Direct from the horse's er...mouth:
“If I had to do it over, I probably wouldn’t have released this poll because it allows people … to try to taint all of our polls. If you do as many polls as we do, some of them are going to be bad...I will acknowledge that we ask questions with a bent on our monthly polling,” he says. “We’re trying to find out when politicians frame things in certain ways how they will be perceived by the general public.”
Translated: "When an elected Democrat makes a statement that can be taken out of context and twisted into sounding like something bad, we take advantage of that and put it in front of 600 people at a pop."
While De Luca stands by the overall accuracy of Civitas polls, Fitzsimon argues that even flawed surveys can influence an election.
“Poll results can actually influence the race by galvanizing supporters or discouraging a candidate’s base,” he wrote in response to the flash poll.
“They can take on a life of their own by shaping the conventional wisdom that becomes the dominant media narrative in a race.
“They can affect campaign contributions, as many people want to curry favor with a clear front-runner.”
They can also influence actual policy decisions, which is why Civitas does continual monthly polling even during non-election years. Elected officials always keep one eye focused on trends in public opinion, and they know if they try to do something that goes against that, they may pay the price when the next election rolls around. So Civitas is tasked with giving them a warm fuzzy by asking "bent" questions on whatever bad idea is bubbling to the surface each month.