Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Polling spat spills into this week on Burka Blog...

Over the past couple of weeks, Rick versus Kay spotlighted some of the polling in the race (link).

My take always has been, is, and always will be that polling this far away from an election is just not all that worthwhile. Touch base with me about a poll in a few months, and I'll listen.

Still, polling seems to drive news coverage. Kay is the perceived front runner because she has been up in the polls. My gut hunch is that Kay would win by 5-10 points if the election were held today.

Over on Paul Burka's blog, he wrote some stinging things about the University of Texas poll that came out 2 or 3 weeks ago. A lot of those things seemed similar to bullet points in an email lobbying campaign I was included on from people aggressively trying to discredit the UT poll. I didn't bite, mostly because I don't know enough about polling, and I would rather remain and be thought a jackass than open my mouth and remove all doubt.

The UT professors responded to Paul Burka, and I still don't have a high opinion of polls this far away from an election, but in my opinion, the profs got the best of Burka (link). Excerpt follows:
Neither of us was contacted by Mr. Burka about the survey. We were, therefore, surprised that he chose to inaccurately question the methodology of the poll in his podcast. When gently chided by some during the podcast, he forged ahead and headlined his blog post with a declaration that the poll was “not legitimate.” This is, in our opinion, an irresponsible and lazy characterization. We hope to hear from him next time around.
To really feel the full force of the obliteration, you should read the profs' entire blog, linked above.

In an interesting move, Paul Burka did not let the profs' rebuttal stand and instead decided to keep it going (link). Again, speaking as someone who is 100% skeptical of polls, Burka doesn't really seem like he knows what he is talking about. I want to root for him here, because I just don't really like polls, but I can't help but think he is in over his head against these profs who live, sleep, work, and breathe this stuff. Polling is practically fused to their DNA now, and watching Paul Burka try to discredit them is a little bit like watching some high school basketball coach with moderate height and fading hoops skills try to make a layup against Shaq.

Here is a comment by one of the profs in the comment section of Burka's re-rebuttal:
Jim Henson says:

Paul -

It’s your blog and I’ll respect your right to not wrestle any more on it. Thanks for the opportunity to respond, and I hope people will look at the results at the site and in the document you link to above so they can do some interpretation on their own, too.

But I do hope you’ll clarify something: when you say you’ve talked to both of us, you mean in the past, but NOT about this poll prior your commentary. That was one of our key points, and I hope you’ll clarify that for your readers.

Again, thanks for the opportunity and the interest, and for all your past support of the program. I look forward to having you back on campus for the Speaker Series again soon.

It's a trainwreck over there.

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Hey now, campaign characters. Be nice. I know a lot of you on both sides, so I don't want any overly foul language, personal attacks on anyone other than the candidates themselves, or other party fouls. I will moderate the heck out of you if you start breaking the bounds of civility.