Scott W. Rasmussen (born March 30, 1956) is an American political analyst and digital media entrepreneur. He is the president of Styrk.com, a digital media company he founded in 2014. Rasmussen is a New York Times bestselling author, speaker, and former public opinion pollster. Rasmussen's political commentary is distributed through a nationally syndicated weekly newspaper column.
He is the founder and former president of Rasmussen Reports. In July 2013, Rasmussen left his post at Rasmussen Reports. He subsequently founded Rasmussen Media Group. In 2014, Rasmussen launched Styrk.com, a digital news service. Earlier in his professional life, Rasmussen co-founded the sports network ESPN.
Early life and career
Rasmussen was born on Eglin Air Force Base near Valparaiso, Florida to Lois Ann and Bill Rasmussen. From an early age, Rasmussen was exposed to the broadcasting business through his father, who had worked for radio stations and was a communications director for the New England Whalers ice hockey team. With the help of his father, Rasmussen taped his first radio commercial at the age of seven. Rasmussen grew up spending summers in Ocean Grove, New Jersey with his grandparents. He got his first job at age 14 as an umbrella boy. He later served as an announcer for the New England Whalers of the World Hockey Association. During that time he was emcee for hockey legend Gordie Howe's 50th birthday celebration in 1978, which Rasmussen cites as a career highlight: "nothing in my professional career will ever equal the thrill...". In 1979, Scott and Bill Rasmussen founded ESPN, the cable sports network. Their stake in ESPN was bought out by Texaco in 1984. They went on to found the Enterprise Radio Network. Rasmussen and his father later had a falling out over what Rasmussen called unspecified "differences."
Speaking about his political views, Rasmussen said, "I was brought up loosely as a Republican, but at our family dinner table we talked about the important politics of the New York Giants and the New York Yankees. There was no political discussion in my life growing up. I became a Democrat after Richard Nixon and into the Jimmy Carter era and have been an Independent ever since. I spoke today about how the American people were skeptical about politicians—well, I’m more skeptical. I really do see the core issue as the political class versus mainstream voters. I think that is a much bigger gap than Republican, Democrat, conservative, or liberal."
Rasmussen graduated from Minnechaug Regional High School in 1974 and was goaltender for the high school hockey team. He started college at the University of Connecticut, and took a class with pollster Everett Ladd. Rasmussen went on to earn a bachelor's degree in history at his father's alma mater, DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, graduating in 1986, and later an executive MBA from the Babcock Graduate School of Management at Wake Forest University.
Public opinion polling
Rasmussen first became known for his public opinion polling work. In the 1990s, he volunteered as a pollster for friends who were attempting to impose congressional term limits. In 1995, he founded a polling company called GrassRoots Research. In 1999, after changing the name to Rasmussen Research, the company was bought by TownPagesNet.com for about $4.5 million in ordinary shares.
Rasmussen is the former president of Rasmussen Reports, LLC (a separate company that he founded in 2003). Rasmussen Reports generates a daily cycle of news reports based on original survey results. The results track the political world, current events, consumer confidence and business topics. The company is one of only two firms providing daily tracking updates of the president’s job approval ratings and consumer confidence.
Rasmussen's polls are notable for their use of automated public opinion polling, involving pre-recorded telephone inquiries. These types of polls have been shown to produce accurate results at low cost, but some have doubted their reliability.
The Washington Post referred to Rasmussen as "a driving force in American politics" and "an articulate and frequent guest on Fox News and other outlets, where his nominally nonpartisan data is often cited to support Republican talking points." In the Wall Street Journal, political journalist John Fund called him "America’s insurgent pollster”.
Law professor Susan Estrich has said, “If you really want to know what people in America think, you can't find a smarter guy to ask than Scott Rasmussen."
Rasmussen has described himself as "an independent pollster" who "[l]ike the company he started, [...] maintains his independence and has never been a campaign pollster or consultant for candidates seeking office." Speaking about the use of his polling data by Republicans, in 2009 Rasmussen said, “Republicans right now are citing our polls more than Democrats because it’s in their interest to do so. I would not consider myself a political conservative — that implies an alignment with Washington politics that I don’t think I have.”
In 2010, some Democrats criticized Rasmussen's polling methodology. Democratic pollster Mark Mellman said Rasmussen Reports polls "tend to be among the worst polls for Democrats." Tom Jensen, a pollster for Democratic firm Public Policy Polling said: "The way [Rasmussen] does polls is that he’s more likely to get high-energy voters. I think Rasmussen favors Republicans this year, but I don’t think he inherently favors Republicans.”
Departure from Rasmussen Reports
In July 2013, Rasmussen left his position as president of Rasmussen Reports. In a press release from Rasmussen Reports, the company confirmed Rasmussen's departure and said, "In part, the move reflects disagreements over company business strategies. ... The Company emphasized that Mr. Rasmussen's legacy remains intact. His polling methodologies and protocols, widely acknowledged as among the most accurate and reliable in the industry, continue to guide and inform the company’s public opinion survey techniques. In addition, the editorial culture of excellence that he built is still very much in place."
After his departure, Scott Rasmussen announced the creation of Rasmussen Media Group, to "develop and invest in digital media opportunities." Rasmussen Media Group said that the "new venture reflects a transition from Rasmussen's role as a scorekeeper in the nation's political dialogue to becoming a more active participant," especially in critiquing "crony capitalism and the unholy alliance between big government and big business."
Rasmussen wrote a column about the changing landscape of the polling industry, writing, "New technology will fundamentally alter the ways that polls are conducted. Other online techniques will replace polling entirely in some situations. These shifts will be good for everyone except those who defend the status quo."
Rasmussen writes a weekly syndicated newspaper column through Creators Syndicate and gives daily syndicated news updates through WOR Radio Network. From September 2012 through July 2013, he hosted a syndicated television show called What America Thinks With Scott Rasmussen with WCBS-TV as the New York station.
Rasmussen has appeared as a guest analyst on local and national broadcast news outlets across America and internationally, including the Fox News Channel, the BBC, CNN, Bloomberg, CNBC and NPR. In 2010 he made an appearance on Comedy Central's The Colbert Report. Rasmussen’s polls are frequently quoted by media sources and political figures and have received mentions on entertainment shows such as The Tonight Show. He is also regularly quoted in print and online publications, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times.
Rasmussen is a professional speaker, traveling the country to discuss public opinion on politics, business and lifestyle issues. In February 2013, Rasmussen delivered an address entitled "Sweeping Change is Coming to America" at his alma mater, DePauw University, as part of the school's 175th Anniversary Distinguished Alumni Lecture Series.
In September 2013, Rasmussen spoke at Yale University where he called the national political discourse surrounding the Republican Party’s failed 2012 campaign “irrelevant and a total waste of time.” He said, "I believe all the obsession about candidates and tactics is pretty misguided. [A candidate has] to have a compelling message...that is uplifting and positive and consistent,” and also, "A one-size-fits-all government cannot survive in an iPad era." Speaking about leaving Rasmussen Reports, he said "I have a bigger vision of what I’d like to be doing. I’d like to be involved in actually empowering public opinion rather than just reporting on what’s been happening.”
In April 2014, Rasmussen spoke to a group of Bryan College benefactors. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Rasmussen said "If we want to solve our country's problems, we should look to each other, not to the nation's capital," and noted that "Though there are 535 reasons in Congress to be pessimistic...there are 65 million reasons to be optimistic – the number of people who volunteer their time across the country." In a related column, Rasmussen wrote that he was optimistic about the future of America because "All told, [volunteers] contributed just less than 8 billion hours last year, time worth an estimated $175 billion dollars."
In 2015, Rasmussen wrote that he views himself as significantly more pessimistic about the American political system than most Americans, but that he is highly optimistic about the future of the country. He also opined that all levels of American government are losing the legitimacy they need to function, and that winning political office is different than gaining legitimacy.
In his 2010 book titled In Search of Self-Governance, Rasmussen wrote: “Americans don’t want to be governed from the left, the right, or the center. They want to govern themselves." Rasmussen makes a case that America's "historic commitment to self-governance is under assault by a governing clique revolving around Washington, D.C. and Wall Street" and argues that "unfortunately, even after more than 200 years of success, there is an urgent need to defend this most basic of American values."
In 2010, Rasmussen co-authored a book on the Tea Party movement with pollster Douglas Schoen, Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System, published by HarperCollins. The bailouts of big banks in 2008–09 by the Bush and Obama administrations triggered the Tea Party’s rise, said Rasmussen in September 2010. He added that the movement's anger centers on two issues, "They think federal spending, deficits and taxes are too high, and they think no one in Washington is listening to them, and that latter point is really, really important." In the book, Rasmussen and Schoen argue for a three-step proposal that they call "the last hope" for politicians to regain trust.
Rasmussen's 2012 book, "The People's Money: How Voters Will Balance the Budget and Eliminate the Federal Debt," argues that "America's Political Class Wants to govern like it's 1775, a time when kings were kings and consent of the governed didn't matter." Through polling data, he searches to demonstrate that the federal government today does not have the consent of the governed. The book reached number 17 on the New York Times Bestseller List in March 2012.
Rasmussen is the author of a weekly syndicated newspaper column through Creators Syndicate. Rasmussen's columns incorporate public opinion polling data and public policy issues. Columns have warned against the "new elites" who are using the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, and supported ending crony capitalism by "busting up the big banks."
Rasmussen and Schoen have collaborated on several opinion editorials, including One Nation Under Revolt, Why Obama Can't Move the Health Care Numbers, The Last Hope for Democrats and Republicans to Regain Trust, and Obama Is Losing Independent Voters. They also noted the decline in the president's approval ratings in Obama's Poll Numbers Are Falling to Earth.
Rasmussen has independently authored several Wall Street Journal columns, including a piece on how Obama won the White House by campaigning like Ronald Reagan and an overview of the healthcare reform debate.
His work has appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, Investor's Business Daily, the Christian Science Monitor and other major publications.
Rasmussen was a weekly columnist for conservative news web site World Net Daily in 2000 and 2001. In some of these columns, as well as in a 2001 book titled "A Better Deal! Social Security Choice" and a presentation at the Cato Institute, Rasmussen advocated privatization of the Social Security program.
In April 2012, WOR Radio Network began syndicating three different one-minute daily news updates by Rasmussen.
In September 2012, Rasmussen began hosting a nationally syndicated television program called What America Thinks With Scott Rasmussen. On the show, Rasmussen interviewed Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin. An episode of the show, titled What New Hampshire Thinks, won a 2012 Granite Mike Award from the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters.
In 2014, Rasmussen launched Styrk.com, a digital news service which functions as a multi-channel news platform and social network. Former Miss America Kirsten Haglund serves as Styrk.com's lead anchor. Styrk.com's tagline is "news in the language of everyday Americans."
Rasmussen lives in Ocean Grove, New Jersey with his wife Laura. From 2006–2011, Rasmussen served as volunteer president of the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association (OGCMA), "a ministry organization whose mission is to provide opportunities for spiritual birth, growth, and renewal in a Christian seaside setting." OGCMA is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.