Lambro misrepresented polling data to attack Democrats -- again

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro claimed that pollsters "are seeing deep dissatisfaction across the country at just about every level of government," and that "[w]hile neither party can take solace in the [poll] numbers, there may be some perverse comfort for Republicans in the fact that many of the Democrats' biggest gubernatorial stars have run into political trouble." To support his claim, Lambro cited polls conducted by Republican-linked polling groups without identifying them as such.

In his March 30 "Commentary" column, Washington Times chief political correspondent Donald Lambro claimed that pollsters "are seeing deep dissatisfaction across the country at just about every level of government," and that "[w]hile neither party can take solace in the [poll] numbers, there may be some perverse comfort for Republicans in the fact that many of the Democrats' biggest gubernatorial stars have run into political trouble." To support his claim, Lambro cited polls conducted by Republican-linked polling groups without identifying them as such; additionally, he mischaracterized one of those polls as "independent."

Lambro's March 30 column represents just the latest example of his consistent misuse and misrepresentation of polling data to attack Democrats and falsely claim public support for Republican issues and politicians.

Lambro wrote:

While neither party can take solace in the numbers, there may be some perverse comfort for Republicans in the fact that many of the Democrats' biggest gubernatorial stars have run into political trouble.

"A perfect example is Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire of Washington state, whose disapproval level is at 54 percent, with only 38 percent approving of the job she is doing," said David Johnson of Strategic Vision, an independent Atlanta-based polling firm that has been surveying voters around the country.

Typical of many states, Mr. Johnson said Washington voters aren't pleased with their legislature, either. "Their approval rating is in the 40s," he said.

Far from being "independent," Strategic Vision is a Republican polling firm. Johnson, the company's founder and CEO, worked on former Sen. Bob Dole's (R-KS) 1988 presidential campaign. Johnson's personal website -- which identifies Johnson at the top as a "Republican conservative" -- further notes that while working "at Associated Industries of Florida, he assisted in the development of the association's political operations department that played a pivotal role in Republicans capturing the State Senate in 1994 and State House in 1996." Johnson was also involved in Republican Florida governor Jeb Bush's first gubernatorial campaign. Most media outlets identify Strategic Vision as a "Republican polling company," such as a March 13 Philadelphia Inquirer article. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted on March 12 that Strategic Vision "has a Republican history," and the company's hometown paper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, noted in a March 13 article that the "polling firm lists to the GOP side."

Moreover, Johnson's claim that Gregoire has a 38-percent approval rating is not reflected in other, independent polling. According to the March 28 edition of National Journal's "The Hotline," a March 10-12 poll conducted by SurveyUSA put Gregoire's approval rating at 47 percent, and her disapproval rating at 46 percent.

Lambro went on to write:

Here's a sampling of what else he [Johnson] and other pollsters have found:

[...]

Michigan: Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm, whose state has been suffering from 6.2 percent unemployment, has seen her anemic approval polls rise slightly from 47 percent to 49 percent, but she still draws a nearly 40 percent disapproval score.

Miss Granholm barely clings to a 2 percent lead (43 percent to 41 percent) over her GOP rival, business executive Rich DeVos, according to a recent Marketing Resource Group poll.

With General Motors eliminating thousands of jobs in the state, 3 out of 4 voters now say Michigan is moving in the wrong direction, MRG's poll found.

That sets up the state for a possible GOP pickup, but voters disapprove of the Republican legislature by 51 percent to 40 percent, too.

Lambro failed to note that Marketing Resource Group (MRG) identifies itself as "Michigan's premier Republican full-service political-consulting firm." An Educational, Political, Industrial and Consumer Market Research Analysis (EPIC-MRA) poll conducted March 5-8 indicated that 50 percent of respondents thought Granholm is doing an "excellent" or "pretty good" job as governor. When asked: "If the election were held today and the candidates were Jennifer Granholm the Democrat and Dick DeVos the Republican, which candidate would you vote for: Granholm or DeVos?" 51 percent chose Granholm, compared to the 41 percent that chose DeVos - a considerably wider margin than the 2-point difference in the MRG poll.

Media Matters for America has identified numerous instances in which Lambro has twisted, misused, or misrepresented poll data. He inaccurately cited exit poll data from the 2004 presidential election to claim 70 percent of voters believe the government should not do more to "solve problems;" he selectively cited poll data to falsely claim Democrats "aren't doing any better" in the polls than Republicans; he twisted data from an already flawed poll to suggest that "Americans want to finish what we've started" in Iraq; and he cited a months-old GOP poll -- without identifying it as such -- to falsely claim that "polls show" Republican New Jersey state Sen. Thomas H. Kean Jr. leading Democrat and U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez by 13 points in the 2006 New Jersey senatorial race (more recent independent polls showed Menendez in the lead).

Network/Outlet
The Washington Times
Person
Donald Lambro
Stories/Interests
Polling
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.