Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Spin on Lefty Poll Can't Get Past Fact that Colorado Senate Race is Toss-Up

Need a sign of the times for the U.S. Senate campaign for Boulder liberal Rep. Mark Udall? The reliably Left-leaning Colorado Confidential site today is touting a new poll conducted by Research for Change, Inc., run by a "lifelong Democrat" who "provides research and strategy for progressive causes and political campaigns." (Not that these easily discoverable facts are mentioned in the story.)

The big news? Udall leads Republican Bob Schaffer among women and independent voters. Wow, that's different. What about the bigger picture?:
A new survey of likely Colorado voters shows Democrat Mark Udall, candidate for U.S. Senate, with a 2-percentage point lead over his Republican opponent, Bob Schaffer.

"The Schaffer people would call it a virtual tie, and the Udall people would call it a slim lead," said Mark Mehringer, of Research for Change, Inc., the group that conducted the poll.

What crafty advocacy journalism in the story's lead. Do the poll results actually show "a virtual tie" or "a slim lead"? Rather than sharing what can be determined as an objective fact, the writer casually assigns differing opinions to the two campaigns via the quote of a Left-liberal pollster. The inability to distinguish fact from opinion, a tenet in the church of relativism, appears to have crippled the Left's capacity for any basic, honest analysis.

To arbitrate the question, the story could have included the standard disclaimer about the survey's statistical margin of error, but failed to do so. Nevertheless, it's safe to assume that any sample of 500 Colorado voters yields a margin of error somewhat greater than 2 percentage points. Nor does the story give the actual percentages (Is it 42 to 40? 47 to 45? 36 to 34?).

But perhaps we trifle over small things. It's a hard to say, though, as none of the details of the alleged poll's cross-tabs are available. Readers are, however, spoon-fed selective pieces of data such as:

Udall holds a 17 percentage point lead in his own congressional district. But more curiously, Udall is only trailing Schaffer by 2 percentage points in Tancredo's heavily Republican sixth district.
No word on how big Schaffer's lead might be in his own former congressional district. Perhaps that factoid would throw a wrench into the message Colorado Confidential is trying to push.

But ultimately, that message is weak, as even the Left's propaganda machine can't twist reality enough to change the clear conventional wisdom that next year's U.S. Senate race is currently a Toss-Up. Back in April, Colorado Confidential's Jason Bane was busy touting the then-prevailing analysis that "Udall will enter the general election as the favorite." The trend of eight months in this campaign has really got the Left busy lowering its once high expectations for their favorite liberal son from Boulder.

So let's recap: A poll commissioned by Left wing groups finds that their once sureshot candidate is in a statistical dead heat and can only spin it that he still leads among groups in which he has already been leading. But no context of previous polls in the Schaffer-Udall race.

Nice try, Colorado Confidential. Keep lowering the expectations for Udall. But it's hard to hide the past.

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