Posted at 8:33 AM on September 18, 2006
by Tom Scheck
The Digest will be brief this morning since I'm taking a sick day. I think it's partly from a long primary week and partly because my 'Iggles blew a 17 point lead in the 4th quarter (I'm serious on the first not so serious on the second). Anyway, the U.S. Senate race leads the digest this morning. The Star Tribune is out with a poll that shows Democrat Amy Klobuchar with a big lead over Republican Mark Kennedy. Independence Party member Robert Fitzgerald is a distant third. Klobuchar's campaign praised the poll. Kennedy's folks say the poll should be on the comics pages with Garfield.
We should call this weekend "Back to the 1990s" since former President Bill Clinton and former Speaker of the House were in Minnesota to raise money for the two candidates. Clinton raised $1 million for Klobuchar and the DFL Party. Kennedy's campaign says Gingrich is holding a fundraiser for Kennedy on Monday.
Here are stories from MPR, the Star Tribune and WCCO on the Clinton event. You can also listen to Clinton's entire speech on the MPR link above. Rachel Stassen Berger, with the Pi Press, used the Clinton event to focus on the economic plans of the two candidates.
Klobuchar is running an ad focused on the federal deficit. The Star Tribune fact checks it here. Kennedy also started running an ad criticizing Klobuchar for "saying one thing but doing another." He provides his own fact check on his website. It's the first of what is expected to be many contrast ads (which some call negative ads) in this race. The digest wonders when Klobuchar or the DSCC will run ads linking Kennedy to President Bush. The New York Times says it’s all the rage in Democratic circles.
Kennedy and Klobuchar meet in their next debate on Tuesday.
Finally, a Star Tribune poll says the race for governor is neck and neck between Republican Tim Pawlenty and Democrat Mike Hatch.
I don't know whether the Minnesota poll is right or wrong. It sure seems to be "out there" a bit but I'm not skilled enough to know why.
I do know this: poll science should be taught in public schools.
Look, I'm up for a good discussion on poll methodology and why a poll is or isn't accurate. I can usually learn a few things.
But if the Republcian Party of Minnesota doesn't retire the "The Minnesota Poll is wrong because it has failed to predict the final results accurately X number of times," I'm just going to scream.
OK, it's my own personal hell, but this sort of stuff is like getting those Internet messages from a friend, who had it forwarded to her from someone who forwarded it from someone else, who had it forwarded from someone else etc., all warning against freezing food in plastic containers because it'll release killer Dioxin. Gah!
The heading on the graph on page 2 on Minnesota Democrats Exposed leads one to ignore everything else.
Unresolved. Whether the party continues this line of reasoning because it doesn't understand polling science; or because it thinks it can convince others who don't understand polling science?
Poll methodology can certainly be questions, but you have to at least trot out a basic truth in the process if anyone's going to pay serious attention to the scholarship..
I've been out for most of the day (I'm having one-hour day surgery on Wednesday so you have to go through, like, 20 hours of pre-surgery, time-wasting, nonsense....all at $35 a pop co-pay. It's a racket, I tell ya. A racket. But I digress....), so I'm just now getting caught up on stuff.
First (and last, since I have nothing else to offer) on the polls. I chatted with Michael Brodkorb a bit ago who noted -- justifiably so -- his pride at going through years of newspapers to document the record of the Minnesota poll.
My gripe with his graph -- which I may not have explained properly -- was with the word "prediction." In fact, I followed a link that someone had posted in the comments section, and then did a Google search, and it really is remarkable how often the word "poll" and "predict" come in the same sentence.
Here's the thing: I "hate" the concept of polls predicting anything. I don't think they do. I think they show you what some people said at a particular time and those people -- if the methodology is correct -- represent a broader spectrum.
I think if you're really good at reading polls, you might be able to predict something, but I don't believe the poll itself does that.
Specifically, Michael's graph does note that it represents the final poll before Election Day, and I'll grant you that the final poll before election day is likely to have a better relationship with the final electoral results than one a month before, or two months before etc.
I think the best way to use a poll -- any poll -- is to look at it as a snapshot in time and then compare it to the same poll, which is a snapshot of another time, and look for movement.
For example, at one point, Tim Penny was "leading" in the race for governor, according to a poll. Some months later, he was third. What happened? Tim Penny didn't do anything wrong, but voters -- and this is my interpretation -- didn't want to vote for an Independent because they thought the eventual winner was going to be a Republican or a DFLer and they didn't want to allow the (pick name of party you don't like and put it here) Party into office with their "wasted" vote.
That poll showed movement. (And I also think the fact the poll showed movement actually did influence the election because I think it told other people "jump off the Penny wagon bandwagon because other people are").
The interesting thing about the Senate race polls, whether you embrace Zogby or Rasmussen or the Minnesota poll is this: they ain't budging. The numbers might be different when compared with one another, but they're not changing when compared to the same poll.
What does that tell us in this race? Oh, what? You think I know?
Patty Wetterling --that's Patricia Wetterling officially, I guess -- is out with her new TV ad, which I think is the first.
What's with the black and white? Ever notice in those "negative ads," what they do with the photos and video of the "other " candidate?
Yep, black and white.
What would been effective with this ad -- if they really wanted black-and-white stuff -- is at the end, when they put the picture of Wetterling up and she says "paid for by ..." whatever -- tkae her black and white picture and slowly have it become a color picture.