this interview, please indicate it in the comments. If there’s enough demand I’ll go back through the recordings and make a post of those as well. Don’t worry, it’s much shorter than this.