Why is Scott McInnis Making So Much Hay of Early Obvious Poll Results?

What does it say about a primary candidate that his two primary messages seem to be:

  1. The incumbent is wrong; and
  2. I’m ahead in the polls.

Well, those are the messages I’m getting from the Scott McInnis for governor campaign. The first message is obvious: no complaints there. The point to ponder is why #2 is one of the primary messages .

It isn’t surprising to any serious political observer that the former 3rd District Congressman has greater name recognition than his rivals. So why keep touting two polls — at least one of them commissioned by the McInnis campaign — that say exactly that?

Perhaps so there’s something to talk about other than the candidate’s recent interview chronicles.

But it gets a bit weirder. Yesterday afternoon I received a fundraising email from the McInnis campaign titled “Significant Lead in Latest Polls” that declared:

Our campaign is leading the governor by a margin of eight points in a general election contest, and my GOP opponent by 21 points in a primary contest according to the latest polls, released late last week by Public Policy Polling, an independent non-partisan polling organization in NC….

Based on this new independent non-partisan polling data, it is clear that Coloradoans are ready to elect a pro-jobs governor! [emphases added]

Public Policy Polling (PPP) certainly is independent. But what does the descriptor non-partisan mean in relation to a survey company? In this case the claim is highly dubious. PPP’s president Dean Debnam is widely recognized as a major Democratic donor. His staff all have Democratic ties.

And national political expert Stuart Rothenberg noted a couple months ago in Roll Call:

Recently, Republicans have started complaining long and hard about polling conducted this cycle by Public Policy Polling in the Tar Heel State. They note, quite correctly, that PPP is a Democratic polling firm and that too many reporters fail to note their partisan bent. GOP insiders also complain about the firm’s sample, arguing that it often is too urban and too Democratic, and that its surveys understate Burr’s strength and his prospects for re-election.

If readers don’t know that PPP is a Democratic firm, they are reading the wrong publications. At the Rothenberg Political Report, we’ve regarded PPP as a Democratic firm, and identified it as such, since it has been around. In February, Roll Call reporter John McArdle wrote a lengthy article about PPP, calling it “a Democratic firm based in Raleigh” and referring to the company’s “controversial” methodology. National Journal’s Hotline also identifies PPP as a Democratic firm, as does the News & Observer (Raleigh). [emphased added]

I’m not sure that information casts doubt on the results of the poll per se, but it does make you wonder why the McInnis campaign twice in the same brief email went out of its way to declare PPP as independent and non-partisan. They doth protest too much methinks.

So what does it say that McInnis and crew so early in the game spending sums on polling data to overblow an obvious (but not terribly meaningful) fact about which candidate’s name is more recognized? And why go out of their way to tout results from a Democratic firm as non-partisan?

Because the Scott McInnis campaign likely recognizes that an unfolding primary contest focused on important issues and the respective candidates’ leadership and vision for the future favors Josh Penry. I wouldn’t exactly say the early hyper-emphasis on polling bespeaks desperation on McInnis’ part, but the former Congressman definitely is a lot more comfortable playing to his narrow strength as a candidate: his name recognition.


  1. says

    I’m already becoming uneasy about Scott’s tendency to avoid talking about real issues. He seems to be favoring silly things like promising to bring jobs to Colorado. Every candidate promises that. How about some details?

    It may be early in the campaign, but first impressions count, and Scott’s not making a good first impression, imho.

  2. Chuck says

    My sense is that McGinnis did not poll grassroots and Republican assembly goers because he does not poll very well among the conservative rank and file members of the party. I believe that he is attempting to use the the polls among more moderate members of the party in hopes that it persuades conservatives to support McGinnis.

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