PPP: 1st time we’ve seen Rick Perry w/a positive approval rating in TX! http://t.co/2n0p6oIjCh Rick Perry is 6-0 in statewide TX elections.
— Dan McLaughlin (@baseballcrank) April 15, 2014
Totally fair to hit PPP for that, but ouch.
Very interesting article here by Sean Davis about the Nate Silver / PPP Twitter fight and subsequent break up. Executive summary: Silver’s 50-state success in 2012 apparently hinged on a last-minute Florida poll by PPP; and said poll apparently hinged on PPP’s Tom Jensen’s decision that Obama was going to win, so let’s make sure that the numbers come out that way. The flaws in relying on Jensen’s gut have become fairly clear since then*, and Silver’s not particularly happy about that… especially since the entire schtick of both men rely around the somewhat laughable statement that you can predict the future. Silver leaned a lot on PPP in the last election; he’s unlikely to do so in the next one. Unfortunately for both men, both their brands are, as Sean put it, codependent; hurt one, and the other suffers, too.
OK, OK: ‘skirmish.’ Still, of all the joys that come from winning a tough race, there’s few entertainments that compare to watching folks from the losing side take out their frustrations on each other.
I’ll summarize the issue: PPP’s Tom Jensen buried a poll from last week that, if it had been published, would have maybe warned Colorado Democrats that they were going to get destroyed in the Angela Giron recall. Nate Silver – who relies heavily on PPP in his polling fortunetelling – got shirty about that. Hi-jinks ensued.
Our own Neil Stevens storified the exchange (and also wrote about why PPP’s action was a bigger deal than they care to admit). Storify after the fold, but let me note this: Nate Silver’s got a point. However, Silver may not be getting the larger point, which is that all the polling is like that. I understand that the guy has hit the target for two Presidential races running; but I don’t know how Silver’s going to react when he’s in Jensen’s position of having the numbers tell him that an absolutely vital election is not going the way that he likes. Because Jensen’s got a point, too when he notes that Silver can miss results that Silver doesn’t want to see.
They bury the heck out of that lede by first throwing up a lot of ink about Sarah Palin, who I sincerely doubt will end up running for Senate next year. After doing that, PPP gives its readership the bad (to them) news:
The best Republican hope for this seat is Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell and the good news for the GOP is that if Palin sits it out he, and not 2010 nominee Joe Miller, is the next choice of the party base. In a three way primary Treadwell gets 33% to 25% for Sullivan and 24% for Miller. And in a head to head with Miller, Treadwell leads 53/30. Even among Republican primary voters Miller has a dreadful 26/53 favorability rating.
Treadwell still trails Begich, but only by a 44/40 margin. That’s narrowed from 47/39 on our February poll. Treadwell has a +6 favorability rating at 35/29 and has room to grow with 36% of voters still not knowing enough about him to have formed an opinion.
This is very entertaining, because it takes real skill to muck up reporting this PPP poll about Scott Walker’s chances in a hypothetical recall election; fortunately, Joe Conason is up to the challenge. Let’s look at what Conason wrote (bolding mine):
Asked whether they would support or oppose [Scott Walker’s] removal from office in a recall election, 50 percent said yes and only 47 percent said no.
The same poll found that Wisconsin voters are also apparently sorry that they replaced progressive Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold last fall with a tea party extremist named Ron Johnson. Today, they would re-elect Feingold with a comfortable margin over any Republican…
I’ve already gotten a screenshot of this, by the way. Just in case Truthdig decides to memory-hole the entire thing.
Anyway, again: Conason is reporting that 50% of PPP’s respondents favor a recall of Walker. So far, so good for the Democrats. PPP also reports that in that hypothetical election Feingold would win. OK, piece of data to consider. But what Conason did here – and probably deliberately, seeing as he didn’t link to the original poll – was falsely claim that this means that Feingold would win re-election against Senator Ron Johnson, despite the fact that PPP did not poll that hypothetical match-up. You see, Feingold was never governor of Wisconsin, so he cannot be re-elected to that position. The poll is strictly about the Wisconsin recall situation*; not about Ron Johnson. Perhaps PPP will poll a hypothetical rematch between the two, although why anybody would bother is beyond me completely (it’s not going to matter before 2016 anyway); but until then, it’s dishonest to use polling results in this manner.
Yes, ‘dishonest.’ Remember, we know that Conason meant this poll, because the numbers that he did specifically quote (but not source) are the same; and we know that Conason meant Feingold’s re-election as Senator, because he did specifically use the word “re-elect.” If Joe Conason tries to claim that this was all an innocent mistake – which he undoubtedly will – then said claim should be seen as the calculated insult to his readers’ intelligence that it is.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*As to the poll itself: yup, pretty harsh. Guess we’ll see in July how those legislature recall numbers hold up, huh? And the obvious problem that the Democrats face in exploiting their hypothetical advantage is left as an exercise for the reader: I don’t give free hints to the Left unless it suits me.
Let me preface this by saying that I have nothing against Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling: he’s a Democratic pollster, sure, but he doesn’t bury polls that are unhelpful to his side. Which is smart of him – it makes him more credible when he tells me things that I don’t particularly want to hear – but there’s nothing wrong with having a credible pragmatic reason for being virtuous. It’s sort of an added free bonus.
That being said, he really should have stuck a DOOM in here somewhere:
In both Bob Etheridge and Heath Shuler’s districts we asked whether voters would be more or less likely to vote for their representative if they supported the bill, then whether they would be more or less likely to vote for their representative if the bill passed regardless of how their actual representative voted.
In Etheridge’s district 47% of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for him this fall if he supported the bill. And 47% said they’d be less likely to vote for him this fall if the Democrats in Congress passed the bill, regardless of how Etheridge himself voted.
It’s a pretty similar story in Shuler’s district. 51% of voters said they’d be less likely to vote for him this fall if he was a ‘yes’ vote.’ But 46% also said they’d be less likely to vote for Shuler this fall if the bill passed, whether it did so with his support or not.
Let me preface this by noting that I am not criticizing Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling for suggesting the below. Tom is an open Democrat, and his polling firm is openly Democratic-leaning; he wants the GOP to lose and the Democrats to win. That’s his right, and he doesn’t try to hide it. Tom also doesn’t try to hide what turns out to be bad news for his side: PPP was reporting on the GOP pickups in NJ & MA while more ostensibly neutral polling firms were massaging the data to make the results look more ambiguous. So I’m not offended by this:
Here’s the big question: should Democrats be giving financial assistance to these ‘Tea Party’ candidates to get on the ballot as independents? It may seem like an odd concept but Republicans certainly did it with Ralph Nader and that paid off for them. There are going to be a lot of races decided by 4 points or less this fall and right wing independents pulling 5% could get some Democrats reelected this year even if they can only pull 48% of the vote. I’d love to see a Democratic group formed that raises money to do mail and media for Tea Party candidates portraying them as the only ‘real conservative’ in the race- unconventional means might be necessary to save some seats this year.
I just know that it won’t work… and maybe Tom Jensen knows it, too. He himself is scrupulous about calling Tea Party folks ‘Tea Party’ folks: he’s so scrupulous about doing it, in fact, that it’s clear that he knows how offensive the more common alternative is to Tea Party folks. Fortunately, Tom’s fellow-Democrats have been a lot less scrupulous about avoiding offense… and the Tea Party folks are well aware of that. To put it simply, while they may not like the Republicans’ leadership overmuch, they absolutely despise the Democrats’. The Democrats and their cheerleaders call them nasty names every day, right to their face: which makes the Democrats’ openly supporting a third party candidate a kiss of death for that candidate.
And it makes quietly supporting a third party candidate something much, much worse: it makes it a conspiracy.
But, again, I can’t blame Tom. What else does his party have, right now?
Nothing, from my point of view: but PPP might disagree: Tom Jensen’s noted with some alarm that the Dem/GOP numbers for this primary (885K to 736K) are a great deal closer than the Dem/GOP numbers for 2004 (1,242K to 662K), which was the last contested Senate primary*. As Tom said, “Those numbers are awfully close to each other for a state that’s overwhelmingly Democratic.”
They’re also too close together for comfort for any Democratic candidate (like, say, Alexi Giannoulias) hoping that the populace won’t notice that he’s more-of-the-same.
PS: Mark Kirk for Senate.
*No Senate elections in 2006, and Durbin ran unopposed in 2008.
This sentence from the latest PPP Brown/Coakley poll jumped out at me:
Overall 25% of voters in the state think ACORN will mess with the Senate election while 38% don’t and 37% are unsure.
Tom Jensen’s been making a good-faith (and I think, largely successful) effort to keep his own political bias out of his firm’s polling, so I don’t blame him for not pointing out that this means that almost 2/3rds of the population of Massachusetts is willing to believe that ACORN could be planning election fraud. In Massachusetts.
Crossposted to RedState.
Although I’ll readily give PPP this: they could have easily have fudged their results, and they didn’t. I don’t think that Tom Jensen should beat himself up too much for the NY-23 thing: admittedly, the poll conditions changed too often to give good results, but now we know.
And knowing, of course, is half the battle.