South Smacks LA Blog’s Dis; H-Carly Blows Off Coast

Oct7

014-141Garry trashes LA Blog rumor: Our eyebrows caught fire when we read an item about SF Mayor Gavin Newsom and former President Bill Clinton, posted by Michael Higby on the LA blog “Mayor Sam’s Sister City,” that said in part:

You heard it here first on Mayor Sam – according to various accounts across California, Garry South has scolded Prince Gavin into a corner and is forcing him to finally fundraise if he wants to be viable. In fact, South has made his pronouncement to many outside of Team Newsom to the point that this old dead Mayor would now hear it. Either raise $5 million by December or drop out!

Now, we know, from sources, that our friend Garry is pushing the Prince of Prides to raise more money to be competitive with Crusty the General Brown, who’s sitting on about seven times the cash Gavin’s got. But we also know South’s no idiot and isn’t likely to be giving orders to his clients or telling other people that he’d given a client an ultimatum. So we asked him about it and got back an email eyeful:

garrysouthThis is complete, utter bullshit, and I categorically deny it.  “Mayor Sam” never talked to me to pass any of these hearsay assertions by me, and he is just picking up and disseminating intentional disinformation from the Brown camp — including Brown himself, who’s too busy “doing his job as AG” to debate, but has time to hang on the phone in his Oakland loft starting and spreading rumors about Newsom.  I don’t give my candidates ultimatums of any sort.  I stuck with [Gray] Davis when he was running fifth in the Field Poll at 8 percent of the vote, and being massively outspent by two multi-millionaires, and when I took on the [Steve] Westly campaign, he was running fourth in the Field Poll, also with 8 percent.  I would never advise Newsom to drop out, so Brown can lollygag his way through an uncontested primary, running a lazy, perfunctory, do-it-yourself ”campaign,” then be a big, fat and happy sitting duck in the November 2010 general election (think Dan Lungren in 1998).

Even if we overlook “Mayor Sam’s” headline typos (above), we still gotta think South’s  got a point here:  He knew what he was getting into when he signed up with Gavin.

On, as the editorial writers like to say, the other hand, it doesn’t help your cause when you get pieces written like this in Newsweek under the headline: “The Impending Implosion of California Gov Hopeful Gavin Newsom.” Ouch.

strategic vision

Lies, damn lies and statistics: Remember back last winter when Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton in Iowa and everybody thought he’d go on to beat her in New Hampshire? When he didn’t, everybody wanted to know what’s wrong with those damn polls anyway.

In the wake of the debacle, the American Association for Public Opinion Research launched a study of the polling in New Hampshire. You’d have to be a total polling geek to know this (we name no names) but one company -– Strategic Vision LLC — wouldn’t or couldn’t give AAPOR simple, basic information like “who sponsored the survey; who conducted it; a description of the underlying sampling frame; an accounting of how ‘likely voters’ were identified and selected; response rates; and a description of any weighting or estimating procedures used.”

So last week, when AAPOR, a most conservative, punctilious, conscientious, scrupulous group – what you call your model of propriety — said Strategic Vision has “repeatedly refused to release essential facts about polls it published prior to the 2008 presidential primaries in New Hampshire and Wisconsin,” it caused something of a media stir because a number of news outlets had been using Strategic Vision’s bullshit polls.

There’s not much AAPOR can do to Strategic Vision, except declare the firm in “violation of the association’s Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.” But as the New York Times noted:

“The controversy has also led to a critical examination of the indiscriminate use of poll numbers. Strategic Vision’s polls have been cited by numerous news organizations, including The Associated Press, The Washington Post, MSNBC, Fox News and, on at least three occasions, The New York Times, even though the company has repeatedly failed to provide supporting data and the methodology for its surveys.”

Calbuzz finds all this pretty damned interesting, especially given the surfeit of polls already taken, with many more to be released, leaked and peddled in the California governor and Senate races. Which motivates our Department of Weights and Measures to remind readers of Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch (HO to AAPOR) and the key information to know about any poll:

– Who paid for the poll and why was it done?
– Who did the poll?
– How was the poll conducted?– How many people were interviewed and what’s the margin of sampling error?
–  How were those people chosen? (Probability or non-probability sample? Random sampling? Non-random method?)
– What area or what group were people chosen from? (That is, what was the population being represented?)
– When were the interviews conducted?
– How were the interviews conducted?
– What questions were asked? Were they clearly worded, balanced and unbiased?
– What order were the questions asked in? Could an earlier question influence the answer of a later question that is central to your story or the conclusions drawn?
– Are the results based on the answers of all the people interviewed, or only a subset? If a subset, how many?
– Were the data weighted, and if so, to what?

Full disclosure: We may not know the answer to every one of our questions before we write about a survey or a specific finding, if we have previous experience with the pollster that causes us to have confidence in his or her methods and motives. As general guidelines, though, these are pretty good.

McCain 2008Hurricane Carly moves offshore: Would-be California Senator Carly Fiorina’s recent no-show at the Republican convention has some conservative commentators harrumphing, in part because no one’s quite sure where she stands on a fair number of important issues.

Should iCarly capture the nomination, however, one area where she’s sure to have sharp differences with incumbent Barbara Boxer will be whether to expand oil drilling off the coast of California.

As a senior surrogate for the McCain-Palin ticket last year (at least until she got booted for dissing the ticket-topper’s executive skills), the HP Hurricane eagerly endorsed expanded offshore drilling, as in this CNN interview, as well as a “Face the Nation” appearance in which she flogged McCain’s mid-campaign move to a drill-baby-drill position:

“We have very sizeable reserves of oil off our shores and now is the time for us to take control of our own energy future. We must. It’s a matter of economic security, national security and environmental security as well.”

For the record, Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, iCarly’s GOP rival, also backs more offshore drilling, which ensures a sharp contrast with longtime whale hugger Boxer in the general election, regardless of who captures the Republican nomination.

7723_Gottfried_LeibnizAs the eMeg turns: The funniest and best written second day story on Meg Whitman’s belated letter assailing the SacBee’s no-vote probe comes from comedy writer Chris Kelly over at Huffpost.

Casting eMeg as “Multipersonality Meg” for her sequential series of shifting statements about voting, Kelly offers a rigorous, line-by-line deconstruction of the Bee missive, improbably finishing with an homage to the 17th century logician Gottfried Leibniz:

The frontrunner for the Republican nomination for Governor of California just proved she votes using the argumentum ad ignorantiam and the transitivity of implication.

Now that’s a candidate who values education.

That which cannot be disproved must be believed. The evidence that Meg Whitman voted sometime between her 18th birthday and her 46th is that there’s no proof she didn’t. (Except her own admission, before she began the process of reconciling her recollections.) The other evidence that Meg Whitman voted is that Nancy Pelosi voted. The evidence that Nancy Pelosi voted is that there’s no evidence that she did.

And in a tomb in Hanover, Leibniz’s head explodes.



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There are 3 comments for this post

  1. avatar Ave7 says:

    The Chris Kelly piece is just brilliant. I haven’t laughed that hard since Arnold’s press spokesman referred to then-Lt. Gov. Bustamante as a “future casino greeter.”

    So what’s 9/11 this I hear 9/11 about Rudy “9/11″ Giuliani supporting 9/11 Meg “9/11″ Whitman? Didn’t she support everyone except Rudy at some point in the ’08 election?

    • avatar starstation says:

      Rudy can be bought.
      Let’s see if he stays bought.
      Not sure this is going to do squat for Meg Z. Frump

  2. avatar pedronava says:

    Great discussion of what it takes to make a good poll with trustworthy results. There are at least two kinds of polls, one to “know” (where you are sincere in attempting to measure opinions) and one to “show” (a poll bought and paid for so you can parade the desired results) PXP has still refused to disclose the truth of their poll, refused to answer any of the 20 questions I sent them. They are so used to doing business behind closed doors that even a little sunlight makes them squirm.

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