Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Poll Showing Pombo in Trouble

Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund just released a poll that shows both Jerry McNerney and Steve Filson beating Pombo in head-to-head match-ups. Furthermore, the poll shows Pombo simply cratering since September of 2005. Still, I think it’s a little too good to be true.

The basic results are as follows:

Question wording: If the general election for Congress were held today and the candidates were (Airline Pilot Steve Filson/ Renewable Energy Businessman Jerry McNerney), the Democrat, and Rancher and Congressman Richard Pombo, the Republican -- for whom would you vote?

Richard Pombo 41%/Richard Pombo 42%
Steve Filson 49%/Jerry McNerney 46%
Undecided 10%/Undecided 12%

The margin of error on this poll is 4.9%

Now Steve Filson has already issued a press release claiming that because this poll shows him beating Pombo by more than Jerry McNerney, he’s the strongest Democrat in the race. He says:

The poll not only showed Filson defeating Pombo, it showed Filson would be the strongest Democrat in the general election. The poll showed Filson with a lead over Pombo twice as large as the margin of Jerry McNerney, whose lead falls within the polls margin of error, one of the two other candidates in the Democratic primary.

Although I fully understand why Filson would want to crow about these results, I think two things ought to give us pause about this poll before we declare Filson Mr. Electable.

First, we just found out yesterday that polls have shown Filson with 10% name ID in the Democratic primary. So somehow I mistrust a poll showing 49% of the electorate would vote for him. And if it’s accurate, then a huge percentage of the people who said they’d vote for Filson don’t know who he is or what he stands for. So in essence, their responses are testament to warmer feelings for “airline pilots” than “renewable energy businessmen,” divorced from any substantive statements about ideology, message, personality traits, resume items, etc. Remember, Steve Filson still hadn’t put out his first direct mail piece when this poll was taken. And most of the electorate isn’t paying attention at this point in any event.

Second, even if I were convinced that these results were genuinely predicative of the election, I’d still think that they’d bolster McNerney’s case. People like McNerney because he fights for what he believes in. I’d rather have a Democratic Congressman who will champion renewable energy technology, who will vote to withdraw troops from Iraq in a timely manner (and on a timeline), who will support universal healthcare, than one who will not. Since the beginning we’ve heard that it’d be impossible for McNerney to compete in this district. And if Filson is going to validate the results of this poll, it clearly shows this premise to be false.

The one thing I can believe about this poll is that Pombo is taking a hit in his popularity since September. Defenders and other groups (but not the Democrats) have all gone on the radio about the various misdeeds and ethically questionable activities of Richard Pombo. And I think people in his district are sick and tired of hearing that he’s busy skirting ethical boundaries instead of just doing his damn job and representing the interests of his constituents.

In any event, here’s the press release from Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund (with a link at the bottom to the polling memo).


Pombo trails both Democratic challengers in head-to-head match-ups -- and a majority thinks he puts corporate interests over public interest

Washington, DC -- Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund released a survey today showing a majority of voters in California's 11th Congressional District would vote against Richard Pombo if the election were held today. Pombo also trails either of his prospective Democratic challengers, Steve Filson and Jerry McNerney.

In a question asking voters whether they intend to re-elect Pombo or vote for someone else -- 52% say they intend to vote for someone else, while only 35% say they intend to vote for Pombo. In head-to-head match-ups, Pombo loses to Steve Filson 49% to 41% and to Jerry McNerney 46% to 42%.

"This survey shows what we have felt all along -- that once voters found out the degree to which Richard Pombo is in the pocket of special interests they would look to elect someone else who puts the public interest first," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund.

A major factor in Pombo's drop in support is the fact that a majority of voters now believe that he "puts corporate interests over the people's interest." 53% of voters believe that the above description describes him well, while only 30% say it does not describe him well.

Pombo's job approval is also in negative territory. 45% of voters disapprove of the job Pombo is doing in Congress, while 40% approve. His personal favorability is also negative. 43% of voters give him an unfavorable rating, while only 31% view him favorably.

Pombo's numbers show a dramatic deterioration from a survey that Defenders Action Fund took last September. In that survey, 46% of voters said they intended to vote for Pombo, while 37% said they intended to vote against him. The current re-elect numbers reflect a 26-point change in a little over six months.

"Richard Pombo has turned the House Resource Committee into a grand bazaar where special interests -- from mining lobbyists, to oil and gas executives, to major developers -- all get favored treatment in return for campaign cash and luxury trips. The voters have finally noticed they are getting the short end of the stick. In November it may be Richard Pombo who comes up short," said Schlickeisen.

Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research conducted the Defenders Action Fund survey from May 1-3, 2006. 402 likely general election voters in California's 11th Congressional District were surveyed by phone. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 4.9 percent.

A summary memorandum is attached. Click here to view the summary memorandum.


Anonymous MorganHillDem said...

As an organizational psychologist who often creates surveys for clients, the wording of this survey is curious. Jamming together Filson and McNerney like this is somewhat prejudicial against McNerney, because Filson's name is mentioned first. I would want to know that the telephone surveyors have varied the reading of the names so that every third caller hears Filson's name first, every third caller hears McNerney first and every third caller hears Pombo first. I would also want them to identify each candidate separately by party, to wit, "Steve Filson, Democrat, Jerry McNerney, Democrat, or Richard Pombo, Republican"..again varying the order of names each time..I do agree that this may show that Pombo will have a fight on his hands..Latest polls show about a 14% preference nationwide for Demos over Repubs in congressional races.

6:57 PM, May 10, 2006  
Anonymous rick said...

So, let's recap the polling mentioned in the Stockton Record article:

- Pombo's poll in February has McNerney leading Filson 41% to 28%

- Filson's poll in April has him leading McNerney 36% to 25%

- McNerney's poll in April has him leading Filson, but the article doesn't provide the percentages

Now this Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund is claiming that Filson beats Pombo 49% to 41% and McNereny beats Pombo 46% to 42%.

Notice a trend?

All of these polls are meaningless. Given the inconsistent and ridiculous results, it's apparent the pollsters are manipulating the process to suit their clients.

8:33 PM, May 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You think that Stanley Greenberg of the esteemed Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research would post a bullshit poll?

The numbers may be volatile, but that doesn't mean they aren't reflecting some real shifts in public opinion.

10:29 PM, May 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr 2% of a buck again (and it's really past my bedtime)

1) How can a paid consulting firm skew a result to make their client happy (shocked, shocked I say -- gambling in Rick's cafe?) -- well, here are a few ideas:

2) Pick the people (402 to be exact, and NOT broken out by any stats given by Greenberg et. al.) to be skewed more toward Dems than GOPers than is the case for the district, that'll do a lot right there, but it gets better...

3) Pick the Dem people to be more from places like Alameda County than SJC, in other words, not proportional to the breakout by county (or by city, etc.), and pick GOPers from places like Danville instead of Manteca (would people DO that? Yes, Virginia, they WOULD if you're buying and might buy more if they make you smile...)

4) Only polls done by unbiased sources (like Field, Cook, etc.) -- i.e., without a financial interest in telling the client what he/she wants to hear rather than what he/she needs to hear -- are credible, especially this early and in a contest bound to be this ugly.

Lies, damn lies, and polls.

$.02 out.

10:37 PM, May 10, 2006  
Blogger VPO said...

You all are missing the point. This poll has been praised in the STOCKTON RECORD by a REPUBLICAN pollster.

PERCEPTION is what is important here -- the growing awareness that Pombo stinks to high heaven and should be booted out of office. This poll increases the perception that Pombo is vulnerable. The idea is that the "mass mind" of the 11th District, that is, the conventional wisdom or buzz or whatever you want to call it, is out there, saying more and more that Pombo is toasted, that he is failing and that he will lose.

Don't any of you follow the stock market? It has very little to do with reality, but all with the buzz. Apple is cool, stock goes up. Apple is not cool, it goes down. Apple is still Apple, but the stock market votes everyday based mostly on buzz. It has some basis in reality, but not much.

In this sense, the overall Republican "economy" stinks -- that is people are getting sick and tired of Bush and Cheney and the Republican leadership. That is the macro picture.

Then, the individual stock, Pombo gets damaged by this macro picture, but also because his individual stock is being exposed for the fraud it is. There is just corruption, sleazy behavior, stupid ideological crap, and a guy out to destroy our National Parks and heritage. Why would anyone buy this stock?

Once people see the stock sinking, they run for the exits, in this case, voting to oust Pombo.

A poll like this -- as long as it is relatively legit, goes along way to letting people see that Pombo is vulnerable and it is time to sell the stock.

It is absolutely critical that Pombo is exposed as vulnerable, weak, and faltering. That has to become part of the "mass mind", so that when they see his $1 million worth of ads, they will know that he is a champion bullshit artist, a scammer looking for your vote, and that the reality is that he is going down big time. Once the perception becomes this way, the reality follows along.

12:57 PM, May 11, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

I think the Filsonistas are idiots to say they beat McNerney with twice the margin on percentage points when the margin of error for the poll is 4.9% (McNerney vs Pombo 46%-42% or 4% points compared to Filson vs Pombo 49%-41% or 8% points). I'm no mathematician, but I was educated in the sciences and this kind of comparison makes my teeth hurt - significant figures and all that. It's like saying 'We're within 5%, give or take 10%.' Duh. Just another way to dissemble, and maybe some less educated people buy into it.

5:02 PM, May 12, 2006  
Anonymous bubba said...

i don't think they intentionally fudged the numbers. probably just slept through stats class in college.

by the way, from what i understand, filson was the first candidate mentioned so that pretty much explains the margin between filson and mcnerney.

also, they used ballot descriptions ("airline pilot" and "renewable energy businessman") as qualifying descriptors. so, there might be a "profile bias" although i suspect it's negligible.

in any event, better methods (random order) would have produced a more reliable result.

regardless, vpo nails it -- the buzz on pombo is at pre-enron bankruptcy levels :). that's the big news.

p.s. i would have expected 30+ comments on this post. funny -- campaign workers must be out doing their jobs :)

1:54 AM, May 13, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

Something to be said for alphabetical order, I suppose. I guess it can be said without equivocation that Filson beats McNerney... in the alphabet.

11:38 AM, May 13, 2006  
Blogger Jason said...

Why are you assuming that Filson's name is mentioned first?

I interpret two choices in parentheses separated by a slash this way: sometimes they phrase the question with Filson's name, sometimes with McNerney's.

It's being done by a professional pollster. I'm sure they're doing the proper splits to minimize bias.

5:43 PM, May 24, 2006  

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