Google "repsected pollster" and "Palestinian" and you'll get quite a few hits leading you to like here to Khalil Shikaki the, yes, "most respected pollster in the West Bank." Martin Kramer exposes this guy as someone who has failed to do his job as a pollster especially before the parliamentary Palestinian election. According to Kramer, foreign governments and organizations (who help finance his polling outlet) as well as the Israeli intelligence had relied in his pre-election polls that failed to forecast the Hamas victory. According to Kramer:
Shikaki runs something called the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, which gets money from foreign governments and foundations to conduct opinion surveys. They've earned Shikaki the moniker of "respected pollster," and he's always running off to Washington or a European capital to present his findings.
Shikaki conducted three crucial polls that affected perceptions in Washington, in the early parts of June, September and December 2005. They showed Fatah well ahead of Hamas, by a comfortable and growing margin.
Kramer notes that "with each new Shikaki poll, U.S. policymakers grew more lax when it came to setting conditions for Hamas participation" and disregarded warnings "because of certainty at the State Department and the White House that Fatah would win anyway, and that Abu Mazen would be in a stronger position to discipline Hamas after the victory. A lot of that certainty derived from Shikaki's polls."
But the American media continues to quote this "respected pollster" including Tom Friedman in a post-election column in which Shikaki once again does what he does best: Provide his American and other clients with the news they want to hear. Now he argues that Hamas actually didn't win the popular vote -- he has the numbers -- which suggests that the Bush Administration could try to do what it seems to want to do, that is, to take action that would lead to the Hamas' downfall.