Home 2013 races Why Did Bolling’s Campaign Manipulate His Poll Results?

Why Did Bolling’s Campaign Manipulate His Poll Results?

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(Interesting, although I’ve got a simpler explanation: see comments section. – promoted by lowkell)

by Paul Goldman

According to the poll results released by Bill Bolling (and allegedly the result of a poll of Virginia voters taken by his campaign’s pollster, John McLaughlin), the Lt. Governor is wildly popular in the Commonwealth. Anyone who knows anything about politics should be bowled over by Bolling’s bald-faced claim of having a 44% favorable, only 11% unfavorable rating, with the rest either undecided or unable to provide an opinion for various reasons.

Fact: There is no way Bolling is known well enough to have 55% offer a definite opinion, must less have a 44-11 positive/negative split, which is 4-1, an amazing number. NO WAY. It is a totally manipulated number either due to the poll question, or to outright data manipulation.

Anyone who has ever done polling on Virginia statewide races generally knows this is not possible. What’s even more puzzling: after claiming a sky-high 4:1 favorable to unfavorable rating, with incredible name ID for an LG, the poll then says that Bolling is only getting in the low teens in a three-way horse race.

Given the profile numbers in the poll for T-Mac and K-Man, there is no way Bolling would be so low if he had actually had a 44-11 image! Unless roughly 70% of the electorate was basically locked into a partisan vise so tightly that no independent could ever break through.

Meanwhile, the same Bolling polls claims that upwards of 70% of the electorate is open to considering an independent. However, if that is true, then why aren’t more of them supporting a super-popular LG over what the polls claims are two not-so-well-regarded major party candidates? Even after a campaign, Bolling isn’t going to have a better image among what he claims is already a big chunk of the electorate.

Thus, my question: Why did Bolling’s Boys manipulate the poll this way, with results that raise real questions among political experts? The reason I ask this: If they really want this poll to be taken seriously by serious students of the game, then the poll results suggest he has NO WAY TO WIN despite his using the poll to claim the precise opposite.

Most importantly: The normal thing to do with a poll of this kind is to hold a hypothetical three-way horse race, after you give all those voters being interviewed certain facts about three candidates. In a sense, you run the campaign in the “laboratory”; you give those being interviewed the kinds of facts on the candidates and positions which your campaign would hope to be able to get across to voters during the campaign.

Call it a simulation, a computer game that plays out the campaign to see how the mathematical model would predict the outcome if everything goes as programmed. All the pollsters did, apparently, was to ask a question, based on what people know now, as to their choice in a three-way race. That makes no sense at all.

Fact: Again, the purpose of a poll at this point is to test the best Bolling case in terms of how a campaign would go from their point of view.  They would lay out the Cuccinelli case, the McAuliffe case, and their Bolling case. They would tell the pluses and minuses of the candidates as the Bolling camp would hope the campaign would go.

Then, after you run the simulation, you ask the same interviewees the horse race question a second time, to see how their minds changed if at all. This is called the re-vote. Bolling either didn’t do that – unlikely – or the results were such that even he didn’t have the nerve to put out pretend numbers.

Bottom line: Bolling’s pollster did do the simulation, and he found that no matter what, Bolling can’t possibly win. At best he can be a spoiler. Who would he hurt in the end? From the numbers we were given – and again, they are manipulated so take them for what they are worth – it isn’t all that clear to me what Bolling would mean in the end. Conventional wisdom says he hurts Cuccinelli, probably enough to defeat the K-man in a close race. But that isn’t clear from the Bolling poll.

Thus, I ask again: What the heck is Bolling up to with this poll? Fleece unsuspecting big donors who may want to stop either K-man or T-Man?

My guess: Bolling is taking aim at McAuliffe more than he is claiming publicly. Democrats think Bolling is some kind of magic charm. I am very suspicious of that. Bolling despises Cuccinelli, we know that. But he has been no friend of Democrats for years. In my mind, he is trying to set up a claim that for some reason – to be announced by him at some point in the not to distant future – he believes McAuliffe can’t beat Cuccinelli, or at least that it will be too close.

Bolling isn’t playing straight with anyone right now given these polling stats. By failing to release any re-vote numbers – the logical thing to do to show he could win a three way race if he had the money to get his “message” out both on himself and his opponents – this tells me a lot. It is an omission that could not have been accidental.

Bolling has essentially admitted that the best he can be is a spoiler in three way race. Such an admission makes no sense at this juncture. So precisely why he manipulated the stats the way he did is a mystery to me.  

  • Why do I say this? Simple: check this out:

    The tidal wave of anti-debt, anti-big-government voters that swamped Democrats in the 2010 congressional elections is readying itself again, poised to sweep Mitt Romney into the Oval Office, some political observers say.

    “It’s very, very likely,” veteran Republican campaign pollster John McLaughlin said, p
    redicting a Romney tsunami Tuesday.

    “Romney has surged in all the target states,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “The undecided vote is not really undecided. They overwhelmingly disapprove of the job the president has done and will largely vote against the incumbent. It’s a hidden vote that will vote against the president.”

    His prediction flies in the face of most polling, which shows a tight national race between Mr. Romney and President Obama, and state polls that show Mr. Obama leading in most battlegrounds…

    ...Mr. McLaughlin, the GOP pollster, said he sees that same enthusiasm for Republicans boiling beneath pollsters’ sights this year – and so do some leaders of the tea party, which harnessed voters’ resentment against spending and government expansion.

    In other words, this guy is an utterly worthless, Republican hack. The fact that Bill Bolling hired him, and is actually touting his “poll” (using the word VERY loosely) results, says a great deal about Bolling, none of it good. Total #FAIL for Bolling, although if Chamber of Commerce-style Republican donors are dumb enough to believe it, well…I guess there’s a sucker born every minute?

  • FreeDem

    >>There is no way Bolling is known well enough to have 55% offer a definite opinion, must less have a 44-11 positive/negative split, which is 4-1, an amazing number. NO WAY. It is a totally manipulated number either due to the poll question, or to outright data manipulation.

    PPP poll from January:

    The most popular potential candidate in terms of net favorability is Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Only 45% of voters have an opinion about him, but among those who do 29% see him favorably to only 16% with an unfavorable opinion.

    http://www.publicpolicypolling

    What’s the real gap between 55% to 45% when you take into consideration that Bolling has probably had the best press ever these last few months as he’s explored an independent bid. Not to mention any reasonable margin of error.

    His favorable-unfavorable numbers were pretty damn good back in January, and the recent media frenzy certainly has helped.

    I think you need to chill out Paul.

  • FreeDem

    >>Unless roughly 70% of the electorate was basically locked into a partisan vise so tightly that no independent could ever break through.

    I don’t think you understand how politics has changed since, oh, I don’t know, 1989, to just pick a date out at random. Or maybe 1993.

  • demomatic

    Push polling at its best- the real question is why did Bolling #1 make, and #2 release such a poll?

    I think the answer is that Bolling is getting ready for the race. This poll begets a lot of useful third party (independent) press coverage, and if he wasn’t going to run, why would he do it? Just to prove a point?

    Despite the politicos calling bs on his candidacy, for me, it looks like Bolling might just run. . .