Beware of campaigns 'leaking' poll numbers | Wis.Community

Beware of campaigns 'leaking' poll numbers

Beware of campaigns bearing polls.

Just when you thought there was nothing more unreliable than a Rasmussen poll, Scott Walker's campaign issues a memo saying Walker's 20 points ahead in the primary. Other private polls have it much closer, almost a dead heat.

Of course, the one-page memo tells nothing else about the poll results, the question that was asked, or even the cross-tabs on the head-to-head it touts.

Let's hope against hope that the news media does not start reporting this sort of unsubstantiated spin from the campaigns themselves.

What Wisconsin needs is a reliable, independent poll done by a media outlet or some other public interest group that has no axe to grind and doesn't favor any candidate. Many other states, from Iowa to California, have them, but Wisconsin is left at the mercy of anyone who can type a press release.

In 20 years of working on campaigns, I can't recall ever leaking or issuing a poll done for the campaign, despite media inquiries. Polls are done for internal campaign purposes, for strategic reasons, and it serves no purpose to share the information you've paid dearly for with your opponents.

Of course, in those days media outlets wouldn't report on a poll unless you gave them the whole thing, not selective bits and pieces.

This is just one more casualty of the decline of newspapers -- although some Wisconsin TV stations also used to sponsor independent polls, and those have ceased, too.

We'd all be better off if the campaign could just play out and we could all be surprised on election day. But as long as the media succumb to the polling spin of candidates, that's not likely to happen.

Let's see how many news outlets are willing to report Walker's hype.


June 7, 2010 - 6:09pm