DENVER — Public Policy Polling came under fire Wednesday after the firm admitted that it withheld a poll from the public last week that showed Colorado state Sen. Angela Giron losing her recall election by double digits.
“We are getting an awful lot of abuse about not releasing our poll on the Angela Giron recall before the recall election,” said PPP pollster Tom Jensen in his second website post Wednesday.
The Democrat Giron lost Tuesday by a margin of 56 to 44 percent in her heavily Democratic Pueblo district, which President Barack Obama won in 2012 by nearly 20 points, in a recall election driven by the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s gun-control agenda.
Mr. Jensen said his firm conducted a poll last weekend in the district and found that voters favored recalling Ms. Giron by a margin of 54 to 42.
“I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll,” said Mr. Jensen in his first post Wednesday. “It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers because she was indeed recalled by 12 points.”
Gun-rights advocates accused the polling firm, often described as Democrat-leaning, of burying the poll in order to boost Ms. Giron’s chances. The website Complete Colorado blasted the decision of the North Carolina-based company in a headline on its website.
“PPP Reveals It Suppressed Accurate Giron Poll,” said the headline.
Statistician Nate Silver, who heads FiveThirtyEight, also criticized the decision. “VERY bad and unscientific practice for @ppppolls to suppress a polling result they didn’t believe/didn’t like,” he said in a tweet.
Ms. Giron’s defeat stunned state and national analysts, given her presumably safe district and the enormous spending differential between her well-funded campaign and the cash-poor grass roots recall effort run against her by three Pueblo plumbers.
Mr. Jensen said the results showed that 33 percent of Democrats in the Pueblo district backed the recall, which led him to believe that voters didn’t understand the question.
“It might be normal for Democrats in Kentucky or West Virginia to abandon their party in those kinds of numbers, but that doesn’t happen in Colorado or in most of the rest of the country,” said Mr. Jensen. “That finding made me think that respondents may not have understood what they were being asked, so I decided to hold onto it. I would have done the same thing if we’d found 33% of Republicans saying they opposed the recall.”
Ms. Giron and Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs were ousted from office in Tuesday’s election, the first legislative recall in state history, even though their supporters outspent recallers by a margin of nearly 7 to 1.
The recalls were spurred by the Legislature’s passage of three gun-control bills in March. State Democrats said the bills were needed to prevent tragedies like the two mass shootings in 2012, including the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo., that left 12 dead.
But the bills touched off an outcry among firearms owners and gun-rights supporters, who said the bills did nothing to increase public safety. A group of 55 county sheriffs filed a lawsuit against one of the bills earlier this year.