Saturday, September 04, 2010

About the recent CD5 poll numbers (and CD1 and CD8)

Serving to fill in the deafening silence from the RW blogs (zero posts and counting so far) regarding Jan Brewer's performance has been the recently released poll numbers purporting to show that the R candidates in CDs 1, 5, and 8 are head of or tied with the Democratic incumbents in those districts.

What the R blogs haven't mentioned in their crowing about the poll are the partisan biases of the groups behind the poll.

The poll was commissioned by a 501c(4) group called the American Action Network (AAN).  It's part of an organization of different groups created to serve as a Republican advocacy effort "independent" of the Republican Party in its quest to regain control of the federal government.

Among those involved with AAN -

Rob Collins, president of AAN, and former chief of staff to Eric Cantor, Minority Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of American Action Forum (one of the related groups mentioned above) was a senior adviser to John McCain during his unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign

Norm Coleman, CEO of AAN, a Republican former U.S. Senator (lost to Al Franken.  YES!)

Fred Malek, an AAN board member, was a Nixon administration operative who has become a big fundraiser for the Republican party (and John McCain)

Haley Barbour, an AAN board member, is the Republican Governor of Mississippi and head of the Republican Governors Association

The polling was conducted  by the firm Ayers McHenry, a company that openly, even proudly, proclaims that it is partisan and supportive of Republican candidates and causes.  Not that reading their website's list of clients isn't a dead giveaway.

The polling data has been released through AAN's affiliate group, American Action Forum (AAF).

I'm not qualified to discuss the technical aspects of the way that the poll was conducted, but there seem to be issues with the methodology of the poll - a small sample size, a universe that seems to be skewed toward self-identified conservatives out of proportion to their presence in the population as a whole, and questions, that if not quite of "push poll" quality, definitely look to be designed to elicit certain desired responses.

All of which serve to undermine the credibility of the results, making it seem likely that the "poll" is less "scientific research" and more "messaging research" or even "wishful thinking."

At best, this should be considered to be a third party-funded "internal poll."  As the Parraz campaign (and I) learned in the just-completed primary cycle, internal polls have a tendency to match the spin that is placed on them and not to reflect real sentiment.

To be sure, the Democrats in question - Ann Kirkpatrick (CD1), Gabrielle Giffords (CD8), and Harry Mitchell (CD5) - have tough races ahead of them.

Giffords and Mitchell both face significant Republican registration advantages in their districts (~18K in CD8, ~ 40K in CD5).  Kirkpatrick has a Democratic advantage (~ 20K) to work with in CD1, but her district is heavily rural and as recently as 2006 elected a [corrupt] Republican (Rick Renzi).  It's a district that has been able to elect conservative Democrat Jack Brown and (relatively) moderate Republican Bill Konopnicki to the Arizona House of Representatives (LD5, each).

In short, all three knew early on, even before their first races for the seats in Congress that they now occupy, that they would *never* have easy paths to reelection, and have been running intelligent, energetic campaigns ever since.

Caveat:  I have volunteered for the Mitchell campaign in the recent past, and will again in the near future.

When more reputable and independent polling organizations, such as Gallup or Behavior Research Center (aka - Rocky Mountain Polls), weigh in on AZ's congressional races, those results will have much more credibility than a glorified internal poll.

1 comment:

x4mr said...

Excellent post and spot on. I had thought about saying something about those numbers.

Kelly in a dead heat with Giffords a week after the primary? Please.

As a general remark, I wasn't alive when McCarthy did his thing. I cannot recall politics ever being as hysterical as they are right now.

The right doesn't even pretend to even care about facts anymore.