Donald Lambro misleadingly cited an old poll conducted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to claim that "polls show" Republican Thomas H. Kean Jr. leads Democrat Robert Menendez by 13 points in the 2006 New Jersey senatorial race. In fact, more recent independent polls show Menendez with a lead.
In a January 3 Washington Times article and again in a January 5 "Commentary" column, Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro used the results of a nearly two-month-old survey commissioned by the Republican party to claim "polls show" that Republican New Jersey state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr. leads Democrat and U.S. Senate-designate Robert Menendez by 13 points in the 2006 New Jersey senatorial race. Lambro's data was apparently based on a survey conducted by a Republican polling group for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) in November 2005 -- a fact he did not disclose to his readers. In fact, more recent, independent polls show Menendez leading Kean among New Jersey voters.
Menendez, a member of Congress representing New Jersey's 13th District, was appointed by Governor-elect Jon S. Corzine to fill Corzine's current U.S. Senate seat for the remainder of his Senate term.
Lambro wrote in his January 3 Times article:
New Jersey polls show Republican state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr., son of the popular former governor, with a 13-point lead over incoming Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, appointed to fill the unexpired term of Jon Corzine, who resigned after he was elected governor.
In his January 5 "Commentary" column for the Times, Lambro wrote:
Right now, in fact, polls show Republican state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr., son of the popular former governor, with a 13-point lead over Robert Menendez, the Democratic congressman Mr. Corzine named to fill the rest of his unexpired term. Other Democrats are about to jump in the race, raising the likelihood of a divisive party primary, while Republicans are energized and united behind Mr. Kean's candidacy.
Lambro was apparently referring to a poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates for the NRSC from November 13-15, 2005, which showed Kean leading Menendez 31 percent to 18 percent. The poll asked 300 "likely voters": "If the election for U.S. senator were held today, who would you vote for between Tom Kean Jr., the Republican, and Bob Menendez, the Democrat?" McLaughlin & Associates is headed by CEO John McLaughlin, a "strategic consultant and pollster" whose bio lists campaigns he has worked for -- all Republican -- and partner Jim McLaughlin, who "was one of only two Republican pollsters named as a part of Roll Call newspaper's Fabulous Fifty for his work as the NRCC's [National Republican Congressional Committee] lead pollster in their successful campaign to retain the GOP majority in Congress."
More recent independent polls show very different results from those of the partisan NRSC survey. A Quinnipiac University poll conducted December 10-13 asked 689 registered voters: "If the 2006 election for United States senator were being held today and the candidates were Robert Menendez the Democrat and Tom Kean Jr. the Republican, for whom would you vote?" Forty-four percent favored Menendez, compared with Kean's 38 percent; the previous month's Quinnipiac poll showed Menendez leading Kean 41 percent to 39 percent. A Rasmussen survey of 500 "likely voters" conducted December 7 showed Menendez leading Kean 38 percent to 34 percent.
Lambro's misleading citation of polling data is nothing new. Media Matters for America has exposed Lambro inaccurately citing exit poll data from the 2004 presidential election; selectively citing poll data to claim that Democrats "aren't doing any better" in the polls than Republicans; and twisting data from an already flawed poll to suggest that Americans favor remaining in Iraq.