Astute political analysts and pollsters have, for many months now, tagged the American Research Group (ARG) as a Clinton spin factory trolling as a legitimate polling outfit.
I would say that about 40 percent of polls are legitimate. Gallup, Rasmussen Reports, and SurveyUSA are three examples of blue-chip, reliable polling firms. Additionally, there are less well-known polling firms, such as Diageo and PPP, whose track records and methodology are very solid.
However, there is a constellation of smaller polling shops (ARG, Datamar, Insider Advantage) whose combination of consistently atrocious track records, and consistently prominent media fanfare, can only lead one to conclude that they are disinformation outlets marketing spin to the highest bidder. Other firms, such as CBSNYT, seem to be honest, but have been known to employ egregiously shoddy methodology in certain instances. Their track records are accordingly poor.
These smaller firms offer to spike bad news cycles, or accelerate good news cycles, by manufacturing a good poll when the candidate needs some positive coverage.
The media love these kinds of polls because 1) they offer an attention-grabbing headline (much like bogus “studies”); 2) they usually help the media establishment’s favored candidate; 3) it keeps the overall horse-race drama alive, even if, in this case, the Democratic race ended the night of the Potomac Primary, when Obama annihilated Clinton by 25 points in Maryland and Virginia, and still more in DC; and 4) it enhances the perception of media control over the electoral process.
I have already seen a bunch of references that Obama has been “macaca’ed.” Anyone who followed the polling of that race knows that “macaca” had little, if anything to do with Allen’s loss.[*]
Anyway, when I saw the Drudge headline, I immediately pegged the odds of the poll being ARG’s at 85 percent. And so it was.
ARG is an anonymous polling outfit. Not only is its track record atrocious, it does not show its methodology to anyone, and yet it receives enormous media exposure. One blogger did a lot of digging on ARG and what he found was, um, not flattering.
My experience is that polling aggregates are too easily influenced by dubious outliers, of which ARG is only the most egregious and consistent offender, to be very reliable.
Which brings me to another point: the degree to which mainstream media (counting Drudgico as MSM here) tacitly subsidize the Clinton campaign, contrary to the ludicrous CW that the media have treated Obama with such kid gloves.
As a conservative, I am not afraid of Obama because he receives such positive media coverage. The American MSM (contrary to the European MSM) has beaten up Obama, and favored Clinton, by as much as possible. The problem is that there’s no dirt on the guy.
American media have adapted to 55-plus politicians who have stepped over lots of corpses on their way up. The Clintons are the exemplars as well as the masters of the game. But the Clintons, along with the Mark Penn doppeldangers running the McCain campaign, have held too many factors — namely the ability to which voters can be influenced by headlines — fixed for too long.
At best, the Clintons will eke out an 11-point win in Pennsylvania, and then Gore will broker a rich compromise involving a Gore endorsement of Obama. I’m predicting 1) a 4-point win for Clinton in PA, and 2) we will see ARG being quoted as frequently in 2012 as we have for 2008. (As the MSM wonder why it’s going out of business.)
[*] George Allen’s support was always soft, and the erosion accelerated well before “macacagate” happened. It became The Candidate’s Own Stupid Fault that George Allen lost his Senate seat — not the fault of Dick Wadhams’ incompetence or complacency — as told by the MSM narrative.