Is Tommy Surging Or Did The Poll Stink
In mid- September, a Marquette University Law School poll contended that Tammy Baldwin led Tommy Thompson in their race for the U.S. Senate by a margin of 50% to 41%. This represented an 18 point swing from the poll's August numbers and has been widely touted as gospel by the mainstream media for the last couple of weeks.
So, is Tommy surging or did the original poll stink?
Actually, it's a trick question: the answer is "to a degree, yes" and " definitely yes".
First, the September poll did stink. The pollsters grossly over sampled Democratic voters and came out with numbers inconsistent with other polls and with common sense. It's disappointing that when presented with an obviously screwy sample, they didn't simply start over in an effort to either confirm or deny their numbers.
It's also disappointing that instead of simply acknowledging a bad sample, the guy running the poll is standing behind his bogus numbers. His explanation for the narrowing of the race? Independents are shifting!
I guess it's possible that independents could have shifted enough to move the race 5 points in a couple of weeks. It's much more likely though that the race was never a 9 point race to begin with.
By the way, while it's more realistic, I don't think this is a 4 point race either. Instead of sampling 11% more Democrats, this month's poll "only" had a 7% Democrat bias (including "leaners"). Find a representative sample and my guess is that this race is about even.
Still, I don't think there's any question that momentum is on Thompson's side.
Baldwin's performance at last Friday's debate was, to say the least, under whelming. Plus, now that the Thompson campaign and some outside groups are starting to hammer on Baldwin's record (like this and this), I look for any advantage Baldwin gained from two months of ultra-negative advertising to pretty much disappear.
So, is Thompson surging? Well, the campaign is certainly picking up momentum at just the right time.
And, did the September poll that claimed Thompson was behind by 9 points stink? Absolutely!