He’s Baaaaaack

The lefties were all atwitter yesterday over a poll in the MinnPost that purported to show that Minnesotans blame the Minnesota GOP for the shutdown:

By a whopping 2-1 margin, Minnesotans blame the Republicans who control both houses of the Legislature for the recent government shutdown more than they blame Gov. Mark Dayton, according to a poll taken this week for MinnPost.


Predictably, most Republicans blamed Dayton more (by 56 to 10 percent, with the rest saying both sides were to blame or holding no opinion). DFLers blamed the Republicans by an even more overwhelming majority (68 percent to just 2 percent of DFLers who blamed DFLer Dayton).


But the key swing group of self-identified independents was also much more likely to blame Republicans than to blame Dayton. Among independents, 46 percent “blamed” the Republicans, 18 percent blamed Dayton and 25 percent both.

Hm. That sounds bad!

It also sounded familiar – indeed, it sounded right in line with a prediction I made in this space mere weeks ago.  Go ahead and read it; Prediction 1 was a month late, and it appeared in the MinnPost rather than the Strib; the piece is written by Erik Black and Doug Grow, former Strib staffers, so the feeling of deja vu was so overwhelming…

…that when I first read this post, I practically predicted the bit that is emphasized in the quote below:

Based on other questions in the poll, it was difficult to say whether the fallout from the shutdown will give DFLers a significant advantage heading into the 2012 elections, as Republicans seek to retain their majorities. Projecting current attitudes onto an election 16 months in the future would be folly.


Also, this poll, conducted for MinnPost by Daves & Associates Research, was designed to take the pulse of the state in the aftermath of the shutdown, not to predict the next election. No likely voter screen was used and sample surely includes non-voters.

And there you have it.  The MinnPost gets its polling from “Daves and Associates”.  That’d be Rob Daves – the guy who ran the Minnesota Poll for 21 years – the poll whose election-eve polls on Gubernatorial, Senate and Presidential races *always* showed the GOP doing worse – usually much worse – than it ended up doing.

And if it’s a post on politics in Minnesota by Strib alums Black and Grow, who else just has to show up?

Humphrey Center Political Scientist Larry Jacobs said the results of the new poll were “basically bad news for the Republicans.”


“They have to think about this fact,” said Jacobs.”The principles that they ran on in 2010 — that they would advocate for cuts only and would refuse to go along with any tax increase — may still be the principles that appeal to the most enthusiastic base of support they have. But that position seems to be pretty unpopular not only with two-thirds of Minnesotans, but with half of their own party, all of whom prefer a mix of significant spending cuts and at least some tax increases.”

Yep, Dr. Jacobs, whose Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Poll is even worse, and whose methodology was openly and publicly savaged by Frank Newman of Gallup last year after the Humphrey Institute polls were not only grossly wrong (predicting a 12 point Dayton blowout in the gubernatorial race which ended up about a .4% race) but were shown to have systematically oversampled strongly DFL areas of the state.

Both Daves’ and Jacobs’ polls, as I showed last year, shared an interesting trait: if the final result of an election ended up being really close, like the ’08 Senate and ’10 Governor’s race (as opposed to blowouts, like the ’06 Senate race), the Minnesota and HHH Polls *both* shorted Republicans *even more*:

The reason? Well, it’s a known fact that voters are prone to the “Bandwagon Effect”; they do tend to go along with what polls tell them, positively or negatively.  My theory – while it’s conceivable that the Strib, Rob Daves, the Minnpost, the HHH Institute and Larry Jacobs are unaware of the “bandwagon effect”,  I’d be a lot more convinced if Daves didn’t have a 24 year record of shorting the GOP on controversial, loaded polls when the chips were down (and Jacobs’ polls even worse for seven years).

The poll canvassed less than 600 random adults – not registered, much less likely, voters – and, as usual, it heavily-sampled identified DFLers and unspecified “independents”.

6 thoughts on “He’s Baaaaaack

  1. I have to give you this one. I hate polls for a lot of reasons, but the main reason is that very few pollsters have a methodology for identifying likely voters that’s worth a damn. In this case, they didn’t even try. That’s utterly pointless if you’re going to use the poll to predict electoral future.

    Now, if you’re looking for popular sentiment – ie how it might play out in bar conversations, etc, thus reflecting the tenor of the next election’s debate before it starts, this might be interesting. But 600 people? Yeesh.

    As a DFL campaign hack for many years I can tell you that there have been a lot of elections where the results went completely against the buzz, however. That’s because elections are not decided by percentages but by who shows up. Polls, at their very worst, make people forget that – and, BTW, I think favor the Republicans who usually benefit from lower turnout. So the “Bandwagon Effect” has a corresponding “Overconfidence Effect” and “Generally Missing the Point Effect” that may cancel it out.

    But I do agree that this looks like a particularly dumb poll. And Daves has a really bad track record for one reason or another. I chalk it up to incompetence, but your opinion is pretty well earned after all this time. 🙂

  2. Look for similar polls after the impending US government debt ceiling crisis. Look for the President to have his Sheriff Bart moment (see Blazing Saddles) as he tries to evade responsibility for the mess.

  3. wabbitoid has a good point. I would even surmise that bar conversations on public sentiment on current events, are more reliable that these polls.

  4. I think part of the problem is some people don’t want to see the bickering and want to see a deal done just so it’s not talked about. To those people like the independents they thought it was Republicans who didn’t care at first and the way Dayton ended it by saying he was giving in to the Republicans position (even though he didn’t) made it look like he was being responsible.

    The other problem and lets not forget it is the mainstream media which most people used was covering Dayton’s back like not reminding them that Dayton promised during the campaign he wouldn’t shut down the government if he didn’t get his tax increase.

    Walter Hanson
    Minneapolis, MN

  5. Pingback: The Common Trough | Shot in the Dark

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