The Headline : Bachmann Maintains 9-point Lead Over Clark in 6th District
The Story : No story here … Bachmann is gonna win, so don’t bother thinking about the issues.
Move on to the next Headline.
Push Polls have intended results … but there are also some polls that create there own unintended conclusions. Such it is here, as no doubt when KSTP commissioned SurveyUSA to conduct polls in Minnesota’s Sixth District, it was to gauge the public sentiment. But The Headline could actually create unintended results.
Are you familiar with Push Polls ?
A Push Poll uses a leading question that is posed to ask your opinion but actually shapes your opinion to the intended answer.
For example, to influence public opinion during the healthcare legislation debate, here is one question from a Republican National Committee survey :
“It has been suggested that the government could use voter registration to determine a person’s political affiliation, prompting fears that GOP voters might be discriminated against for medical treatment in a Democrat-imposed health care rationing system. Does this possibility concern you?”
(Gosh, I wonder who suggested that ? Good thing here in Minnesota, we do not have registered voters by political party.)
Or in Minnesota, John Kline (R-MN-02) sent out a constituent survey including these questions :
10. From what you know about the health care legislation before Congress, would you support or oppose this legislation ?
Yes ___ No___ or Unsure___
11. From what you know about the health care legislation before Congress, do you believe the plan would increase or lower your costs for health insurance?
Yes ___ No___ or Unsure___
Since the response choices were “Yes” “No” or “Unsure”, I suppose that one could infer to answer number 10 and you wanted to support it, you would say “Yes” and if you opposed it “No”; but I have no idea how number 11 could be answered.
But that’s the intent … to influence your opinion.
Gosh, wouldn’t be interesting if this question was asked :
“The League of Women Voters has requested John Kline to participate in a debate with Shelley Madore during October. Mr. Kline has refused. Do believe that in an elected democracy that candidates should be required to open debate sponsored by the League of Women Voters ?”
Yes ___ No___ or Unsure___
But there can also be the unintended consequences of a poll … such as the KSTP poll.
Will voters perceive that Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06) will inevitably be re-elected, so why bother voting ?
In essence, it “pushes” voters to doing nothing.
The interesting thing is that as previously noted, the SurveyUSA Minnesota Governor’s poll implied good news for Tarryl Clark.
So, does this new poll indicate that analysis was wrong ?
The September 13th poll was based on 582 likely voters … a fair sample but does that reflect the more than 400,000 likely voters ? The margin of error is over 4 points meaning that Bachmann could be leading by only 5 points or 13 points … a fairly large range.
The Headline notes that Michelle Bachmann has retained her lead from the July 9th poll, but fails to address the movement in some voter blocks.
For example, DFL candidate Tarryl Clark had an eight point advantage from women voters ( leading 47% to 39%) … but Ms. Bachmann is now tied at 45% each. WOW. This would be a major shift … did Ms. Bachmann make some policy statements that appealed to female voters … or was this just a different sample group ?
Hmmm … but that isn’t the only voter block that changed … Ms. Bachmann had 50% support from voters over the age of 65, but in the most recent poll, she has slipped to 42% … while candidate Clark has increased from 41% to 48%. WOW … a major shift toward Clark … or was this just a different sample group ? Well, at least with the age groupings, there is further breakdown … there is a pool of voters aged 50 to 64. In that grouping, Ms. Bachmann has stayed in the 41 to 40% range while candidate Clark is in the 45 to 48% range … thus giving the impression that voters over the age of 50 (even those over 65) prefer candidate Clark.
As previously cited in the early commentary, the SurveyUSA poll may have an oversampling of male voters (54-46 in July and 52-48 in September) which is not historically consistent with who votes in November. Also there is potentially the underweighting of older voters as only 17 to 18% of the polled group were over the age of 65 yet they historically are more reliable to actually vote than other age groups.
Both sex and age favor Clark … indicating that the reported poll results of 582 participants may not really reflect the November election results.
So, there is a “push” that Bachmann is inevitable …. while no doubt she has her strong supporters … yet, is it a vocal minority that is creating an image that may not reflect the voters true sentiments ?
The Sixth District has elected Republicans for years, but looking at the SurveyUSA data, it asked about political philosophy. In both surveys, the respondents who identified themselves as Conservative was 40% while those that identified themselves as Moderate were 43% with Liberals representing 12-13%. That would suggest that Moderates are really the group that will swing the district … and in that category, candidate Clark has a clear advantage garnering over 55%.
All that said, if candidate Clark can counter the “polls show that Bachmann is inevitable” argument and instead keep to the issues, the November 2nd poll may have different results.