Wednesday, July 11, 2007

MA-05 Poll Update

In my post Monday on the latest Fifth District poll commissioned and released by candidate Eileen Donoghue, I posted a few questions that one should keep in mind when reading any internal poll put out by someone running for office. Today, I heard from the Donoghue campaign, who wanted to reassure me that their poll was legitimate.

First off, I wondered why they had used a different polling outfit than they did in their last poll. I speculated that perhaps they had commissioned two polls and released only the more favorable one. Donoghue's people assured me that this was not the case, and that they only switched polling firms because their campaign manager has worked with the new pollster before and was particularly happy with how he targets his regional breakdowns. They said that the campaign has commissioned two polls and released both of them. In addition, I noted that we had no information about what kind of questions were asked. I was told that in this case, it was a "straight horserace poll" without any biographical information and without any push. The only caveat to that is the poll was on likely voters, and as I've said in the past it's hard enough to predict who is likely to vote in a regularly scheduled general election, let alone a special primary -- especially one the day after Labor Day.

That disclaimer about likely voters aside, I feel more confident about Donoghue's poll than I did earlier in the week. Candidates depend on honest information about the electorate to craft their message or plan their targets. They do not benefit by paying someone to lie to them. The campaign that relies on misleading numbers will find itself in for a shock on election day.