Friday, February 12, 2016


This is news:
First Nevada Poll In Weeks Shows Sanders Tied With Clinton
Or is it?
A Washington Free Beacon/TargetPoint Consulting poll released Friday shows between Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sander (I-VT) in Nevada. It's the first poll conducted in the state this year.

The poll showed support for Clinton and Sanders tied at 45 percent of respondents.
This is, to put it mildly, an outlier:
In December, a Gravis Marketing survey showed Clinton up by 23 percent.
Should we believe this poll? It's from the conservative Washington Free Beacon. The pollster is TargetPoint Consulting, a GOP linked firm that's provided microtargeting data to the Republican National Committee, Bush Cheney '04, and Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign. Nate Silver has said that, as a polling firm, it "has a pretty strong Republican lean." At one point in 2008, it published a poll showing John McCain beating Barack Obama in Colorado by 12 points, at a time when all other polls of the state showed Obama leading. (Obama ultimately won Colorado by 9 points.)

And while the first half of the poll seems legit, with no controversial questions leading up to (and thus biasing the results for) the "whom do you think you would vote for?" question, the survey finishes up with questions intended either to turn voters against the two Democrats or to test lines of attack that can be used by Republican opponents. Here are those questions:
While Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, the Clinton Foundation received millions in foreign donations and did not disclose them, despite her promising President Obama that she would do so. Does this make you more or less likely to support her?

Bernie Sanders says he wants to increase taxes on corporations in order to improve income equality, while other say this money would go to pay for new government spending programs. Does this make you more or less likely to support him?

Hillary Clinton supported the Wall Street bailout and big banks have given her over $1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions and speaking fees. Does this make you more or less likely to support her?

Bernie Sanders has proposed trillions in new government spending, including $15 trillion dollars more for a government run health care program. Does this make you more or less likely to support him?

Recently several news organizations have reported that the FBI could indict Hillary Clinton over her handling of her email server. How concerned are you that she could actually face such an indictment?
(If you care, the first two Clinton items are a matter of concern for respondents, though the final Clinton item and the Sanders items aren't.)

This is a poll conducted in the service of the GOP. It might be reliable. But I take it with a grain of salt.


Feud Turgidson said...

You had me at Free Bacon. Of course it's a push poll.

Before Silver had his current platform, before the one where he was briefly under ESPN, before even he moved over to the Times, for several years after his Baseball Prospect franchise was able to run without him, he had 'the original' 538 website. I'd find it surprising if it turned out I'm the only one here who recalls that. IAE, after the 2008 election and before he moved his show to the Times, Silver performed quite a thorough analysis of how pollsters (not poll aggregation outfits - pollsters) performed up to Election Day. One thing I particularly recall is that a number of the rightwing, oligarchy, GOP-favorable, R-leaning outfits, including Gallup (which was taken over by R-favoring managers a year and so before the 2004 cycle), generally performed very poorly against the mean over the year or so coming into October 2008, whereupon it seemed like Gallup used its Daily Tracking Poll gimmick something like a thousand tugboats moving around the Mearsk line Emma, as Gallup moved deliberately but inexorably towards the polls that had been predicting an Obama win since he pretty much sewed up the DNC nomination in March, and a big win since Palin's pratfalls in early September and the when "the economy cratered" (as Lettermean reported McCain told him) later in September.

What that did for Gallup, and several other R-favorable pollsters, is work to disguise - not to Silver, of course, and not to academics who'd been doing aggregation all along, like Sam Wang of Princeton - how pushy they'd been acting all thru the election cycle, until it was clear there was no hope and no point, that McCain-Palin was headed off to sleep with the fish, and so now it was every pollster for its own rep.

It didn't go quite like that during the 2012 cycle; in 2012, it was more like there was two realities running in parallel, like in China MiƩville's The City & The City, plus the gap wasn't nearly so embarrassingly big as in 2008, if indeed embarrassment was a factor then (It's quite possible most in the GOP actually drank their own pollsters' Kool-Aid, like appears to have been the case with Karl Rove.). In any event, there was no armada of tugboats dispatched near the end, so all the R-inclined pollsters performed more or less about the same wrong way.

The POINT is, since GOPers seized ownership of and them effective management over the political election works at Gallup, rightwing push polls have pretty much been treated as respectable, ever 'real'. And other than but for a 2-3 hour period each weekday evening on the least-watched of the larger cable news orgs, who is there to say otherwise?

Tom Hilton said...

That was my first reaction. But if the questions were asked in the order given, then the horserace question was asked before all the "push" questions. So I'm not sure. Obviously there was a political agenda, but it's not clear that this moved the horserace numbers.

On the other hand, we have no idea how reliable this poll is because they don't provide an ethnic breakdown of the sample.

Ernest Lamonica said...

This poll reminds me of Twitter. In this regard. There are so many GOP plants in the Bernie Bots Brigade (probably in Hillary-ites also) it is astounding. I posted on Twitter a few months ago that "Bernie, who is not a Democrat, is being treated like JFK reincarnated". I got responses like "Bernie is far superior to JFK' "If JFK was alive who would give a shit?" This poll reminds me of them or Rasmussen.

Mickey Winfield said...

There's been no real polling here. I don't take the word of this poll considering the source but I do live here and for a month or so I've believed there was a surge for Sanders, here. Of course, I'm a Sanders supporter but I'm more likely to feel anxious over my candidates than to see them winning when they're not or, often, when they are. I'm glass half empty person so when I start feeling hopeful, things are moving.

I do believe Sanders will do well here on Saturday if his message has reached enough people. We are #2 in the country in unemployment, #1 in underemployment, and have a high population of seniors in the traditionally Republican northern part of the state. The hatred and anger towards Wall Street and the banks here far surpasses that in other parts of the country as we were among the hardest hit in the crash. Our housing market went down in 2006 devastating many long before the rest of the country knew there were big problems coming. Foreclosure were massive and have not ended yet. People who lost their homes here were, by and large, middle class homeowners who lost their livelihoods with the crash. Clinton's blaming of the homeowners "who should have known better" doesn't play well. It's rare to find anyone here who was hurt by the crises. It's impossible to find anyone who doesn't know people who were.

I don't know who will win. I'll be caucusing for Sanders in Carson City on Saturday. I do think Sanders has been doing better here than most think since Nevadans have started to hear him.

Mickey Winfield said...

Typo in my above comment. Should read, "It's rare to find anyone who wasn't hurt by the crisis." Sorry

Francis Smart said...

Ok, but FiveThirtyEight seems to be taking the poll pretty seriously.

Phoenix Woman said...

The Gravis poll, which the national media ignored in its rush to push the Hillary-is-doomed myth, correctly had her up by six.

Sanders outspent her 2 to 1, and Karl Rove was running free ads on Bernie's behalf", and she still beat him by six.