Friday, July 10, 2009

Reacting to our polls

I tend to find the reactions of politicians and their handlers to polls we release that they don't like the results of to be pretty short sighted. For instance even though we're a Democratic company we've been criticized in the last few months by Blanche Lincoln, Michael Bennet, and the Wisconsin Democratic Party. From my experience, when folks start dissing pollsters it is the surest confirmation that they are in some trouble. Every single campaign I can remember publicly attacking us last year- Elizabeth Dole, Richard Moore, Bob Orr, Bill Daughtridge- ended up losing.

Which brings me to my point- Tim Kaine's comments yesterday to the Richmond Times-Dispatch when asked about our Virginia poll this week that wasn't so great for Democrats are exactly the way to respond. Instead of bad mouthing us he just stayed on message, said that he thought Obama was popular in Virginia, and that the Democratic ticket was in perfectly good position to win this fall. That sort of response projects a lot more confidence in your position than feeling the need to speak negatively about a friendly but honest polling company.

Paul Shumaker of Richard Burr's campaign is well on his way to winning the gold medal for how not to deal with a pollster that you don't like, as his continual diatribes against us are keeping Burr's vulnerability in the spotlight and frankly making us look better than they make him look. The latest came in a Roll Call story yesterday about how he had to pay for the poll he conducted about Burr last month and list it as an in kind contribution on finance reports lest he run into trouble with the FEC. Apparently unhappy that he can't both be Burr's chief advisor and claim that polling he conducts about Burr is independent of the campaign, he used the opportunity to lash out at us once again, suggesting that 'We need to have the discussion of who is paying for the PPP polls.'

I guess he must think the big bad Democratic bogeyman is paying us to do polls. But here's a selection of our media hits from the last month alone:

-Democratic Wisconsin Governor trailing two opponents for reelection.
-Unions unpopular in North Carolina.
-Mike Easley the most disliked Governor in recent state history.
-Incumbent Democratic Ohio Governor with plummeting approval and reelect numbers.
-Bev Perdue with a 30% approval rating.
-Jon Corzine down by double digits, Barack Obama's approval rating declining in New Jersey.
-The entire GOP ticket leading by at least six points in Virginia.
-Obama numbers under 50% with independents everywhere we've polled lately.

It's safe to say no external Democratic candidate or organization is funding this onslaught of bad news we're releasing- if anything someone might want to pay us not to! The truth is that almost every set of numbers we've released in the last month has been good news for Republicans- with the exception of Sarah Palin, Richard Burr, Norm Coleman, and Tim Pawlenty- and that's their fault, not ours. If a third party organization ever funds a poll we put out publicly that will be front and center in the release, otherwise we're funding our own research to increase the amount of information publicly available about various races and issues of interest across the country.


Will Matthews said...

This touches on an issue of interest that I've never understood. As a profit seeking company, what is the marginal benefit to a polling company in self-funding public polls? Is it that the media attention drives private clients to the company? Is that factor alone significant enough to make pollsters put out as many polls as they do, or is there some other marginal benefit?

Tom Jensen said...

Doing the public polling has allowed us, as a newer company, to demonstrate to potential clients that we know what we're doing. Since we really stepped it up 18 months ago we've had a large increase in business.

But mostly we do it because it's fun.

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