Discredited pollster Luntz lectured Kerry on “credibility”

Appearing on FOX News Channel on October 15, discredited pollster Frank Luntz suggested that, despite Senator John Kerry's strong performance in the presidential debates, Kerry was unable to “shift” votes to his favor because voters “don't trust him” and he lacks “credibility.” But Luntz appears to have his own credibility problem: On the same day he made those remarks, London's Financial Times published a “Comment” article he wrote making the exact opposite argument about the impact of the presidential debates on the election.

Here's what Luntz said on the October 15 edition of FOX News Channel's Hannity & Colmes:

LUNTZ: What's interesting, and I want to go back briefly to the debates, is that, in a lot of the work that we did among swing voters, uncommitted voters -- because I believe that everyone now has a commitment, they have decided -- they may have said that John Kerry, quote, “won,” unquote, the debate, but it didn't shift their vote.

They may say that John Kerry speaks better, but they still don't trust him. And in the end, that's where this is going to come down to, an issue of credibility.

And here's what Luntz wrote in the Financial Times on October 15:

If John Kerry is elected the 44th president, it will be because of a single night in Miami, when he came to debate and Mr. Bush came to -- well, no one is quite sure. The double-digit lead that Gallup polls, long considered the authority for presidential polling, gave Mr. Bush after the Republican convention was fully erased by that fateful 90-minute confrontation.

Step by step, debate by debate, John Kerry has addressed and removed many remaining doubts among uncommitted voters. My own polling research suggests a rather bleak outlook for the Bush candidacy: many who still claim to be “undecided” are leaning to Mr. Kerry and are about ready to commit.

As Media Matters for America has extensively documented, Luntz's credibility has been a recurring issue. In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research reprimanded Luntz for his polling work on the Republican Party's 1994 Contract with America campaign platform, according to a Salon.com article. Similarly, The Washington Post's website reported that the National Council of Public Polls “censured pollster Frank Luntz for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention.” Shortly after MSNBC's decision to drop him from its debate coverage -- following a letter from Media Matters for America -- Luntz falsely claimed that he has “done no GOP work since 2001.”

On Hannity & Colmes, Luntz later made the assertion, without any evidence whatsoever to support it, that Democrats have illegally registered dead people to vote: "[D]ead people vote Democrat over Republican by about ten to one." Luntz continued to attack Kerry's “credibility”: “When you don't trust someone, then no matter what they say, even if they communicate well, if you don't trust them, if you doubt their integrity, it is a problem.”