This is yesterday’s news that I didn’t have time to blog about yesterday, but it’s such strange behavior that I can’t resist. It’s weird enough to release the results of an internal, month-old poll in the middle of summer. It’s even weirder to refuse to release any details about the poll – Team Brown wouldn’t even supply the questions. And it’s of course an added bonus that this is the same polling outfit – Public Opinion Strategies, which goes by the hilariously painful acronym POS – that repeatedly showed Charlie Baker either way ahead or in a dead heat for Governor, while most real pollsters (including Suffolk, which absolutely nailed the race) consistently showed Deval Patrick holding a 6-8 point lead throughout the race.
Here’s how the Globe’s Glen Johnson aptly summed up the situation:
The survey, conducted a month ago by Public Opinion Strategies on behalf of the Brown campaign and the National Republican Senatorial Committee, featured interviews with 500 likely 2012 voters.
The headlines of the reported results were provided to the Globe and several Washington news organizations by a top Brown adviser as Democrats debate whether former Obama administration aide Elizabeth Warren should enter next year’s Senate Democratic primary campaign.
The Brown campaign refused to release the poll’s underlying questions, demographic breakdown, or overall results. The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.38 percentage points.
The same firm, Public Opinion Strategies, released a poll before last year’s gubernatorial election showing the Democratic incumbent, Deval Patrick, losing to his GOP challenger, Charles Baker, by a margin of 42 percent to 35 percent.
That poll came after an impartial Suffolk University/Channel 7 poll found the opposite result. It had Patrick leading the race, with 46 percent of the vote, compared with 39 percent for Baker.
Patrick ended up beating Baker 48 percent to 42 percent.
That’s good reporting, IMHO. Gives you the facts, along with the context necessary to assess them.
In contrast, look at Joe Dwinell and Hillary Chabot’s breathless take on the same poll, as published in the Herald:
Would-be challengers take note: New polling data out this morning shows U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is more popular today than when he was elected.
Brown’s favorability rating now stands at 62 percent — 6 points higher than when he was elected in January of 2010, according to a poll released by Public Opinion Strategies. The poll was commissioned by the National Republican Senatorial Committee…. The poll touts Brown’s everyman’s status, but pushes for fundraising dollars in light of likely Dem attacks.
No mention that the poll is a month old. No mention of POS’s wretched record in recent MA races. It’s not even especially clear that the poll is an internal. Pathetic. To be fair, the Herald did publish another story the next day – by a different reporter (Chris Cassidy) – that belatedly supplied some useful context.
Democrats couldn’t resist harking back to a similar Public Opinion Strategies poll last fall showing Charlie Baker with a seven-point lead over Gov. Deval Patrick just three weeks before the election.
“I hope that Scott Brown’s Republican pollster can tell us how Gov. Charlie Baker is doing,” Massachusetts Democratic Party spokesman Kevin Franck wisecracked…. The Brown campaign did not release the full poll and declined to comment on the numbers yesterday.
Also, that Herald story had the funniest line of the whole episode:
A state GOP spokesman said Brown is focused on his job in Washington, D.C., and not concerned about next year’s race.
HA! Yeah, that’s no doubt the reason Team Brown leaked a month-old internal poll at the exact moment that people are talking about Elizabeth Warren.
Look, nobody thinks beating Scott Brown will be a walk in the pahk. And, frankly, it would be shocking if any actual or rumored Democratic candidate for Senate, save perhaps Deval Patrick (who, I hasten to add, is not running), would come close to Brown in horserace polling at this point. So I am not at all worried by Brown’s fake poll, or even the real ones that show Brown with pretty good favorables and big leads on potential challengers. I just think it’s funny that Team Brown pulled this peculiar stunt at this time. I think they’re more worried than they like to let on.