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Puerile Polls, Pennant Races and Pigeon Hearts

Sep9

Calbuzz has made no secret that we think the Rasmussen Poll, with its automated calling, God-knows-what sampling technique and conservative bias, is basically crap. So we don’t pay much attention to it, even when its results seem in the ballpark. You know: a monkey typing for an infinite amount of time could produce Hamlet, etc.

So two weeks ago, when Rasmussen had the California governor’s race with Meg Whitman at 51% and Jerry Brown at 43%, and Whitman’s guard dog Mike Murphy predicted we’d trash the poll, we just said, “Why bother?” And we were going to just pay no nevermind again when, on Wednesday, we saw that Rasmussen now has the race at 48-45% for Whitman — although exactly NOTHING happened between the two surveys to move the needle (Brown’s new ad wasn’t even up yet).

But for some unknown reason, some media outlets give credence to Rasmussen, so we thought we’d just note a couple of findings that ought to steer our esteemed colleagues away from circulating this survey swill.

Here’s all you need to know: the new Rasmussen poll has Whitman beating Brown among liberals 62-35%. That’s absurd. At the same time a poll from CNN, done by Opinion Research Corp., has Meg over Jerry 48-46%, with liberals voting for Brown 80-16%, which sounds about right.

Rasmussen also has Whitman beating Brown 62-31% among voters 65 and older, compared to the CNN poll which has Brown over Whitman 50-47% in the same age group. Another stupid Rasmussen result.

Mark our words: when it gets down to the wire, and reputable pollsters have weighed in with serious results from legitimate polling, outfits like Rasmussen and Survey USA will post surveys right on the money. However they get there.

P.S.For a more complete discussion of the Calbuzz Standards for Polling, Decency and Free Lunch see this discussion from our Department of Weights and Measures.

Political pennant races: In the final week of August, the San Diego Padres led major league baseball’s Western Division by a comfortable 6.5 games, Vegas oddsmakers made them a 97.2% lock to make the playoffs and their fans were buzzing about probable post-season pitching rotations.

Then they lost 10 games in a row.

At the start of play last night, the Pads led the never-quit Giants by exactly one game, amid the caterwauling and hair-pulling of fans desperate to figure out why their team had suddenly collapsed.

The answer was simple. The Padres had merely run up against one of the venerable unwritten rules of baseball: The pennant race doesn’t start until September.

Baseball’s long history of amazing stretch runs – the ’51 Giants, the ’78 Yankees and the ’95 Mariners for starters – came to mind amid the quickly cementing Beltway conventional wisdom that Republicans are guaranteed to seize control of the House in November and, most likely,  the Senate as well.

A series of national polls, which show that voters strongly prefer a generic GOP congressional candidate over a Democratic one, has generated widespread mockery of a purportedly failed president and ignited (sheesh) created a tsunami of GOP/Fox News triumphalism, summed up best by the single fact that a Google search of John Boehner, the GOP House leader and wannabe Speaker, and the words “measuring the drapes” yields 31,900 hits.

Calbuzz would never presume to claim the unfailing wisdom of the godlike Larry Sabato or the clairvoyance of the sage Charlie Cook.  All we know is a) generic polls don’t mean squat in a local congressional district dogfight; b) trash talking in the clubhouse don’t win games on the field; c) that’s why they have horse races.

So while we’re not making any predictions about the congressional mid-terms, we do note Chris Cillizza’s pretty clear-eyed observation that the  real battle will come down to who wins the definitional fight to frame what the races are about  – a national referendum on the Administration or a district-by-district, state-by-state comparison between two competing candidates.

Oh, and did we mention that the only poll that matters is the one on election day?

Annals of weenie-hood: The Calbuzz Department of Ethical Standards and Goo-Goo Meritorious Service presents gold badges of honor to Mark Yudof and Jack Scott, UC president and community college system chancellor respectively, for resigning from the state Chamber of Commerce board of directors to protest that august body’s taking sides in the race for governor. (CSU president Charles Reed, who remains on the board, apparently has more elastic standards).

Said Scott:

I do not believe the board is using sound judgment by catapulting the California Chamber of Commerce into the center of a fierce political contest…It is destructive to the chamber’s core mission and the businesses it represents when it becomes a partisan operation.

While we admire Scott’s pluck, not to mention his choice of the woefully underused verb “catapult,” we have no beef with the Chamber looking out for their member’s interests by endorsing Republican Meg Whitman and her tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Nor do we begrudge them their decision to spend big bucks running TV ads trashing Jerry Brown.

What does rankle, however, is their lily-livered, pigeon-hearted, weak-kneed, yellow-bellied, gutless spinelessness in hiding behind the skirts of the phony pretense that what they’re putting on the air is some kind of “issue ad.”

These guys and eMeg spend half their lives whining about the injustice of unions airing independent expenditure committee spots in support of Brown, but at least the labor goons have enough courage in their convictions to identify themselves on campaign spending reports.

C’mon Zaremberg, get those weenies on your board to man up for once in their craven, cowardly lives.

Three dot lounge: Must have been an off-year for Dick: Senator Difi clocks in only at #10 on the list of the richest members of Congress…We don’t understand why Denis Thierault appears to have been the only one to report on a fascinating study that shows Democrat counties send Sacramento more in revenue than they get back in services, while GOP counties represented by anti-government types end up on the plus side of the ledger; drown the baby in the bathtub indeed…We’re glad we’re not the only ones grumbling about Fred Thompson peddling reverse mortgages on late night cable for a company that preys on old folks…Amid all the brouhaha about Krusty’s  terms as mayor of Oakland, Steve Harmon has written the best reported piece on his record we’ve seen…Bad taste costs no more


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There are 4 comments for this post

  1. avatar tegrat says:

    Last time I checked, “Democrat” was still a noun, and only a noun, despite repeated attempts by Republicans to use it as an adjective (and intending it mostly as a pejorative). Although I salute Calbuzz’s creative and amusing wordsmithing, this is a bit beyond the pale.

  2. avatar ReilleyFam says:

    As for Rasmussen, “even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” The only poll that is reliable is “likely voters.” Look at them, as I’ve said before, CA has a lot of people with opinions, with Libs in the majority, but only the ones who actually vote count, which makes CA a lot more red than what we are culturally. Once again the quiet DTSer in corner will decide things.

  3. avatar Mickey Kaus says:

    I dunno. In the recent NJ governor’s race, it sure seemed as if Rasmussen consistently had Christie leading by about 3 points while some “legitimate polling” outfits were all over the lot, several (cough New York Times cough) showing Corzine leads. Christie won by 4. Hard to see how Rasmussen fudged at the end there.
    http://bit.ly/1Date8

    I also note that Pollster.com seems to take Rasmussen seriously, and they know more about polling than I do.
    http://bit.ly/aZY5Ar

  4. avatar chrisfinnie says:

    I’m with Calbuzz on this one. Studies consistently show that, while voters regularly damn the party in power, their attitude toward their own representative is markedly different. So a national Party poll says little about how voters in each congressional district will vote. Sorry to the Tan Man (aka John of Orange), but that’s why we study history. Because, sometimes sadly, it does tend to repeat. So don’t get your heart set on those drapes yet. That said, history also shows that the party in power tends to lose seats in the midterms. While I would cry few tears for Harry Reid, I’d miss Ms. Pelosi. She’s shown more political moxie, savvy, and gumption than most anybody in DC over the last 2 years IMHO. Besides, I’ve enjoyed having a woman run the House. Seems fitting and long past due.

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