Saturday, December 29, 2007

Novak’s Mystery Poll

Veteran Washington insider Robert Novak has been touting—both in his blog and on the Fox News Channel--a “private corporate interest” poll that shows Romney in the lead in Iowa, ahead of Mike Huckabee by 4 points at 30 to 26%. I find it quite interesting that in an era in which political polling has become such a competitive industry, that anyone should put any stock in a private ‘no-name’ poll leaked out to the public through a veteran reporter who could be trusted not to reveal his source.

So who is Novak’s source? More importantly, who commissioned the poll and why was it leaked out anonymously?

Conventional wisdom dictates that the first question to ask in solving this mystery is:
Who benefits?
Answer: Obviously, Mitt Romney.
Next question: What organization has the kind of financial resources to conduct such a large survey (15,000 Iowans)?
Answer: Obviously, the Romney campaign.
That leads to another key question: If the Romney campaign commissioned a legitimate poll that showed their own candidate overtaking the front-runner, why would they not shout it from the rooftops with all the credentials of the people who did the polling, rather than trading on the name of widely read leaker?
Answer: It’s not a reliable poll. It’s a poll designed to move public opinion in a certain direction, rather than to provide an accurate reflection of existing opinion. In other words, it’s just a sophisticated form of push polling.

Further evidence of this is the way Novak described the poll himself in his Fox News Channel appearance last night, when he spoke of the results of “the poll, for what it’s worth”. For what it’s worth?! Now isn’t that interesting, that even Novak himself is not willing to say that he either knows or has good reason to believe that the poll was scientifically conducted at all. If it turns out to be a phoney, so what? It’s no skin off Novak’s back. He’s just the messenger.

As Mike Huckabee has said, presidential campaigning is a “full contact sport”. And that includes many tactics that are not what they seem.

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