Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Kay's internal poll... Quorum Report's Harvey Kronberg weighs in...

I received the following in an email late this after noon... forwarded to rickvskay@gmail.com without any comment from someone I know to be a Rick insider... a former Rick campaign staff person from the last election or maybe 2002 I am not sure...

It is very interesting...


Absent supporting data, can there really be 26% undecided?

Last week we published some KBH internal polling information handed off to us by a staunch supporter. The poll was conducted by Jan van Lohuizen of Voter Consumer Research.

The memo QR received said, “Here is where things are..”

The results were counter-intuitive. The poll indicated that Senator Hutchison was leading Governor Perry by two points which is, by itself, a controversial claim given polling by Rasmussen and the University of Texas. Both indicated Perry with a double digit lead.

The memo QR received said, “Here is where things are..”

OK, polls can differ dramatically. And both sides can decline to reveal the specifics of their internal polling.

For instance, Hilary Hylton wrote in the January 25, 2009 Time, “The Hutchison team said a poll of GOP primary voters found Hutchison with 55 percent support and Perry with 31 percent, with the rest saying they did not know or choosing another option. ..Perry pollster Mike Baselice, while declining to release figures, said the governor's team has its own poll showing that in a Republican primary, "He beats her like a drum."”

But what was truly surprising and gives pause was that one in four voters sampled were undecided. No other poll has suggested undecideds even approach that order of magnitude. Absent any supporting data from the campaign or the pollster, we were left trying to unravel how they got there and whether the 26% undecided number is credible.

Although Hutchison has now run three TV spots, none seem to have been big enough game changers to triple or quadruple the undecideds that other polls report.

While no one wanted to get caught in the crossfire and speak on the record, three possibilities emerged in conversations over the last several days.

First, the sampling could have been of one time Republican primary voters. The GOP primary doubled in size last year, so that could be a rich environment. One long standing thesis has been that the larger the turnout, the better Hutchison will do.

Second, the pollster could have simply tested self-identified Republicans, whether or not they ever voted in a primary. This group would likely have more undecideds than traditional primary voters.

Third, VCR could have used an “informed ballot” which is different from a push poll although the two are often confused. An informed ballot typically tests the candidates’ head to head numbers on the front end, but then asks a series of questions that challenge the respondents perceptions about the candidate. The informed ballot is legitimate in that it tests questions that can move voters.

Linked here is an executive summary from a pollster in another state indicating the before and after results from an informed ballot poll.

Being unfamiliar with Jan van Lohuizen and Voter Consumer Research, we did what 21st century writers do. We googled the name. The first story to pop up was a rather laudatory piece in the Washingtonian.

But further research would have revealed that while the polling firm has done millions of dollars of polling for the Republican National Committee and other Senate Republican heavyweights over the years, it has also engendered its share of controversy.

VCR first surfaces in a controversy during the 2000 South Carolina Republican presidential primary when a coordinated whisper assault on John McCain circulated rumors that he was the father of a black love-child (she was adopted), that he had committed treason in Vietnam and other sordid and tawdry slurs.

While it is undisputed that there was a massive phone effort pushing negative messages about McCain, it is unclear who drove it. The New York Times about McCain’s accusation that Bush pollster VCA was “push polling” negative messages to Republican primary voters. The Bush Campaign fiercely denied the charges.

We are told that VCR surfaced in Texas in 2004 when the Republican Party of Texas conducted a “phone poll” that appeared to target Republicans Charlie Geren, Delwyn Jones, Todd Smith, Tommy Merritt, Toby Goodman, Tony Goolsby and Carter Casteel (see our November 10, 2005 posting, “Republican Party Automated Poll Targets Independent GOP Incumbents.”). Though the party claimed the poll was to build defenses against Democratic challengers, the districts in question were so Republican, the claim was -- to put it charitably—questionable. The more likely explanation was that the Party was fronting for its largest contributor at the time, Dr. James Leininger who was targeting anti-voucher Republicans.

While we suspect the race is tighter than double digits, it is indisputable that the Perry Campaign has driven the narrative and has methodically locked down the institutional support of trade associations, conservative grass roots groups and some key talk radio hosts. He may be the most successful Texas politician in harnessing the sentiments of the Tea Party activists. His appearance at a Frisco church last Sunday served as potent reminder that he is the clearly favorite son of the evangelical wing of the Republican Party in Texas.

But frankly, the internal Hutchison polling raises more questions than it answers.

By Harvey Kronberg

Since the poll from Midland-Odessa-Llano showed Rick up by 19 (link), I find it hard to believe that Kay is tied state wide... I bet the third option is what happened and her poll was based on an "informed ballot" and I bet she tested a bunch of anti Rick and possibly even anti Medina themes to drive their numbers down as much as possible... as close to a push poll as you can get but not a real push poll.

I also believe the second or first option Kronberg mentions was the sample... not strong Republicans in other words...

I think the next Texas Tribune poll and Rasmussen poll should both be out soon... probably in the next two weeks... those will have a lot more credibility than internal polls from campaigns...

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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.