(CNSNews.com) - Pollster John Zogby Thursday defended his company's participation in a left wing forum on Capitol Hill where liberal special interest groups and Democratic House members alleged that the 2004 election had been marred by fraud and malfunctioning voting machines.
And while Zogby erroneously cast Democrat John Kerry as the winner of the presidential election in his Election Day projection, the pollster insisted Thursday that his polling in the just completed presidential cycle was "very, very good."
As for the presence of his communications director at Wednesday's liberal forum on Capitol Hill, Zogby said it "was only to utilize a forum to call for a respectable commission" to address the complaints of Election Day fraud and disenfranchisement. "I rue the day when in this country one is guilty just by simply being inside a room," said Zogby, the president of Zogby International. The pollster telephoned CNSNews.com Thursday following the publication of an article detailing his firm's participation in the earlier forum.
Zogby gained national respect with his polling accuracy in the 1996 presidential election and in subsequent political races. But on Election Day this year, he predicted that Kerry would win 311 electoral votes and the presidency. Instead, President Bush won 286 electoral votes, 16 more than he needed for re-election.
Shawnta Watson Walcott, communications director for Zogby International, speaking at Wednesday's liberal forum, called for "a blue ribbon bipartisan panel" to investigate the 2004 presidential election.
The forum, held in the Rayburn House Office Building, included Judiciary Committee Democrats, liberal special interest groups and individuals like Rainbow PUSH Coalition founder Jesse Jackson. Most of the participants alleged that the 2004 election was plagued by fraud and many called for the prosecution of election officials in Ohio.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, said Zogby International's call for an investigation of the election results may have crossed a line.
"It's highly unusual for a pollster who claims not to be partisan to issue such a call [for an investigation]," Sabato told CNSNews.com on Wednesday following the event.
When asked whether he thought Zogby might be trying to spread the idea of voter fraud to explain his mistaken pre-election prediction, Sabato responded, "I can't comment on [Zogby's] motives. I have no idea. But I can tell you this. This whole [election fraud] hullabaloo is malarky.
Thursday, Zogby defended the work of his firm.
"We are not involved in any movement one way or another, now or forever, regarding the 2004 elections," Zogby said. He cited his work for conservative Christian organizations and conservative think tanks as well as various liberal groups as proof of his company's non-partisan approach.
"Participation in [the election fraud forum] was only one forum that we have selected among other forums that we'll continue to select," Zogby said. "We have a problem in this country of extreme partisanship and responsible, respectable people who believe that there was a conspiracy," which Zogby added "simply is not healthy."
Zogby said he is calling for an investigation "not to suggest that the election was stolen or to suggest that the results would be overturned, but to collect an objective, independent body of evidence of those who believe there was a problem."
Zogby also praised the accuracy of his 2004 election polling. "My polling was very, very good and extremely accurate," Zogby said.
"I made a prediction, just as (MSNBC television host) Chris Matthews, (former Clinton pollster) Dick Morris, Larry Sabato, and others have made predictions and I don't have a crystal ball," he explained. "My job is to poll and my polls are very, very good and I am proud of them," he added.
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