Connecticut polticos and voters in general can be excused if they view public opinion polls a bit more critically following the August 10th primaries. The day before the elections, the generally accepted poll-of-record, the esteemed Quinnipiac University poll reported that the race between Democrats Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont “too close to call” with Lamont leading by three points—a statistical tie since it was within the margin of error. As we all know now, Malloy dropped the metaphorical gloves like Dave Schultz and hammered Lamont by 16 points.
In the same poll, Republican Tom Foley led rival Mike Fedele by eight points (he won by three) and has Republican US Senate candidate Linda McMahon running away from the field. In the narrative accompanying the poll, director Doug Schwartz said, “The Democratic governor’s race between Ned Lamont and Dan Malloy is too close to call [is wasn’t] and the Republican governor’s race between Tom Foley and Lt. Gov. Mike Fedele could produce a surprise [it didn’t, other than the margin]. In the Republican Senate contest, it looks like Rob Simmons would need more than a surprise; he would need a miracle to catch Linda McMahon. But in politics, miracles do happen.” Real insightful, eh? What exactly does that mean? The Blessed Mother might appear in some form on ballots imploring voters to voters to fill in the Simmons oval? Or will John the Baptist appear in the bowl of Dinty Moore beef stew Simmons had for lunch to tell him he will win?
The Shad has never been a fan of Schwartz’ spin on his own polls; he often reads into them trends favoring one subject of the poll of another when they were simply and only his opinion. He was a lapdog of soon-to-be-former Gov. Jodi Rell and her henchwoman Lisa Moody, going so far as to release the results of at least poll to the governor’s office a day before the public saw it—an inexcusable act on which all three, Rell, Moody and Schwartz, skated.
Yet Schwartz’ fairly inaccurate poll should not be confused with the ridiculous website polls run by radio talk show hosts and the like. They’re fine and they’re fun as long as those running them make it clear they are non-scientific and don’t necessarily reflect the general public’s views. A good example of this are the “polls” run by popular talk show host Jim Vicevich of WTIC-AM. Vicevich is “good radio” as those in the business say, because he has good ratings and therefore, plenty of sponsors.
But just the other day, Vicevich ran a “poll” asking his listeners, “Can Linda McMahon beat Richard Blumenthal in the race for US Senate?” First, it’s a silly question. Of course she can beat him; she’s on the ballot. Secondly, it’s a poll of his listeners. Something like 75% of those responding on Vicevich’s website said, “Yes, McMahon can beat Blumenthal.” Vicevich portrayed the “poll” as if it carried some sort of credibility. All it means is that McMahon has “the angry, white retiree who listens to the Vicevich radio show” vote locked up. I don’t think that means much. Of course, I don’t have a Ph. D. so you better ask Doug Schwartz. Or better yet, Gov. Rell.