View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Thursday, July 22, 2004

Armstrong's Polling Issues 

The Coors campaign has been touting the results of a "push-poll" to bolster its claim of being the front-runner. For those of you who don't know, push-polling is usually telephone polling where the respondent is asked who he is supporting, and then asked follow-up questions like, "If you knew that Bob Schaffer mangled cats in his spare time, would that make you more or less likely to vote for him?" Sometimes, then, at the end, the respondent is again asked whom he supports, and, surprise!, maybe his answer has changed. It basically invalidates the entire polling process, and produces results that are more useful for press releases than for strategy.

Now, it turns out that Bill Armstrong has been using a little manipulative polling of his own to fend off accusations that his anti-Coors ads are hurting the party. According to David Hill, Texas-based Republican pollster,

Over the weekend, Armstrong asked my firm to conduct a poll of Colorado GOP primary voters to see what they think about the whole affair.

We asked voters this question: “Some people say controversial issues like these should not be discussed in Republican primary campaigns because they are divisive and negative; other people say such issues provide information that is helpful to voters in deciding which candidate should be nominated or elected. Which point of view comes closest to your own: Should issues like this be avoided because they are divisive, or should they be discussed to better inform voters?”

• 79 percent of voters said such issues should be discussed.

• 13 percent said they should be avoided.

• 5 percent were unsure.

• 3 percent declined to answer.

Of course, there's a difference between "discussed" and "debated with the seriousness and intensity of a college debating society."

Hill also claims that, "Coors, incredibly, has made a plank of his campaign platform the lowering of the drinking age to 18." As mentioned before, the matter first came up when Bob Schaffer raised the matter of an op-ed that Coors had written several years ago making that argument. Nothing the matter with that. Coors, given the chance to dissemble, chose instead to stand by his position. He doesn't raise the issue much, and it's not a centerpiece of his campaign.

But it is a centerpiece of those 527 ads.

UPDATE: One of the commentors below notes that this, technically, isn't push-polling, and I stand corrected. Armstrong's history here has been an honorable one. Nevertheless, he is deliberately asking about one thing, and using it to respond to something else. Having made one mistake, the 527 ads, he's now compounding it with another.

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