Post Poll Hiding Its Hole Cards?

The Washington Post poll is out today. When the attacks on its credibility started a day or two ago on Republican blogs, I had a feeling it would be really bad news for Kilgore. It shows a three point lead for Kaine, within the margin of error, similar to earlier polls from other sources showing Kaine up a bit, and no surprise given the Post’s history of oversampling Democrats. Main message: what we’ve always suspected — a tight race.

One thing is missing though — the summary sheet. With the September poll, a full summary of the Post results was provided. That is still linked as a sidebar to this story, but we don’t have the October results to put beside it. Perhaps with some prodding they will post it. (Update note: And perhaps they are waiting to do a story on some of the other questions before they do.)

Lacking that data, and having set that standard of disclosure themselves, there is reason to treat this poll with more than usual skepticism. As you should treat EVERYTHING that appears in the newspapers, in new TV ads and on these blogs (where everybody always tells the truth!) between now and 7 p.m. on November 8. After Halloween things start going bump in the night.

Update! The Post has put up the background info, with one page missing for tomorrow’s story (probably.) Thanks, guys.


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  1. Jim Bacon Avatar

    No surprise, Ken Hutcheson, Kilgore’s campaign manager, is blasting the Washington Post poll. I pass on this information for what it’s worth.

    First, Hutcheson notes, the WaPo has shortchanged Republican performance in the last thre gubernatorial contensts by an average of 6.6 points. If that pattern holds true, Kilgore will come out ahead of Kaine.

    Second, Hutcheson says, it appears that the WaPo poll has significantly under-represented voters in Kilgore-leaning SW Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.

    Third, the WaPo poll was conducted on Sunday through Wednesday of the past week, during which the Redskins were playing a home game televised across the state, the Martinsville NASCAR race was being televised and many families were in church.

    Of course, the Rasmussen poll shows Kaine with a slight lead. And all polls seem to indicate that Kaine has the momentum, narrowing the lead, or pulling ahead, as the campaign has worn on.

    I don’t see any counter-analysis on Kaine’s website. It may be posted later.

  2. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I agree–skepticism should be the word of each day until Nov. 8th.

    The Kaine campaign has done a wonderful job of creating a sense “momentum” over the last few weeks without really doing anything except reacting to and spinning Kilgore’s ads. It’s hard to say whether they have created something substantive or just reinforced an elite media narrative.

    We’ll see. The potential dangers for Kaine are that either he’s peaked too soon or won’t have time to react to some new Kilgore issue. The danger for Kilgore is that he won’t be able to summon something new to reverse his perceived slide.

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Seems like the typical head in the sand approach here. Looked at SUSA? Looked at Rasmussen? Both of those have shown double-digit moves by Kaine over the past few months, where he’s now got the lead.

    Who knows, maybe the M-D poll is right, and if it was just the WaPo poll, then OK, you got a case.

    But what about SUSA & Ras– the latter who called the race spot on in ’01.

  4. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    In fairness, it occured to me the Post may be holding its report on the full results because it will have future stories on other questions — the down ticket races being the most likely. Maybe tomorrow. Reading Hutch’s e-mail he apparently has seen it, but I’d like to see it myself.

    “Mo” matters, and the first thing they teach baby campaign geeks in campaign geek school is that politics is all about perception, not reality. A public perception of a dead heat race usually has a big impact on turnout. If the conventional wisdom proves flawed, that may be where it will be.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    Here’s the Real Clear Politics site with the Post results now included.

    One of the six most recent polls disagrees, but who’s numbers go up when Kilgore’s goes down? I’ll give you a hint, it isn’t Kaine.

  6. Mitch Cumstein Avatar
    Mitch Cumstein

    I’ve contended from day one that Potts would take votes from Kilgore and not Kaine. Looks like some of the polls are starting to show just that.

  7. Third, the WaPo poll was conducted on Sunday through Wednesday of the past week, during which the Redskins were playing a home game televised across the state, the Martinsville NASCAR race was being televised and many families were in church.

    Yeah, ’cause we all know Democrats never attend NASCAR meets, or watch Football, or go to Bible study or choir practice. Dream on.

  8. Anonymous Avatar

    “First, Hutcheson notes, the WaPo has shortchanged Republican performance in the last thre gubernatorial contensts by an average of 6.6 points. If that pattern holds true, Kilgore will come out ahead of Kaine.”

    I’m sure when the Gate City results come in, the zombie vote will overwhelmingly favor Kilgore. 🙂

  9. Anonymous Avatar

    Also of note would be the clear TREND that has taken place.

    Ken can say what he wants.

    The reality is that Kilgore and crew have blown a 10-point lead.

  10. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Now that the Post poll summary is up on its website, a couple of very fast observations.

    The sample is slightly more Democratic than the “likely voter” sample of September’s poll, by the Post’s own measure (47 percent this time vs. 44 percent last time.) And you can really see a sample variation on the question about abortion being legal (61 percent this time vs. 54 percent last time.) That opinion in Virginia did not move seven points in one month.

    Likewise the death penalty is supported by 72 percent in this sample, 75 percent in the last one. Maybe the Stanley ads and surrounding flap did that, but I doubt it. Its a sample variation. This of course is why they always calculate a margin of error on these things.

    On the downside for Kilgore, even with the sample variation (which is not unusual in these polls) his negatives are up and by strong margins voters see his campaign as more negative than Kaine’s. Virginia is seen going in the “right direction” (70 percent) while the rest of the country is going in the “wrong direction” (64 percent.)

  11. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    FYI — it is now Tuesday morning and the other shoe of the Post poll has not dropped. There remains a blank page on the summary sheet posted. If they have numbers on the AG and LG race, they are holding them for some reason. Whatever they have is getting very stale. The first interviews were Oct. 23, now nine days ago. I gotta wonder why they are holding them — and whether it is fair to publish them now that they are stale.

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