Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Ohio as viewed from the Beltway.

If you are a politics junkie and you don’t regularly read Chris Cillizza’s The Fix at the WaPo site, you are missing out. Even if you don’t find his analysis compelling – I usually do – he offers a view from the beltway which is as necessary for us to consider as the ground view is for the beltway jocks.

According to Cillizza, Ohio’s primary was among the most fascinating in the nation, both because of the number of contested races and because we’re At the Heart of It All. He posted a preview story, a post-election analysis and a bonus story on competing polls in the Senate race.

I immediately scrolled down the first two stories to takes on the 13th race. In the preview he called it as Sutton vs. Sawyer, with Sutton surging, Sawyer fading, and Cafaro as the potential spoiler. In both pre- and post-election stories, he repeats statements from Republican strategists that a Cafaro would have prompted an all-out assault on the district. He hasn’t updated with R takes on Sutton’s victory.

In the comments to the first story, at least one NEO resident complained about he EM-List fliers. I heard the same thing tonight from some SCPD people. What I hear consistently is 1) Everyone hated the tone and surfeit of anti-Sawyer mailers, and 2) Even people with a fairly sophisticated level of political awareness tag both Em-List and the Sutton campaign. If Betty doesn’t think this is a problem or if she thinks she can just overcome it with “It wasn’t me,” I worry for the campaign.

Finally, Chris breaks down two polls in the Ohio Senate race, Mason-Dixon showing Dewine over Brown 47-36 and a Diane Feldman poll commissioned by Brown showing them essentially even with Brown ahead 45-44. The methodological comparison is pretty heady – real Mystery Pollster stuff. In the end, a case can be made for each poll and neither means much at this point in the game. Still, it’s nice to see something more sophisticated than “Brown commissioned the poll; it must be fixed!”


TKE House said...

Chris Cillizza hit the nail on the head with his analysis of the differnce between the sampling methodologies of the two polls. While survey samples pulled from the voter file are arguably more reliable, they are also becoming increasingly difficult to do. More and more people are using their cell phones as their primary phone, and there is no way to match these numbers against the voter file. As you can imagine, this is especially true with the younger age cohorts and can skew the poll results because these groups are undersampled.

As for the argument that polls conducted by firms commissioned by the candidate or party show more favorable results, that notion is rubbish. Self-serving polling firms would lose credibility quickly and find themselves out of business. Let's not forget that most of these firms also do a fair amount of non-political work and cannot afford to have their reputations tarnished.