Is polling any more than a murky crystal ball or tea leaves to be interpreted? Can polls be skewed to the advantage of one candidate over another? Are some polls slanted to help a candidate who is in deep debt to show viability so people will donate to his or her failing campaign or to depress voters that a race is “over before it has begun” so voters stay home on Election Day? The answer to all of the above questions is a resounding yes.
Michele Bachmann’s House race in Minnesota’s District 6 is a perfect example of how polling can be all over the map. Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball does not even list the race as competitive, categorizing it as “Safe Republican.” In fact, the race is not even on his list of races to watch. But, an internal poll conducted last week by Democratic DC pollsters Greenberg Quinlan Rosner at the request of Bachmann’s Democrat opponent Jim Graves shows the race within the margin of error with a 20-point (over two months) net shift toward the Democrat with independents.
“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” and if money alone wins a race, Bachmann should have no trouble retaining her seat. She is among the top fundraisers in Congress. The most recent campaign finance report showed Bachmann with $2.2 million cash on hand and her opponent, Graves with $351,000 cash on hand ($250,000 of which had been loaned to his own campaign since March). A truer test will be to see what the next report shows. Then we’ll see if the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) infused record amounts of cash into his campaign. If it hasn’t, then it can be inferred that the DCCC has basically written off the race.
Incumbency has its advantages, too, and one of those significant benefits is higher name identification. A recent St. Cloud Times article noted that Bachmann (due to her incumbency and Presidential bid) had 99% name recognition, whereas her opponent had only 38% name ID. It appears that he would have to win over a significant number of not only Independents but also Republicans to have a chance to beat her. It would help if they knew his name.
Because the Left views Bachmann as a gaffe-prone extremist with her outspoken remarks and conservative stances, they would love to see a competitive race, which may explain the polling figures done by Graves’ campaign. Bachmann still attracts media and not just because of her gaffes. She garners large crowds to her events, and is a highly sought-after expert, who sits on the House Select Committee on Intelligence. She is the darling of the Tea Party and conservative Republicans nationally. According to the St. Cloud Times article, redistricting actually made Minnesota Congressional District 6 a little more conservative, which should benefit Bachmann.
All of which serves as a reminder that polls are a snapshot in time, and nothing more. The only poll that really matters is on November 6.
Palladian View is a digital magazine published by Karen Floyd for the conservative woman.