Local Polling...Political Propaganda

The Lexington Herald-Leader, Louisville Courier-Journal and TV stations WKYT (Lexington) and WHAS (Louisville) have combined their efforts for polling purposes this year, having the polling outfit SurveyUSA conduct a number of polls regarding the Senate race between republican incumbent Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Kentucky State Secretary Alison Grimes. There have been a flurry of polls lately, SurveyUSA's results markedly different from highly acclaimed national polling organizations like the Rasmussen Reports and CBS/New York Times pollsters.

The media outlets commissioned a SurveyUSA poll (called the “Bluegrass Poll”) in February that showed Grimes ahead but not by much. They commissioned another “Bluegrass Poll” in late August but discovered to their horror that their own poll showed McConnell ahead by four points, at which point a Mellman Poll was hired by Grimes in early September that showed Grimes was ahead by two points. During that same period, the nationally highly regarded Rasmussen polling had McConnell ahead by five points.

Another poll was conducted by Mellman in September, with Grimes beating McConnell one or two points maybe because of one of her ads, as if anyone pays attention to those million-dollar sinkholes. During a late September poll conducted by the New York Times and CBS (both McConnell haters), McConnell was ahead by six points, perhaps pulling away.

At this point, desperation apparently set in at the Lexington and Louisville media-outlets-for-Grimes, so another “Blue Grass” poll was conducted by the same outfit as before, SurveyUSA, and, predictably, Grimes came out ahead by two points, despite the highly respected national polls showing the opposite. The highly respected national polling agencies have the advantage of being entirely objective, whereas local polling is purely subjective, reflecting agendas and not facts.

On 20 October, the results of yet another “Bluegrass Poll” were noted in the media with McConnell ahead but by only a point. On 17 October, Rasmussen reported its results, which had McConnell ahead 52%-44%...an eight-point bulge over the weekend? Of course not! The inordinate disparity in the polls is obvious. During polling from January through June this year, Gallup discovered citizens leaning republican as opposed to democrat 45%-39%. This margin, validating Rasmussen and covering a six-month period, has probably widened greatly.

Six years ago, McConnell defeated Bruce Lunsford to keep his seat. A look at that race in 2008 is instructive. On 21 October that year, Rasmussen had McConnell ahead 50%-43%, while SurveyUSA (Bluegrass Poll gang?) on 20 October called the race even, 48%-48%. That's a huge differential, well beyond believability.

On 29 October just before the 2008 election, Rasmussen had McConnell ahead by 51%-44% but, strangely, SurveyUSA also had McConnell ahead by an even greater face-saving margin, 53%-45%, indicating an eight-point swing in just nine days, a total departure from reality and reason to wonder how something that unbelievable could happen unless Lunsford maybe robbed a bank. He didn't. McConnell won the election by 53%-47%, vindicating Rasmussen but perhaps indicating skulduggery vis-a-vis SurveyUSA.

So...what's a citizen to do? Should the voter believe the nationally acclaimed polls or polls ginned up by local candidates and institutions having their own agendas? The media instigators of the “Bluegrass Poll” have a long history of McConnell-bashing and have been fervent in their opposition to him, even though he's been a Senate leader for many years and likely will become Majority Leader if republicans win back the Senate.

Grimes, apparently dissatisfied with disappointing “Bluegrass Poll” numbers, simply hired her own polling outfit, but what good is polling if it appears to be tainted and entirely bogus, as in this case? Her efforts seem to reek of desperation, but trying to fool the public, whether by polls or anything else, is not the way to go. That's an insult to Kentuckians, an elitist attitude remarking Kentuckians as so dumb they can't see through this subterfuge.

Using “fixed” polls, besides being dishonest and condescending, actually helps get out the republican vote on the chance that some repubs actually believe them. So, who's being gullible, the media perhaps? The next polls, if carried out, will be INTERESTING!

And so it goes.
Jim Clark