The Peasants Are Restless

A Survey USA poll shows Hillary losing to every single GOP candidate.

In Minnesota.


Longtime friend of the blog Fresch Fisch writes in re poll (about which more later today):

I predict the Minnesota Poll will come out in a couple of weeks showing her back on top.


But she won’t just be back on top, but on top by a margin guaranteed to discourage GOP turnout.

Confirmation Bias

The Strib has a new publisher, Mike Klingensmith.

David Brauer at the MinnPost checked up on the guy’s financial donations, as well as the new board chair Mike Sweeney’s – which ranged from “moderate Republicans” to “very liberal Democrats” over the course of the past decade and change.  Brauer’s summary:

 All in all, bipartisan, big-business-like, skewed toward the D.C. Establishment, with a whiff of fashionable Democratic insurgency late. (Obama was not yet a favorite when Klingensmith started giving.)

But here’s the part that caught my attention; Brauer says the previous publisher, Chris Harte, “pushed the page in a conservative direction” – defined by chair Sweeney and quoted by Brauer, as “My understanding of Chris’s view was that he wanted to be fair to both sides”, which media people seem to think is a radical departure, since they don’t tend to think the current media has any bias.

I mean, in his piece Brauer says the Strib  is ever so slightly conservative these days.

But I’m putting words in Brauer’s mouth.  I’ll let him speak for himself – here, writing about the new guard’s rap sheet:

I don’t expect conservatives to be pleased with this record, but many seem happiest ripping the Strib as the Red Star. Harte’s push toward the middle, or further, yielded few dividends with that crowd.

So let’s run down a summary of what conservatives would make of a sober look at what the Strib has done over Harte’s term:

  • Hired a single, solitary conservative columnist, Katherine Kersten
  • Promptly caved in to the whinging of a staff that believed that adding a single conservative to a stable that included DFL stenographers Lori Sturdevant, Nick Coleman and his replacement Jon Tevlin made the paper “too conservative”
  • Made the “Minnesota Poll” arguably less comically biased, with the dumping of the internal pollsters, the firing of Princeton, and the hiring of Mason Dixon (we’ll know in a cycle or two)

“More conservative?”  I’d run with “marginally less North Korean”.   It was a start, and a very slow one at that – one fought at every turn by people who think the Strib is juuuuust fine the way it’s always been.

I’d love to know from David Brauer – on precisely what grounds was he expecting “dividends” from the right?

While the Strib has some capable reporters (who have historically had an amazing and I’m sure coincidental propensity to go to work for liberal PACs, PR firms or the DFL after leaving the paper), at the editorial board level the paper has been since the Cowles era nothing but a glorified DFL PR firm.

The Emperor’s New Polls – What Are Words For?

Yesterday, we looked at a piece by Joe Loveland in the Twin Cities leftyblog Wry Wing Politics.  WWP rates my ultimate endorsement for a leftyblog – its author isn’t in line for a harassment restraining order and remedial logic class.

That’s all to the good.

But he cited a series of media polls about the public’s opinion on Universal Background Checks, listed off the top-line numbers…:

  • CNN/ORC (89% support background checks)
  • Quinnipiac (91% support background checks)
  • Morning Joe/Marist (87% support background checks)
  • CBS (90% support background checks)
  • Fox News (85% support background checks)
  • ABC/Washington Post (90% support background checks)
  • Pew/USA Today (83% support background checks)
  • University of Connecticut (69% support background checks)
  • Gallup (91% support background checks)
  • Associated Press-GfK (84% support background checks)

…as dispositive evidence that the public overwhelmingly favors universal background checks.

And unlike many leftybloggers, Loveland knows that polls aren’t, themselves, iron-clad.  He takes a whack at a pre-emptive defense of the results:

For those who quibble about question wording, these polls all asked the question a bit differently.

“A bit differently”.

Let’s take a look at the questions asked in the individual polls that Loveland cited:

  • CNN/ORC (89%) – The 89% response came from asking if the respondent supports background checks “If the buyer is trying to purchase a gun from a gun store or other business that sells guns”.  Other questions came in much lower.
  • Quinnipiac (91%) – “Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?”
  • Morning Joe/Marist (87%) – “Do you support or oppose legislation that would require background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows?”
  • CBS (90%) – “Do you favor or oppose a federal law requiring background checks on all potential gun buyers?”
  • Fox News (85%) – There were several questions; the one getting 85% was whether the respondent favored “Requiring criminal background checks on all gun buyers, including those buying at gun shows and private sales”
  • ABC/Washington Post (90%) – “Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows?”
  • Pew/USA Today (83%) – Asked if the respondent supported “making private gun sales and sales at gun shows subject to background checks”.
  • University of Connecticut (69%) – asked if the responded supports “a law which would require background checks before people – including gun dealers – could buy guns at gun shows”, which is, by the way, borderline-incoherent.
  • Gallup (91%) – “Require criminal background checks for all gun sales”
  • Associated Press-GfK (84%) – Asked if US should  “Establish a federal standard requiring background checks for those trying to buy guns at a gun show”
  • Strib “Minnesota Poll”/Mason Dixon (72%) – “Do you support or oppose a universal background check on all gun sales, including those sold at gun shows?”

Loveland’s right.  They’re a “bit” different, all right.

And yet they are all exactly the same.  The questions – all of them – float a high-level proposal  (“Should we have background checks at gun shows?”) with no further context.

Like the pro-gun-control push poll from the 1980s I cited yesterday, which showed 85% of the people “supported gun control”, it was a hopelessly broad question – a gauzy proposal that gave the less-informed respondent no context that would help them actually understand the issue beyond the top-level sound bites – far from enough information to give an informed answer.

Valid questions on the subject, questions that provided the context needed for informed answers on the subject, would go something like this:

  • “Do you support universal background checks at gun shows knowing that the checks create a paper trail leading to every gun and gun buyer in the country – which is de-facto registration?”
  • “Do you support universal background checks, even though criminals don’t subject themselves to background checks of any sort?”
  • “Do you support universal background checks, even though violent gun crime has dropped by over 40% in the past 20 years, and the drop has accelerated over the past five years, after the sale of 70 million firearms in the US?”
  • “Do you support universal background checks, knowing that in California similar legislation has added about $100 to the cost of every firearm, pricing poor people out of the market for guns to defend themselves, their families and their homes?”

Yeah, I know – there’s bias in the wording of my questions; I’d be happy to work with a poll writer on the actual verbiage. But sometimes you need a biased question to lead you to the truth, and sometimes an “unbiased” question, like the polling questions, are biased by omission (and the uncritical reporting on them is biased by commission).

At any rate, I’m going to hazard an informed guess here; if people know the real-life consequences of “universal background checks” (they oppress the law-abiding, hamper the poor and are useless in preventing violent crime), the results might just drop below “landslide” levels.

Because the fact is, people know this already.  Second Amendment rights have expanded over the past twenty years, and violent crime has plummeted.   Obama’s gun-control push has largely fizzled; “background checks”, useless as they are, are about all that’s left, outside the gun-grabber liberal havens on the coasts.

Anyway – back to Minnesota, and Loveland’s assertions:

For those who argue methodology, these polls all reached a different randomized sample of respondents, and relied on different methodologies.

Perhaps they did; the geographic, demographic and ethnographic details weren’t included in any of the links Loveland provided.   

For those who worry about sponsorship bias, these polls were sponsored by a wide variety of news outlets and academic institutions.

And yet the questions they uncritically asked were all nearly exactly identical.

For those who stress that polls are blunt instruments, these polls did not find slim margins that conceivably could be slightly off.

That’s correct.  They found overwhelming support for a hopelessly broad question that, by its nature, filtered all possible context from the results that were reported.  

Of course, this isn’t just about polling “science” to Loveland.  The mission is to try to undercut the Minnesota GOP, which has been gratifyingly solid on Second Amendment issues this session.  (In-line thought bubble: Where the hell was that sense of purpose last session on the freaking stadium? Or in 2011 on the budget negotiations? Hello?)

Make no mistake, on the issue of universal gun background checks, Minnesota Republicans are choosing to represent the will of NRA lobbyists over the will of the overwhelming majority of Minnesotans, including gun owners, Republicans, Independents and Greater Minnesota citizens.

“NRA Lobbyists” are the great lefty boogeymen.  The heavy lifting on gun issues this session, as between 1995-2005 in passing Concealed Carry, has been GOCRA – the most successful grass roots group in Minnesota politics, and the grass-rootsiest successful group in Minnesota politics to boot.  It has no paid lobbyists.  It has no paid anything.  It’s an email mailing list and over 20,000 Minnesotans who write letters and make phone calls.

Legislators report that phone calls and emails against the DFL’s gun grab legislation run about between 50-100:1 against the gun grab supporters.

And Minnesotans are voting with their feet; 135,000 Minnesotans now have their carry permits, and at current pace there will be 200,000 within a year.

None of those figures gives you any more context than the questions in any of the polling Loveland cites.  Or, to be fair, any less.

Frankly, Minnesotans, Republicans just aren’t just not that into you.

And given that the “you” really doesn’t exist outside of a push-poll wording card trick, they’ve got the right idea.

The Emperor’s New Polls: “Your Client Is Obviously Guilty!”

Wry Wing Politics” is one of the painfully small group of Twin Cities leftybloggers who don’t expressly deserve to be under police surveillance.

But that doesn’t mean WWP and its author, Joe Loveland, know how to take apart a complex issue, or dig beneath the hood of a lefty propaganda meme, better than the babbling bobbleheads at Minnesota Progressive Project.

Vide this piece about the polling claiming to show Minnesotans and Americans are lock-step in favor of universal background checks.  Loveland thinks the polls show it’s not even a debate anymore.

And on the surface – as in, the layer that a dust-rag and a spritz of Pledge removes – it looks like he might be onto something:

In politics, presidential candidates who win the support of over 60% of Americans are said to have won overwhelming “landslide” victories. Harding’s 60.3% in 1920. FDR’s 60.8% in 1936. Johnson’s 61.1% in 1964. and Nixon’s 60.7% in 1972. Landslides!

It is so difficult to get 60% of Americans to agree on politics, that such “landslide victories” are considered highly unusual indications of a historically overwhelming level of public sentiment.

So far, so good.  When Americans in all their infinite variety consider all the different issues and perceptions and angles that go into electing a president, a landslide like Reagan’s in 1984 (which, at 58.77%, is mighty close to 60%) is pretty much a mandate.

That’s with what should be a complex decision, like a Presidential election.  Now, you can look at the results of the past two elections and wonder if voters really do put all that much thought into elections, but let’s have some faith in The People and assume that there’s a certain amount of reasoning and, for most people, at least a week or two of thought that goes into elections.

But a public opinion poll? 

In Minnesota right now, Minnesotans of all walks of life, including Republicans, Independents, gun owners and Greater Minnesota citizens, are giving a landslide victory to gun background checks.

Loveland cites the Strib “Minnesota Poll”, which I’ll borrow here:

Pilfered without permission from “Wry Wing Politics”, but with a link back included. Go ahead. Click it. Click the picture. You know you want to.

Now, we’ve gone over this in the past; through most of its history, the “Minnesota Poll” has been a bald-faced DFL propaganda organ, so any conservative is going to distrust but verify their results.

However, I think there’s reason to believe they cleaned up their act in 2012 – the next election will be an interesting one.  So I’m not as inclined to reject the poll because it’s the Minnesota Poll as I used to be.  But they say “trust but verify”, and so I shall:

Loveland thinks he’s closing in for the kill:

The Minnesota Republicans’ point person on this issue, State Representative Tony Cornish (R-Vernon Center) shrugs off this Star Tribune Minnesota Poll with a cavalier “nobody really believes those polls.”

  • Or this poll — CNN/ORC (89% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Quinnipiac (91% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Morning Joe/Marist (87% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — CBS (90% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Fox News (85% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — ABC/Washington Post (90% support support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Pew/USA Today (83% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — University of Connecticut (69% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Gallup (91% support background checks)?
  • Or this poll — Associated Press-GfK (84% support background checks)?

Before we address the polls, let’s take a quick trip back in time.


When I first started covering the war on the Second Amendment back in 1986, as a fairly newly-minted conservative talk show host on the weekend graveyard shift at KSTP, it was a very different world.  There were eight shall-issue states, and many states and cities with absolute gun bans.

And when I interviewed a woman, Margolyn Bijlefeld of the “National Coalition to Ban Handguns” (which later morphed into either the Brady Factory or the VPC, I forget which), she flogged a set of polling stats that showed something like “85% of the American people support gun control!”

A landslide!

And so I pounced:  the poll leading to that question simply asked people if they supported “more gun control”, with no elaboration.  Yes or no.  No coloration, no flavor, no nuance.

And it was a question that everyone – from the gun-grabbing government-groupie to lil’ ol’ me who favored ratcheting up sentences for gun crimes and keeping them out of the hands of the insane – could say “yes” to, with different reasons and (this is important) with different consequences in mind.  
And when other pollsters added elaboration to the question – telling people what “gun control” actually meant – the numbers changed drastically.  The numbers favoring complete civilian gun bans dropped into (as I recall [1]) the twenties; handgun bans, the low thirties; background checks (in the days before NICS) scored much better; stiffer sentencing for gun crimes scored very, very well indeed.  
And this was right around the high-water mark for the gun control movement, when murder rates were rising toward their highest levels since the 1930’s.  Where do you suppose those numbers would fall out today, after two decades of expanding gun rights and (in an utterly unrelated story, yessirreebob) radically falling violent crime rates?
I’ll give credit to Loveland; he at least knows where I’m going with this, unlike most other leftybloggers:

For those who quibble about question wording, these polls all asked the question a bit differently.

Right.  A bit.

We’ll come back to this tomorrow morning and go through the fallacy of the “overwhelming support”.

We’ll call it “Back to the Future”.  Or that’s what 85% of the writers of my blog say right now.

[1] (I’ve been trying to find any reference to the polls from the eighties; happening as they did back when only Algore had the internet, I’m having not much luck.  If anyone has a pointer, I’d be much obliged)

Chanting Points Memo: Tie Manufacturing Is Way Up!

The Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” has declared Minnesota tied on the Obamacare issue:

About 46 percent of the state’s likely voters say they support keeping the Affordable Care Act, whose main tenets were largely upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, while 47 percent believe the law should go.

As always when dealing with any polls – especially polls with records of dishonesty as long as the Strib’s -  The Strib’s, in case you’ve forgotten,  is 41% Democrat, 28% Republican – which, as I showed yesterday, is more Democrat-leaning than the 1976 post-Watergate, post-Nixon-pardon election, the post-war nadir of GOP fortunes.

As a bipartisan sampling – liberal Hamline poli-sci professor Dave Schultz and I – both agree,  the sample is more like 38% DFL, 34% GOP.   Since 80% of DFLers (according to the Minnesota Poll) support the amendment, that means you deduct 80% of 3 points – 2.4 – from the “support” column.  Likewise, 90% of the six additional points of Republicans – 5.4% – support repeal.

With those assumptions – a more realistic turnout model and those levels of support – the “repeal” case is really more like 52-44.

It looks like the MInnesota Poll is building up to the Senate Race.

Chanting Points Memo: That D+13 Split

As I wait for the latest “Minnesota Poll” to release its results for the Senate race, I’ve been turning the poll’s D+13 (their sample of respondents was 41% Democrat and 28% Republican) number around in my head.

After all, as the Strib tells us, “Brad Coker, managing director of Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, which conducted the poll for the Star Tribune, said those numbers are consistent with what he has seen over the years”.

But as we noted yesterday, the 2008 election – an epic Democrat win – was D+6 or so.  The 2010 election had turnout of D+2, roughly, and turned out to be a GOP rout nationwide and in the MN Legislature.

So what about the worst election in the past 50 years for the GOP – the post-Watergate presidential election of 1976?    Where the GOP got shredded in DC and in Saint Paul, sending the MNGOP running to their “Independent Republican” label?

I can’t find the partisan split – but does it seem unreasonable that in a year when Jimmy Carter beat Gerald Fold by 12 points in Minnesota that the partisan split was, maybe in the neighborhood of D+12?

In other words, maybe somewhere around the D+13 number the Strib would have you believe today?

The Great Poll Scam: A Blast From The Past

As we look at the abusive travesty that is the Minnesota Poll – in this case, the ludicrously skewed, 3:2 pro-DFL partisan breakdown in this weekend’s polling on the two Constitutional Amendments – let’s take a trip back through history.

Frank Newport, the president of the broadly-respected Gallup Polls, savaged the Minnesota Poll in the immediate aftermath of the 2010 midterm and gubernatorial elections.

Let’s make sure we’re clear on this.  Pollsters attacking pollsters in public is a little like magicians publicly heckling other magicians.

Is there any evidence the Strib has polished up their methodology?

No.  Indeed, the two polls released over the weekend on the Marriage and Voter ID amendments show quite the opposite – or that some copy editor took a poll of Ramsey County voters and mislabeled it a poll of Minnesotans.

Chanting Points Memo: Camouflaging The Battleground

The Strib “Minnesota Poll” is doing what it’s paid to do:  create a pro-DFL bandwagon effect, and suppress GOP voter turnout.  It’s calling Minnesota at Obama with 48% and Romney with 40%.

But the poll uses the same absurd D41/R28 breakdown that the Marriage and Voter ID polls.  This polling would have you believe that while in 2008, with a messianic media darling running against an unpopular two-term candidate (McCain was irrevant) and the war the DFL had a six point advantage in partisan turnout (D39 R33), this year, mirabile dictu, we have a 13 point Democrat advantage in this state?

If you use turnout numbers from somewhere in between 2008 and 2010 – say, D36 R34 – and multiply the changes by the percent of each party that the poll itself says plan on voting for their candidate (93% of Democrats plan to vote for Obama, vs 96% of Republicans), then you wind up lopping off roughly .3% of Obama’s numbers, and adding a whopping 5.8% to Romney’s.

That makes the real split 47.7% Obama, 45.8% Romney.  

Question – especially for you libs in the audience:  In what way is a widely (one might say “lavishly”) publicized poll using a partisan split that this state hasn’t seen since Watergate to be interepreted as anything other than an elaborate voter-suppression scam?

Chanting Points Memo: “Minnesota Poll” Has Your Delivery Of Sandbags Right Here

Yesterday, the Star Tribune “Minnesota Poll” also delivered its mid-cycle tally of support for the Voter ID Amendment.

And coming barely a week after the generally-accurate Survey USA poll showing Voter ID passing by a 2:1 margin, the Strib would have you believe…:

Slightly more than half of likely voters polled — 52 percent — want the changes built around a photo ID requirement, while 44 percent oppose them and 4 percent are undecided.

That is a far cry from the 80 percent support for photo ID in a May 2011 Minnesota Poll, when the issue was debated as a change in state law. Support among Democrats has cratered during a year marked by court battles, all-night legislative debates and charges that the GOP is attempting to suppress Democratic votes.

Republicans and independents continue to strongly back the proposal, which passed the Legislature this year without a single DFL vote.

Wow.  Sounds close!

Sort of; if you accept the validity of the numbers (and unless the DFL is headed for a blowout win, you must never accept the validity of the “Minnesota Poll’s” numbers), and every single undecided voter today voted “no”, the measure would pass in a squeaker.

But are the numbers valid?    And by “valid”, I don’t mean “did they do the math right”, I mean “did they poll a representative sample of Minnesotans?”

To find that out, you have to do something that almost nobody in the Strib’s reading audience does; look at the partisan breakdown of the survey’s respondents.  Which is in a link buried in the middle of a sidebar, between the main article and the cloud of ads and clutter to the right of the page, far-removed from the headline and the lede graf.  Which takes you to a page that notes (with emphasis added):

• The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

That’s right – as with the Marriage Amendment numbers we looked at this morning (it’s the same survey), the Strib wants you to believe…

…well, no.  I’m not sure they “want” anyone to believe anything.  I’m sure they want people to read the headling and the “almost tied!” lede, and not dig too far into the numbers.

It’s part of the Democrat’s “Low-Information Voters” campaign; focus on voters who don’t dig for facts, who accept what the media tells them, who vote based on the last chanting point they heard.

Fearless prediction:  On November 4, the Strib will release a “Minnesota Poll” that shows the Voter ID Amendment slightly behind, using a partisan breakdown with an absurdly high number of DFLers.   It’ll be done as a sort of positive bandwagon effect – to make DFLers feel there’s a point to come out and vote against the Voter ID Amendment (and for Obama, Klobuchar, and the rest of the DFL slate, natch).

And it will be a complete lie.  Voter ID will pass by 20 points, and this cycle of polling will disappear down the media memory hole like all the rest of them.

Question:  Given that its entire purpose seems to be to build DFL bandwagons and discourage conservative voters, when do we start calling the “Minnesota Poll” what it seems to be – a form of vote suppression?

Chanting Points Memo: “Minnesota Poll” Orders Material For A Narrative-Building Spree

If you take the history of the Minnesota Poll as any indication, yesterday’s numbers on the Marriage Amendment might be encouraging for amendment supporters:

The increasingly costly and bitter fight over a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage is a statistical dead heat, according to a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll.

Six weeks before Election Day, slightly more Minnesotans favor the amendment than oppose it, but that support also falls just short of the 50 percent needed to pass the measure.

Wow.  That sounds close!

But as always with these polls, you have to check the fine print.  And the “Minnesota Poll” buries its fine print in a link well down the page; you don’t ever actually find it in the story itself.  And it contains the partisan breakdown (with emphasis added):

The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 41 percent Democrat, 28 percent Republican and 31 percent independent or other.

That’s right – to get this virtual tie, the Strib, in a state that just went through photo-finish elections for Governor and Senator, and has been on the razor’s edge of absolute equality between parties for most of a decade, sampled three Democrats for every two Republicans to get to a tie.

If you believe – as I do – that the “Minnesota Poll” is first and foremost a DFL propaganda tool, intended largely to create a ‘bandwagon effect” to suppress conservative turnout (and we’ll come back to that), then this is good news; the Marriage Amendment is likely doing better  than the poll is showing.

What it does mean, though, is that they are working to build a narrative; that the battle over gay marriage is much more closely-fought than it is.

And the narrative’s players are already on board with this poll.  The Strib duly interviews Richard Carlbom, the former Dayton staffer who is leading the anti-Amendment

Actually, here’s my bet; the November 4 paper will show a “surge of support” that turns out to be much larger than any that actually materializes at the polls.

More At Noon.

UPDATE:  I wrote this piece on Sunday.  Monday morning, all of the local newscasts duly led with “both ballot initiatives are tied!”.

If you’re trying to find a construction job in Minnesota, you can get a job putting siding on the DFL’s narrative.

UPDATE 2:  Professor David Schultz at Hamline University – no friend of conservatism, he – did something I more or less planned to do on Wednesday; re-ran the numbers with a more realistic partisan breakdown:

Why is the partisan adjustment important? The poll suggests significant partisan polarization for both amendments, with 73% of DFLers opposing the marriage amendment and 71% of GOPers supporting. Similar partisan cleavages also exist with the Elections Amendment. If this is true, take the marriage Amendment support at 49% and opposition at 47%. If DFLers are overpolled by 3% and GOP underpolled by 6%, and if about 3/4 of each party votes in a partisan way, I would subtract about 2.25% from opposition (3% x .75) and add 4.5% to support (6% x .75) and the new numbers are 53.5% in support and 44.75% against. This is beyond margin or error.

If one applies the correction to the Elections Amendment there is about an 80% DFL opposition to it and a similar 80% GOP support for it. Then the polls suggest approximately 56.8% support it and 41.6% oppose.

Which brings us very nearly back to the 3:2 margin  for the Voter ID amendment, and the tight but solid lead for the Marriage Amendment that every other poll – the reputable ones, anyway – have found.

The Bandwagoneers

Have you noticed something?

No “Minnesota Poll” yet this cycle.  Ditto the Humprey Institute.

Usually by this point in an election cycle, they’ve run a poll showing the Republican candidate down by some absurd amount that turns out to be many times greater than the eventual margin of victory (or defeat) for the DFLer.

Now, I’ve been writing about the HHH and Strib “Minnesota” polls for quite some time.  I noted that since 1988, the Strib Minnesota Poll has consistently shorted Republicans by a consistently greater margin than Democrats in their pre-election polls – and that the discrepancy is even greater in elections that end up being closest.  I noted that the HHH poll is even worse – but that in polls where the DFLer appears to be in no danger, their polls end up being more accurate.

It is my contention that the Strib and the Humphrey Institute are allied – at least at the executive level – with the DFL, and use their polls to further the DFL’s ends; everyone involved is certainly aware of the “Bandwagon Effect” – the phenomenon by which voters who believe their candidates have no chance of victory will stay home.

So we’ve seen no “Minnesota” poll so far this cycle; Amy Klobuchar – perhaps the greatest beneficiary of media bias in the history of Minnesota politics, as the daughter of a former Strib columnist – seems to be in no great danger, so the polls say, from Kurt Bills (not to say I won’t do everything I can, personally, to fix that).  I’ll bet dimes to dollars the Strib polls wind up pretty darn close to the election totals, in fact!


But the “Bandwagon” effect is going nationwide; Minnesota in 2008 and 2010 showed that it can keep juuuuuuuuust enough people home, if it’s relentless enough, to tip a close election.

And so you see the mainstream media already declaring the election over, based entirely on polling that is entirely based on the Democrats getting turnout they didn’t even get in 2008.

It is, in fact, the flip side of the “Low Information Voter” strategy they’ve run on their own side – convincing the ill-informed, the querulous and the not-bright that there’s a “war on women” and Obama “stands with the 99%” and “the economy was Bush’s fault but it’s almost back, any day now”; trying to convince people, especially independents, who might be sick to death of Obama and possibly thinking of voting GOP that it’s all hopeless and they should stay home.

Think about it.  Why else would they run polls that are transparently false?  That rely on assumptions that probably didn’t even occur during the post-Watergate election in 1976, much less 2008, much less today?

Because only the high-information voters either dig into the partisan breakdowns (or read the bloggers who do), and the record in Minnesota shows there are just enough incurious, too-busy, ill-informed, and just plain un-bright people to sway the matter if it’s close enough.

The media at all levels – bald-faced cheerleaders like the LATimes and the Strib and the supposedly-ethical ones like NPR alike – are going to be beating the “it’s over” drum constantly ’til the election.

The well-informed people know it’s baked wind.

But it’s not aimed at them.

Strib: “This Duck Is A Buffalo”

I’m going to start a new TV show.  I’m going to call it “Profiles in Leadership”.

I’ve got a few episodes all plotted out.

Episode 1:  After decades of weak mayors who futzed around with “due process” and “the limits of government”, Boss Tweed finally did more than pay lip service to the office of “Chief Executive”, and actually used the office of mayor to lead the City of New York!

Episode 2: Putting lesser religions with their notions of “spiritual commitment” to shame, Revered Jim Jones put the leader back into “leadership”, when by the strength of his example he led his followers to put the “Ded” in “Dedication”.

Episode 3:  Unsatisfied to be a regular businessman, Bernard Madoff led his organization to excel beyond all others in its category!

Episode 4: Mark Dayton truly led “his” state in the quest to stick the bill for a billion-dollar spiff to Zygmund Wilf’s real estate investment on Minnesota’s taxpayers in an example of “leadership” for the ages.

No, the Strib say so:

Gov. Mark Dayton’s savvy and indefatigable advocacy for a new Vikings stadium represents the kind of executive leadership Minnesotans should applaud.

In much the same way that Chicagoans should have “applauded” Al Capone getting the prostitution rackets lined up and paying him tribute.

Unlike his predecessor, Dayton did more than occasionally lead cheers for the Vikings — he delivered on a key campaign promise to the people of Minnesota despite significant political risks.

Unlike his predecessor, Mark Dayton makes no pretense of being fiscally responsible, except where that means “taking other peoples’ money to pay off your campaign chits”.

And make no mistake about it; this was a payoff – to the Strib as well as many others.

The Strib needs the Vikings to be in downtown Minneapolis, to be paying big money on that fallow land the Strib owns near the current ‘dome, and to give it another ready market for selling newspapers.  So do the rest of the Twin Cities media, to a lesser degree.  They knew Dayton was a willing stooge for the downtown Minneapolis business interests that want that state subsidy every bit as bad as Wilf did.

And so the Star/Tribune’s coverage of the election race that led Dayton to office resembled  DFL public relations more than journalism – from their careful white-washing of Dayton’s political record to the election-eve “Minnesota Poll” showing Tom Emmer trailing by an improbable margin that certainly induced not a few Republicans to stay home.

The threat that the Vikings would have left Minnesota without a stadium deal this year was real, although to their credit the team and NFL leadership negotiated in good faith.

The negotiations were done in the same “good faith” the Mob uses when “negotiating” with a shopkeeper who is threatening not to pony up protection money fast enough.

Had this market lost the franchise, we no doubt would have seen an expensive reprise of the effort to bring big-league hockey back to the state after the North Stars left for Dallas.


And we all know how that loss devastated the State of Minnesota…

…well, no.  It devastated hockey fans, who were upset that “their” team got moved elsewhere by an owner that, like Zygi Wilf, wanted better tribute from the local government.

And it devastated the TV and radio stations and newspaper reporters and (especially) ad execs that covered, and sold ads for coverage of, North Stars games.

Other than that?  The loss of the North Stars had much less impact on this city than the loss of, say, the Ford plant.

Thursday’s passage of a stadium bill ends years of debate over the future of the team and the outdated Metrodome.

And the debate will be “ended” for another twenty years.  Until the next round of NFL owners wants their investments buffed up on other peoples’ money.

Or until someone tells them “no”.

Which would devastate nobody…

…but WCCO, KSTP, KARE, Fox Sports North, the PiPress and the Strib.  

Which, to be fair, at least discloses part of their vast interest in this bit of racketeering:

(Disclosure: The current stadium development plan includes one of five blocks owned by the Star Tribune near the Metrodome.)

But they graze up against the truth at least briefly:

The stadium bill, and the bonding bill that went before it this week, were exercises in effective bipartisan lawmaking,

And there you.

“Bipartisan” legislation.  Everybody wins…

…but the taxpayer.

And that, as they say, is all.

Fearless Predictions

I have a couple of predictions for you.

Prediction 1:  Polled To Death Take this to the bank:  sometime before July 1, the Strib will run another “Minnesota Poll” in re the shutdown.

The poll’s headlines will be within one rhetorical standard deviation of  “65% of Minnesotans Favor Compromise On Budget Impasse”.

The crosstabs, carefully buried, will show that DFLers are oversampled by 50%; those trying to investigate the faint whiff of metrocentrism in the polling will be frustrated by the absolute lack of crosstabs showing geography.

Prediction 2: Dead Silence – Despite the avalanche of evidence coming out of the state bureaucracy that Dayton is not only pushing for the shutdown, but actively trying to make it “hurt” as much as possible, there will be not one word on the subject from the Strib, WCCO, the PiPress, the KARE Bears (whose John Cronan is rapidly shaping up to be an Esme Murphy-grade stealth-DFL  propagandist), or MPR.

Place your bets.

Or make your own predictions, in the comment section.

The Great Poll Scam, Part XIV: Fool Me Ten Times…

You’ve heard the old saying – “the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. 

The joke writes itself.  Nearly every election season, Minnesota’s media runs the results of the Star-Tribune Minnesota Poll and the Humprey Institute/MPR Poll on its front pages; front and center on its 6 and 10PM newscasts; up-front in its hourly news bites; in the New York Times; prominently on that big news crawl above Seventh Street in downtown Saint Paul.   To those who don’t dig into the numbers – and that’s probably 99 percent of Minnesota voters – that’s all there is to it.  “Hm.  Looks like Dayton’s winning big!”.

In most elections- especially the close ones – both polls (along with their downmarket stepsibling, the SCSU Poll) show numbers for GOP candidate that beggar the imagination.  The media – the Strib, the TV stations, MPR – run the polls pretty  much without any analysis.  The job of actually fact-checking the polling falls to conservative bloggers – myself, MDE, Ed Morrissey, Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker, Gary Gross, the Dogs, Sheila Kihne and others; poll after poll, election after election, we shout into the storm “the numbers are a joke! Democrats are oversampled to an extent that is not warranted by electoral results we’ve seen in this state in nearly a generation!  Would someone look into this?”

The elections take place.  There is hand-wringing about the inaccuracy of the polls.  Two years pass.  Larry Jacobs and the  Strib release still more polls, repeating precisely the same pathologies, over and over and over.  Forever and ever, amen.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now, “journalism” is supposed to be about accuracy and clarity.  About telling the story, and telling it in a way that your sources reinforce your credibility and clarity.  If you are a reporter, and you report a story based on a source’s information, and that information turns out to be wrong, it’s a bit of a vocational black eye.

This morning I asked, rhetorically, “do you think that if a source burned Tom Scheck or Pat Doyle or Rochelle Olson or Rachel Stassen-Berger over and over, year in and year out, by feeding them laughably inaccurate information, not just once or twice but on nearly every story on which they are a key source, would they keep using them as sources?”  Without really serious corroboration, if indeed it could be found?  Ever?  

And yet the regional media not only continues running the Strib and HHH polls, election after election, without any serious question – until after the election, anyway.  Notwithstanding the fact that the Strib’s Minnesota Poll has been very regularly wrong for a generation now.  Notwithstanding the fact that the Humphrey Poll has been even more consistent in its systematic shorting of GOP candidates.  The polls are still treated not only as useful news, but front-page material.

This would prompt a curious person to ask a whooooole lot of questions:

Why do the pollsters continue to generate such a defective product?:  While I focused heavily over the past few days specifically on Gallup’s Frank Newport’s critique of the Humphrey Institute poll, that gives the impression that this is a one-time issue.  And yet both the major media polls have had nearly the same problems, election in, election out, for a generation (or in the case of the Humphrey Institute Poll,  in every major election since 2004).   It’s gotten to the point where I want to stand outside 425 Portland, or outside the Humphrey Institute’s building at the U, and wave a sign about; “It’s the same thing, every time!”.

Why do the media continue to present such a routinely defective product as newsworthy?:  Scott Johnson has been lighting up the “Minnesosta Poll’s” shortcomings for a solid decade now; the Strib’s poll is rarely even close, and performs worse in close elections than in blowouts.  And at the risk of repeating myself, let me repeat myself; the Humphrey Institute poll has underpolled Republicans by an average of nine points.  This past election was distinguished from the previous years’ ineptitude only in degree, not in concept.

Does it never occur to our “watchdogs” and “gatekeepers” to look into this?  Wasn’t “insatiable curiosity” once a pre-requisite for being a reporter?

Do the editors at the Strib, the PiPress, KARE, MPR, WCCO and the rest of the regional mainstream media genuinely consider “polls are a snapshot in time” an excuse for decades worth of a pattern of inaccuracy, not only in polling technique but in their own coverage of elections?

If a city councilman is caught cashing checks to herself, would saying “it’s just a snapshot in time!” get the Strib to call their dogs off?

Appearance Of…Something?: I’ve said it before; I’m not a fundamentally conspiracy-minded person.  I don’t necessarily believe that the media is involved in a conscious, considered conspiracy to short conservative candidates in close elections.

Still – given that…:

…I’ll ask again: if the Humphrey Institute (whose institutional sympathies lean definitively left-of-center) and the Strib (ditto) wanted to create a system that would help tip close-call contests toward the DFL, how would it be any different than the system they’ve developed?

Not accusing.  Just asking.

The Great Poll Scam Part IX: The Rockstar Who Couldn’t See His Face In The Mirror

In reading Professor Larry Jacobs’ defense of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute poll – which always underpolls Republicans in its immediate pre-election survey, by an average of six points, with the tendency even more exaggerated in close races – Jacobs writes (with emphasis added):

Appropriately interpreting Minnesota polls as a snapshot is especially important because President Barack Obama’s visit on October 23rd very likely created what turned out to be a temporary surge for Dayton. Obama’s visit occurred in the middle of the interviewing for the MPR/HHH poll; it was the only survey in the field when the President spoke on October 23rd at a rally widely covered by the press. Our write-up of the MPR/HHH poll emphasized that the President appeared to substantially increase support for Dayton and suggested that this bump might last or might fade to produce a closer race:

Well.  That kinda covers all the possibilities, doesn’t it?

Effect of Obama Visit: Obama’s visit to Minnesota on October 23rd and the resulting press coverage did increase support for Dayton. Among the 379 likely Minnesota voters who were surveyed on October 21st and 22nd (the 2 days before Obama’s visit), 40% support Dayton. By contrast, among the 145 likely Minnesota voters who were surveyed on October 24th and 25th (the 2 days after Obama’s visit) 53% support Dayton. This increase in support for Dayton could be a trend that will hold until Election Day, or it could be a temporary blip that will dissipate in the final days of the campaign and perhaps diminish his support.

Did you catch that?

Obama’s presence in the city caused Daytons’ numbers to boom by five points (if you take the HHH’s numbers at face value, something no well-informed person ever does), and then lurch downward by a dozen by election day?  The presence or absence of Barack Obama is responsible for one out of eight Minnesota voters changing their mind and changing it back inside of a week?

Obama’s impact in temporarily inflating Dayton’s lead is a vivid illustration of the importance of using polls as a snapshot.

No.  The HHH polls’ impact in temporarily inflating Dayton’s lead is vivid illustraiton of how these polls need to disregarded or abandoned!.

Indeed, according to the MPR/HHH poll, Dayton’s lead before Obama’s visit was 8 points – nearly identical to the Star Tribune’s lead at nearly the same point in time (7 points). Treating polls as snapshots, then, is especially important when a major event may artificially impact a poll’s results or, as in the case of the MPR/HHH poll, there were a large number of voters who were undecided (about 1 out of 6 voters) or were considering the possibility of shifting from a third party candidate to the Democratic or Republican candidate.

Read another way:  “They’re snapshots, so we can’t be held accountable.  But keep the funding and recognition coming anyway”.

The take-home point: polls are only a snapshot of what can be a fast moving campaign as events intervene and voters reach final decisions. Polls conducted closest to Election Day are most likely to approximate the actual vote tally precisely because they are capturing the changing decisions of actual voters.

Newport dipolmatically notes the real “take-home point”:

The authors raise the issue of the impact of President Obama’s visit to Minnesota on October 23rd. The authors note, and apparently reported when the poll was released, that interviews conducted October 24th and 25th as part of the MPR/HHH poll were more Democratic in voting intention than those conducted before the Obama visit. It is certainly true that “real world” events can affect the voting intentions of the electorate. In this instance, if the voting intentions of Minnesota voters were affected by the President’s visit, the effect would apparently have been short‐lived, given the final outcome of voting. The authors do not mention that the SurveyUSA poll also overlapped the Obama visit by at least one day. It is unclear from the report if there is other internal evidence in the survey that could be used to shed light on the Obama visit, including Obama job approval and 2008 presidential voting.

Up next – at noon – what effect do bogus polls really have on voters?

The Great Poll Scam, Part VI: The Hay They Make

We’ve been discussing the MPR/Humphrey Institute and Minnesota polls for the past two weeks.  Indeed, it’s been one of the ongoing “go to” subjects of this blog for almost eight years now.


Because while  the polls themselves are risible, they have an effect on elections in Minnesota.

Part of it is in terms of people – “undecided”, “independent” voters – going to the polls at all.  I’ve related on this blog several stories of people who’ve pondered not going to the polls this past year.  Part of it was  because of the overwhelming negativity about Tom Emmer portrayed by the media – negativity, partly driven by the “Alliance For A Better Minnesota’s long, Dayton-family-funded, largely dubiously-factual smear campaign, but pushed hard in the media via the “polling” that they, themselves, commissioned.

Larry Jacobs at the Hubert H. Humphrey (HHH) Institute is the most over-quoted person in the Twin Cities media.  And during the campaign, Jacobs was seen as relentlessly as always in the Twin Cities media, flogging the Humphrey Institute’s polling first during the primaries (where the HHH’s polls showed Dayton with a crushing lead even though Dayton won the primaries by a margin not a whole lot bigger than the one we currently have in the governor’s race) and, finally, during the run-up to the election when the HHH poll showed Dayton winning with a 12 point blowout.

We’re still working on the recount for the 0.4% race.

Jacobs defended the poll (quoted in LFR):

JACOBS: Well, you know, a poll is nothing more than a snapshot in time. We’ve begun the interviewing nearly 2 weeks before election day. Barack Obama visited and we talked openly about the fact that this would likely change. There are, of course, all kinds of other factors that happened at the end, including the fact the almost 1 out of 5 undecided voters in our poll started to make up their mind.

The other thing to remember is that there were alot of other polls being conducted that showed the race closing at the time, something we were watching at the time, also.

That’s right, Dr. Jacobs.  There were a lot of other polls.

And except for the HHH and Minnesota polls, all of them showed a “snapshot in time” that was something close to the reality that eventually emerged on election day.

All of them.

So what?

Because opinion polling has an inordinate effect on media coverage and, less directly, the money and effort that people put into campaigns.

As to the media?  The New York Times has absorbed Nate Silver’s “Five Thirty Eight” stats-blog for its election polling coverage.  And throughout the race, the Times ran with the idea that Dayton was overwhelmingly likely to win.

And that supposition was based entirely on a statistical tabulation of opinion poll results.  And the stats were heavily based on the Minnesota and Humphrey polls, especially through the middle of the race, when the tone of the campaign was being set.  All together, the crunching of the opinion poll numbers led Silver to claim the stats showed Minnesota would be a convincing 6.6 point victory for Dayton; since political statistics are an essentially weaselly “science”, Silver also ran with an eight point margin of error.

Naturally, the media ran with the 6.6 points; a little less with the margin of error.

Now, there’s some media attention – the Minnpost, the City Pages – to the ludicrous nature of the polls.  Jacobs:

“If a shortcoming is identified, we will fix it. If not, we will have third-party verification that our methods are sound.”

Dr. Jacobs:  take it from this third party; it’s flawed.  Flawed to the point of illegitimacy.

More on the Minnesota Poll later…


\The series so far:

Monday, 11/8: Introduction.

Wednesday, 11/10: Polling Minnesota – The sixty-six year history of the Strib’s Minnesota Poll. It offers some surprises.

Friday, 11/12: Daves, Goliath:  Rob Daves ran the Minnesota Poll from 1987 ’til 2007.  And the statistics during that era have a certain…consistency?

Monday, 11/15: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!:  The Humphrey Institute has been polling Minnesota for six years, now.  And the results are…interesting.  In the classic Hindi sense of the term.

Wednesday, 11/17: Close Shaves: Close races are the most interesting.  For everyone.  Including you, if you’re reading this series.

Monday, 11/22: The Hay They Make: So what does the media and the Twin Cities political establishment do with these numbers?

Wednesday, 11/24: A Million’s A Crowd:  Attention, statisticians:  Raw data!  Suitable for cloudsourcing!

The Great Poll Scam, Part V: Close Shaves

It’s almost become a cliche, among conservative observers of Minnesota elections.  You’re supporting a Republican.  You know the race is close.  You can feel the race is close.

And the final Humprhey and Minnesota polls come out, and the DFLer leads by an utterly absurd margin – like this year’s Humphrey Institute Poll, which showed a 12 point race…

…which, two days later, came in a statistical dead heat, with much less than half a point separating the two candidates.

And yet the Minnesota and Humphrey Institute polls have their defenders.


Remember the 2006 Senate race?  Mark Kennedy vs. Amy Klobuchar?

The Minnesota poll did pretty well, all in all.  The final Minnesota poll showed Mark Kennedy getting 34 points, to Amy Klobuchar’s 55.  The race ended up being 58.06 to just shy of 38.    The Minnesota poll showed both candidates doing a little worse than they eventually wound up doing – Klobuchar a little worse, in fact.

Defenders of the Minnesota Poll – media people and lefty pundits – chimed in.  “See?  The Minnesota poll is OK” or at the very least “The Minnesota Poll is an equal-opportunity incompetent”.

But if you’re a cynic – and when it comes to the Minnesota and Humphrey Polls, I most certainly am – the answer there is obvious; if you accept that the polls exist to help one party or another out of close jams (and let’s just say I think there’s a case to be made), then the real question is “how do the polls stack up when it really counts – during the close elections?

I took a look at the Minnesota poll’s history with close races – Gubernatorial, Presidential and Senate races that ended up less than five points apart – over the past 66 years.   Since 1944 in these races – twenty of them – the DFL ended up getting 47.69% to the GOP’s 47.57% in the final elections.  The Minnesota Poll has shown the DFL getting 44.3% to 43.28% in the final pre-election poll.  Both numbers are very close, of course.  The Minnesota Poll has underrepresented Republicans by an average of 4.3 points, the DFL by 3.39.  So while the poll underrepresented Republicans in 14 of 20 races, it was by less than a point, on average.

But that’s over 66 years.  And if you recall from episode 1 of this series, the Minnesota Poll used to systematically undercount the DFL.  But long story short – looking at the poll’s entire history, things are fairly close.

When you look at the Rob Daves era at the Minnesota poll, though, things change.

In close races (<5 point final difference) during the Rob Daves era, the GOP has actually gotten a slightly higher average vote total – 46.77% to 46.48% – in actual elections.  But the final Minnesota Poll has shown the DFL outpolling the GOP 43.33% to 40.78%.    Republicans come up an average of six points light in the final Minnesota Poll before the election, with DFLer finishing a little over three points short – nearly a 2-1 margin in underrepresentation.

In other words, in close races the Minnesota Poll has shown the GOP doing six points worse than they actually did, compared to three points for the DFL.  And the average Minnesota Poll has shown the DFL leading the GOP, when in fact the races have been mixed, with move Republican winners than in the previous 20-odd years of Minnesota history.

If you are an idealist, you could think that  it’s just a statistical anomaly.  To which the cynic notes that of eight close races, the GOP has been undercounted by less than the DFL exactly once.

The cynic might continue that it’s entirely possible that the Minnesota Poll doesn’t systematically short Republicans in close elections.  But given that the poll shorts Republicans in races that end up less than five points apart by an average of considerablymore than five points, the cynic would ask “if the Minnesota Poll were designed to keep Republicans home from the polls out of pure discouragement, how would it be any different than what we have now?”

Well, it could look like the Humphrey Poll.

Because the Humprey Poll is worse.  Granted, it’s a smaller sample size – there’ve been four “close” races (2004 Presidential, and the 2006 Governor,  2008 Senate and 2010 Governor races, which were/are very close indeed).

But in those race, the DFL won by an average of 45.43% to 44.7% (most of the gap coming from the four-point 2004 Presidental race; the other three had/have tallies within a point in difference).   But the final HHH poll showed the DFL/Democratic candidate winning by an average of seven points – 42.5 to 35.75%.  The DFL, is underrepresented in the HHH’s final pre-election poll by just a shade under three points; GOP is underpolls its real-life results by an average of almost nine points.

It’s possible that this is an honest error.  It is possible that the Humphrey Institute really, really believes that they have a likely voter model that accurately reflects Minnesota.  Perhaps it even does; maybe Minnesota really is a land of people who answer “DFL” on polls but come racing over to the GOP on election day.  But again – if the Humphrey Institute intended to help the DFL and keep Republicans home, it’s hard to see what they’d do differently.

Especially given the media’s reaction to these polls.

More on Friday.


The series so far:

Monday, 11/8: Introduction.

Wednesday, 11/10: Polling Minnesota – The sixty-six year history of the Strib’s Minnesota Poll. It offers some surprises.

Friday, 11/12: Daves, Goliath:  Rob Daves ran the Minnesota Poll from 1987 ’til 2007.  And the statistics during that era have a certain…consistency?

Monday, 11/15: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!:  The Humphrey Institute has been polling Minnesota for six years, now.  And the results are…interesting.  In the classic Hindi sense of the term.

Wednesday, 11/17: Close Shaves: Close races are the most interesting.  For everyone.  Including you, if you’re reading this series.

Friday, 11/19: The Hay They Make: So what does the media and the Twin Cities political establishment do with these numbers?

Monday, 11/22: A Million’s A Crowd:  Attention, statisticians:  Raw data!  Suitable for cloudsourcing!

The Great Poll Scam, Part IV: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!

The Hubert H. Humphrey Institute is a combination public-policy study program and think tank at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.  Named for the patriarch of the Democratic Farmer-Labor party – a forties-era amalgamation of traditional Democrats and neo-wobbly Farmer-Labor Union members whose Stalinist elements Humphrey famously purged in the mid-forties – the institution serves as a clearinghouse of soft-left chanting points and a retirement program for mostly left-of-center politicians and heelers.

The Institute has been doing general public opinion polling for years; in 2004, in conjunction with Minnesota Public Radio, they dove into the horserace game.

Let’s just sum up their performance in each of the five Presidential, Gubernatorial and Senate races they’ve polled in that time:

2004 Presidential Race

  • HHH Poll:  Kerry 43, Bush 37
  • Actual Election Results: Kerry 51, Bush 47
  • Bush underrepresented by 10.61, Kerry by 8.09.

2006 Gubernatorial Race]

  • HHH Poll: Hatch 45, Pawlenty 40
  • Actual Election Results: Pawlenty 46.45.
  • Pawlenty underrepresented by six, Hatch polled accurately.

2006 Senate Race

  • HHH Poll: Klobuchar 54, Kennedy 34
  • Actual Election Results: Klobuchar 58.06, Kennedy 37.94
  • Kennedy underpolled by 3.94, Klobuchar by 4.06 – but it was a blowout.  We’ll come back to this.

2008 Presidential Election

  • HHH Poll: Obama 56, Mccain 37
  • Actual Election Results: Obama 54.2, McCain 44.
  • Obama overrepresented almost two points; McCain, almost seven points under. A ten point race was portrayed as a 20 point landslide.

2008 US Senate Race

  • HHH Poll: Franken 41, Coleman 37
  • Actual Election Results: Franken by 41.99 to 41.98.
  • Franken underrepresented by less than a point; Coleman, by almost five.  A tie race was portayed as a convincing five points beat-down.

2010 Governor Race

  • HHH Poll: Dayton 41, Emmer 29.
  • Actual Election: Dayton 43.63, Emmer 43.21, recount in progress.
  • A tie race was depicted as a 12 point blowout.

A polling guru will say that these gross inaccuracies are a function of the Humphrey’s likely voter model – which for whatever reason assumed in each case that Democrats were much more likely to vote than Republicans, and likely to make up a greater portion of the electorate.

And yet the Humphrey Institute’s heuristics – the procedural, institutional and methodological rules by which institutions develop intelligence about things like voter behavior – seem to be stuck, for whatever reason, in the eighties.  The average HHH poll shows Republican candidates to be polling over five and a half points lower than Democrats in their real-life election performances.


In five of the six races covered above, the errors in measurement underrepresented the GOP.  It’s an figure lower than that of the “Minnesota Poll” only because they’ve been in business sixty years fewer than the Strib’s poll.

Why would this be?

More next week.

In our next installment: I’ve shown you the behavior of both polls in horseraces across the board.  But a particularly interesting bit of behavior comes out if you throw out the blowouts – the 30 point massacre in the 1994 Governor race, the 20 points slaughter in the 2006 Senate contest – and focus on the tight races.

More on Wednesday.


\The series so far:

Monday, 11/8: Introduction.

Wednesday, 11/10: Polling Minnesota – The sixty-six year history of the Strib’s Minnesota Poll. It offers some surprises.

Friday, 11/12: Daves, Goliath:  Rob Daves ran the Minnesota Poll from 1987 ’til 2007.  And the statistics during that era have a certain…consistency?

Monday, 11/15: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!:  The Humphrey Institute has been polling Minnesota for six years, now.  And the results are…interesting.  In the classic Hindi sense of the term.

Wednesday, 11/17: Close Shaves: Close races are the most interesting.  For everyone.  Including you, if you’re reading this series.

Friday, 11/19: The Hay They Make: So what does the media and the Twin Cities political establishment do with these numbers?

Monday, 11/22: A Million’s A Crowd:  Attention, statisticians:  Raw data!  Suitable for cloudsourcing!

The Great Poll Scam, Part III: Daves, Goliath

Rob Daves took over the Minnesota Poll in 1987.

Rob Daves

Rob Daves

I have never met Rob Daves.  Either, to the best of my knowledge, has anyone else.  I don’t know that his alt-media bete noir, Scott Johnson, has even met him, despite not a few requests for interviews.

I have no idea what Rob Daves thinks, believes, wants, says or does.  I know nothing about his personal life, and I really don’t want or need to.  For all I know, he’s a perfectly wonderful human being.

But for a 20 year period under his direction, the Minnesota Poll turned into an epic joke.

How epic?

The numbers don’t lie.


During the Rob Daves years, party politics in Minnesota skittered all over the map.  The governors office started DFL, changed hands, and maybe have changed back last week – we’ll see.  The Reagan/Bush 41 era seesawed to Clinton, then Dubya, and now Obama; both Senate seats started Republican; both switched to the DFL, eventually.

There has, in short, been a lot of variety, at least in terms of the Party ID winning the various elections.

But the Minnesota Poll has been oddly homogenous.

Throughout the Rob Daves era, the Democratic or DFL candidate in Presidential, Gubernatorial and Senate races has gotten an average of 45.68% of the vote, to 45.21% for the GOP.  That’s very, very close.

Some of the races have been blowouts – Amy Klobuchar’s 20 point drubbing of Mark Kennedy, Arne Carlson’s 30 point hammering of John Marty – and some, like our 2008 Senate and 2010 Governor races, have been (or still are) painfully close.

But you’d never know it from the Minnesota poll. The average vote totals – between the blowouts and upsets and squeakers – during Daves’ 1987-2007 tenure favored the DFL, barely, by 45.98 to 45.34%.  But the Minnesota Polls released just before all those elections showed the population favoring the DFL by 43.33 to 39.89%.

And of 18 total contests, the polling inaccuracies skewed in the direction of the DFL in 15.   The average skew toward the DFL came to almost three percentage points.

When you break things out, the differences get wider; in the five Presidential elections, the Minnesota Poll discerned a 49.67 to 36% DFL lead; the actual results were 50.13 to 41.64%.  The Minnesota Poll underrepresented the GOP by an average of 5.64% in Presidential elections during the Daves years.   The Strib Poll showed every single GOP candidate coming up short of his actual election performance:  George HW Bush polled 3.80% light; Dole, 7.00%;  Dubya, 8.50 and 6.61; McCain also polled seven points under his real performance.  The Democrats, on the other hand, seemed to be polled fairly accurately; the average error poll  and election for Democratic presidential candidates was less than half a point.

The Senate races are a little closer – the Republicans underperform the election results 4.29% to 3.14%, a difference of 1.15% under their election results, which isn’t very significant – if you just look at raw numbers.  Well come back to that next Wednesday.

In the Gubernatorial races during the Daves years, though, the polling results were pretty lockstep. In gubernatorial races since 1987, the GOP has outpolled the DFL by an average of 46.77 to 38.91% – including one huge blowout (1994) and several squeakers.  But the Minnesota Poll has shown Minnesotans’ preferences at 40.17 to 36.67 in favor of the GOP.  Republicans’ performance was underpolled by 6.6% in the Minnesota poll – that of the DFL by only 2.24%.  The Minnesota poll showed Minnesotans underselecting Republicans by almost triple the margin of the actual elections.

A classic – and large – example was the 2002 Governor race.  The election-eve Minnesota Poll showed Pawlenty tipping Moe by 35-32.  The real margin was 44-36.  While the poll oversampled Independence Party candidate Tim Penny by a fairly impressive margin, the fact is that while the final MN Poll undershot Moe’s support by 4%, it underrepresented Pawlenty’s by nine solid points.

All in all, of the 20 Presidential, Senate and Gubernatorial races during the Daves era, 16 of them showed the Minnesota Poll underpolling the GOP by a greater degree than the DFL.

And that’s just counting all the races.


Daves was let go at the Strib in 2007.  The Minnesota Poll was taken over by “Princeton Research Study Group”, which also does polling for Newsweek (whose polling is generally considered atrocious).

The 2008 races were very different, of course; the Senate race was a virtual tie, while Obama beat McCain handily.

But the day before the election, the Minnesota poll said McCain was polling just 37%; he ended up with 44%.  It overestimated Obama’s support by under a point, calling him at 55% when he got 54.2%.  The Minnesota Poll sandbagged Mac by seven points.

And Franken v. Coleman?   The day before the election, the poll showed Coleman almost four points below his actual performance (38% versus 41.98) ; it nailed Franken almost dead-on (42% i the poll, 41.99% by the time the recount was over).

PRSA showed both GOP candidates performing drastically off their real pace on election eve.

And three weeks ago, a week before the gubernatorial election, the Minnesota Poll showed Emmer at 34%; he got 43.21%.  Nine points better than the Minnesota poll indicated.

The upshot?  Of the 20 total election contests in the Rob Daves and PRSA eras, the Minnesota Poll has underpolled GOP support in 17 – 85% – of those races.

And PRSA polling has, on average, underpolled the GOP by 6.12% in those three elections.   In other words, PRSA’s errors have favored the DFL to the tune of six points – which is more than the three-plus points of the Rob Daves era.

One might think that random statistics would scatter on both sides of the middle more or less equally.  And in the first 42 years of the Minnesota poll, in aggregate, they did, as we showed Wednesday.

But during the Daves years, and continuing with PRSA, the errors developed a consistency – shorting Republicans – and grew in magnitude.


Of course, those averages hide some big swings; some races in those averages were real blowouts.

It’s been my theory that the Minnesota Poll’s “peculiarities” are most pronounced during close elections.

We’ll test that out next Wednesday, when we’ll examine races that were decided by the proverbial cat’s whisker.

First – Monday – we’ll meet the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute Poll.


The series so far:

Monday, 11/8: Introduction.

Wednesday, 11/10: Polling Minnesota – The sixty-six year history of the Strib’s Minnesota Poll. It offers some surprises.

Friday, 11/12: Daves, Goliath:  Rob Daves ran the Minnesota Poll from 1987 ’til 2007.  And the statistics during that era have a certain…consistency?

Monday, 11/15: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!:  The Humphrey Institute has been polling Minnesota for six years, now.  And the results are…interesting.

Wednesday, 11/17: Close Shaves: Close races are the most interesting.  For everyone.  Including you, if you’re reading this series.

Friday, 11/19: The Hay They Make: So what does the media and the Twin Cities political establishment do with these numbers?

Monday, 11/22: A Million’s A Crowd:  Attention, statisticians:  Raw data!  Suitable for cloudsourcing!

MN Poll Result: 42.79 Elecction Result;: 46.61 Difference: -3.83   MN Poll Result: 49.62 Elecction Result;: 50.97 Difference: -1.35   Total/Lean DFL 21.00 13.00 0.62 Average Skew: 2.48

The Great Poll Scam, Part II: Polling Minnesota

My interest in the Minnesota Poll as an individual institution started right about the time I started this blog, six or eight years ago.

Now bear in mind that I, Mitch Berg, have made skepticism of the media at least a hobby, if not a fringey living, since 1986.  I have believed that the media needed to be distrusted and then verified for pretty much my entire adult life.

And yet until very recently, I maintained, if not a naive faith in the public opinion polling about elections, at least a detached sense that, somehow or other, they all evened out.   It was the same naivete that we all have about where babies and Christmas presents come from when we’re nine, or how entitlements get paid for when we’re 18 (50 for Minnesota government employees), or how sausage and bacon are made.

Ignorance is, indeed, bliss.

The scales started falling from my eyes when I started reading PowerLine.  Scott Johnson has been keeping his eye of the MNPoll for most of a decade, now; he’s led the pack of Minnesota bloggers in documenting the poll’s abuses.

And in reading the history of conservative criticism of the Minnesota Poll, I started wondering – what is the historical context?

There’s more of it than I’d figured.


The Star Tribune started running public opinion polling of the Minnesota electorate in 1944.  It’s polled Minnesotans over a variety of topics, but the marquee subjects are always the big three elections – State Governor, US Senate and Presidential elections.

Now, if you’ve lived in Minnesota in the past fifty years or so (I go back half of that time – I moved here in ’85), it’s hard to believe that Minnesota used to be a largely Republican state.  Of course, the Republicans we had up until very recently were the type that make the likes of Lori Sturdevant grunt with approval – “progressive” Republicans like Elmer Anderson and Wheelock Whitney and the like.

I bring this up to note that while the various parties have changed – Republicans used to be “progressive”, Democrats used to be “America First” – that Minnesota party politics for the past 66 years have been a little more evenly-matched than current political consciousness – shaped as its been by Humphrey and Mondale and “Minnesota Miracle” and Wellstone and Carlson – might make you believe.

Now, if you look at the Minnesota Poll’s statistics for the past 66 years – going back to the 1944 elections, for Governor, Senator and President – the Minnesota Poll is actually fairly even.  In that time, Republicans have gotten an average of 46.85 percent of the vote for all those offices, to 49.37% for DFLers.  During that time, the Minnesota Poll’s “election eve” predictions have averaged 44.1% for Republicans, and 46.77% for Democrats.  That means that over history, the big final Minnesota Poll has shown Republicans doing 2.75 points worse than they turned out, with DFLers coming in 2.59 points worse than they finally turned out.  The results have tended to be, over the course of 66 years, infinitesimally more accurate – .16% – for Democrats.  It’s insignificant, truly.

Indeed, when you go through the numbers from the forties and the fifties, you can see some blogger back in 1958 decrying two things – the lack of an internet to blog on, and a serious pro-Republican bias in the Minnesota poll; in polls run before 1960, the Minnesota poll predicted Republicans would get 51.58, while GOP candidates for the big three offices actually got 50.32% of the vote – the poll overestimated Republicans by an average of 1.26%.  The DFL got an average of 49.73% of the vote during those years, while the Minnesota Poll had them at an average of 43.51% –  which is 6.22% lower than they actually turned out doing (although this number gets inflated by a truly horrible performance in the 1948 Gubernatorial election, where the MNPoll had John Halstead at 25% in their pre-election poll; he ended up losing, but with 45%. That had to be frustrating).  In all, before 1960, the Strib “Minnesota Poll”‘s pre-election poll overestimated the GOP’s performance compared to the DFL’s in 76% of elections; the poll’s overestimates favored the GOP by an average of almost 7.5%.

By the mid-sixties, of course, Minnesota politics changed drastically; by the middle of the decade, the golden age of “progressive” politics and the DFL, led by the likes of Hubert H. Humphrey and Walter Mondale for the DFL, and Elmer Anderson for the GOP, left Minnesota a very different state.  During those years – from about 1966, after Barry Goldwater re-introduced a partisan divide to national politics for the first time, really, since the war – the DFL won the average vote 50.97 to 46.61.  The Minnesota Poll predicted DFL victories, on average, of 49.62 to 42.79; they underreported the final support for Republicans by an average of 3.83%, and DFLers by 1.35%, an average skew of almost 2.5% in favor of the DFL.

But if you look at the actual elections covered in those years – from 1966 to 1990, the “Golden Age of the DFL” – of the 21 contests for President, Governor and Senator, the Minnesota Poll showed the Democrat doing better than they turned out doing by a greater margin than the Republican in 13 of the elections, and inflating the GOP candidates results in eight.  The 1980 Presidential election skewed things a bit – the MNPoll underestimated Jimmy Carter’s performance by 12.5% (Carter got 46.5%, while the MNPoll predicted 34%; it also overestimated Reagan’s performance by a little over a point, leading to one of the biggest pro-Republican skews in the recent history of the Minnesota Poll).

Overall, for the entire history of the Minnesota Poll from 1944 to 1986, the Minnesota Poll showed the public voting, on election eve, for the DFL by a 48.25% to 46.34% average margin; the actual elections favored the DFL to 51.10 47.81; the poll underpolled Republicans by a 1.47% average, and Democrats by an average of 2.85%.  Of the 41 total contests in that time, the DFL was overestimated by a greater margin than the GOP in 44% of the polls – again, not a really significant number.

In other words, the poll’s statistical vicissitudes were fairly balanced through its first 42 years.

But in 1987, the Strib hired Rob Daves to run the Minnesota Poll.

And things would change.


The series so far:

Monday, 11/8: Introduction.

Wednesday, 11/10: Polling Minnesota – The sixty-six year history of the Strib’s Minnesota Poll. It offers some surprises.

Friday, 11/12: Daves, Goliath:  Rob Daves ran the Minnesota Poll from 1987 ’til 2007.  And the statistics during that era have a certain…consistency?

Monday, 11/15: Hubert, You Magnificent Bastard, I Read Your Numbers!:  The Humphrey Institute has been polling Minnesota for six years, now.  And the results are…interesting.

Wednesday, 11/17: Close Shaves: Close races are the most interesting.  For everyone.  Including you, if you’re reading this series.

Friday, 11/19: The Hay They Make: So what does the media and the Twin Cities political establishment do with these numbers?

Monday, 11/22: A Million’s A Crowd:  Attention, statisticians:  Raw data!  Suitable for cloudsourcing!

MN Poll Result: 42.79 Elecction Result;: 46.61 Difference: -3.83   MN Poll Result: 49.62 Elecction Result;: 50.97 Difference: -1.35   Total/Lean DFL 21.00 13.00 0.62 Average Skew: 2.48

The Great Poll Scam: Introduction

The weekend before the election, I was talking with a friend – a woman who has become a newly-minted conservative in the past two years.  She’d sat out the 2008 election, and had voted for Kerry in ’04, but finally became alarmed about the state of this nation’s future – she’s got kids – and got involved with the Tea Party and started paying attention to politics.  And she was going to vote conservative.  Not Republican, mind you, but conservative.

And the Saturday before the election, she sounded discouraged.  “Have you seen the polls?” she asked.  “Emmer’s gonna get clobbered”.

I set her straight, of course – referred her to my blog posts debunking the election-eve Humphrey and Minnesota polls.and showing her the Emmer campaign internal poll that showed the race a statistical dead heat (which, obviously, was the most correct poll before election day).

She left the room feeling better.  She voted for Emmer.  And she voted for her Republican candidates in her State House and Senate districts, duly helping flip her formerly blue district to the good guys and helping gut Dayton’s agenda, should he (heaven forefend) win the recount.

But I walked away from that meeting asking myself – what about all the thousands of newly-minted conservatives who don’t have the savvy or inclination to check the cross-tabs?  The thousands who saw those polls, and didn’t have access to a fire-breathing conservative talk show host with a keen BS detector who’s learned to read the fine print?

How many votes did Tom Emmer lose because of the Hubert H. Humphrey and Minnesota polls that showed him trailing by insurmountable margins?

How many votes to conservatives and Republicans lose in every election due to these polls’ misreporting?

Why do these two polls seem so terribly error-prone?  And why do those errors always seem to favor the Democrats, with the end result of discouraging Republican voters?



Public opinion polling is the alchemy of the post-renaissance age.  Especially “likely voter” polling; every organization that runs a poll has a different way of taking the hundreds or thousands of responses they get, and classifying the respondents as “likely” or not to vote, and tabulating those results into a snapshot of how people are thinking about an election at a given moment.

But the Star Tribune’s Minnesota Poll has, to the casual observer, a long history of coming out with polls that seem to short Republicans – especially conservative ones – every single election.  And the relative newcomer to the regional polling game, the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute’s poll done in conjunction with Minnesota Public Radio, seems – again, anecdotally (so far) to take that same approach and supercharge it.

I’ve had this discussion in the past – David Brauer of the MinnPost and I had a bit of a back and forth on the subject, on-line and on the Northern Alliance one Saturday about a month ago.

And so it occurred to me – it’s easy to come up with anecdotes, one way or another.  But how do the numbers really stack up?   If you dig into the actual numbers for the Humphrey Institute and the Minnesota Poll, what do they say?

I’ll be working on that for the next couple of weeks.  Here’s the plan:

The DFL Morale Builder, Part II

The Star Tribune‘s “Minnesota Poll” continues to serve its primary function – manipulating voter turnout.

As always with the MNPoll, the marquee numbers are nearly meaningless;

Dayton has strengthened his lead to 41 percent, according to the poll, followed by Emmer at 34 percent. Horner, who has struggled to get out of the teens in all public polls, is at 13 percent. That’s down from a peak of 18 percent last month.

The poll was conducted between Oct. 18 and 21 among 999 likely Minnesotans voters on both land-line and cell phones. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

No, it’s the crosstab numbers that matter  It’s buried on the second page of the online report, naturally:

In this poll, the sample of likely voters consisted of 34 percent Democrats, 31 percent independents and 30 percent Republicans.

Four percent overpoll of Democrats?  This year?

The poll is of 999 “likely voters” – and it’s there that the methodology goes from “reporting” to , as David Brauer puts it, the “secret sauce”.

[the poll is] based on 804 land-line and 402 cell phone interviews conducted Oct. 18-21 with a representative sample of Minnesota adults. Of that sample, 999 were deemed to be likely voters, and the poll results are based on those respondents.

And there’s the detail in which the Devil is.  How does Princeton Research (the company that actually does the Strib’s polling) take those 1,200 likely voters and “deem” 1,000 or so of them to be “likely”?

We don’t know.  None of the major pollsters will say.

The article, by Rachel Stassen-Berger, goes on to squeeze in a puff piece for Dayton.

We really know two things:

The Minnesota Poll has, for a generation, always shown Republicans behind the week before the election, sometimes by ludicrious amounts, when they went on to win.

And the Minnesota Poll’s errors immediately before elections inevitably appear designed to drive down Republican turnout in elections that every other pollster in the business shows to be incredibly tightly contested.

It is time for someone to investigate the Strib’s polling operations, both under Princeton Research and, before 2007, under Rob Daves.  If Emmer wins – and I predict he will, by a three point margin – it’ll be further proof that the Minnesota poll is nothing a get out the DFL vote/suppress the GOP vote effort.

The deniablity is plausible – but only just.

Chanting Points Memo: Garbage In, Garbage Out

Mark Dayton has run one of the single dumbest campaigns in Minnesota history.

Dayton himself has been a virtual non-entity, relying on the Twin Cities’ media’s inability and/or unwillingness to question him on  his background, the immense gaps in his budget “plan”, his history of erratic behavior…anything.

His surrogates have been another matter entirely; “Alliance for a Better Minnesota” – whose financing, almost exclusively from big union donors and members and ex-members of Mark Dayton’s family of trust fund babies – has run the slimiest, most defamatory campaign in Minnesota political history.   From mischaracterizing Emmer’s “DUI” record and slandering his efforts to reform Minnesota DUI laws, to their outright lies about his budget, ABM has profaned this state’s politics in a way that I only hope can be salvaged in the future – although I doubt this will happen until the DFL decays to third-party status.

If it were a Republican group doing it, the Dems would be whining about “voter intimidation”.

The Dayton campaign, in short, has been not so much a campaign as an attempt to orchestrate negative projected PR, social inertia and the ignorance of most voters to their advantage.  It hasn’t been a dumb campaign, per se;  when your job is to sell Mark Dayton, “The Bumbler”, desperate situations call for desperate measures.  And as we saw in 1998, there are enough stupid people do make anything possible.

A big part of Dayton’s under-the-table campaign has been to portray the impression that Dayton’s coronation is inevitable.  If your nature is to be suspicious of institutions with long, arguably circumstantial records of bias, one might see the Minnesota Poll as an instrument toward that aim – given its three-decade record of showing DFLers doing an average of 7.5% better than they ended up doing.   (If you favor the Democrats, you might say the same about Rasmussen – if you ignored the fact that they’ve been consistently the most accurate major pollster for the last couple of cycles.  Other than that, just the same thing).

The latest chapter in this campaign has been the regional DFLbloggers’ chanting the latest results from Nate Silver’s “Five Thirty Eight”, a political stats-blog that was bought out by the NYTimes a while back.

Silver’s latest look at the Minnesota gubernatorial race gives Dayton an 83% chance of winning, in a six point race.

And that’s where the Sorosbloggers leave it.

Of course, Silver’s analysis on its face has a margin of error of a little over eight points – which is  – considerably larger than the forecast margin.

Of course, with any statistical, numerical output, you have to ask yourself – “are the inputs correct?”

Here are Silver’s inputs:

Courtesy 538/New York Times

Courtesy 538/New York Times

The important column is the “538 Poll Weight” column, the third from the right.  It shows how much weight Silver gives each poll in his final calculation.  The number is at least partly tied to time – but not completely; for some reason, the five-week old Survey USA poll gets 20% more weight than the four week old Rasmussen poll; the October 6 Rasmussen poll that showed Emmer with a one point lead gets about 3/4 the oomph of the latest Survey USA poll, which showed Dayton with a five point lead…

…and whose “likely voter model” seemed to think that Democrats are four points more likely to show up at the polls that Republicans.  This year.

Pollsters – and Silver – are fairly cagey about their methodology.  I’m not a statistics wiz.  I dropped the class after one week, in fact.  But I can tell when something isn’t passing the stink test.  Any poll that gives Democrats a four point edge in turnout this year may or may not be wishful thinking (we’ll find out in less than two weeks, won’t we?), but does seem to be based more on history than current behavior which, I should point out, involves a lot of hocus-pocus to predict during a normal election.

And this is not a normal election.

I’m not going to impugn Nate Silver, per se – if only because I haven’t the statistical evidence.  Yet.

I will, impugn the NYTimes, but then that’s what I do.  They very much do want to drive down Republican turnout.

And that is the main reason the DFL machine – including the ranks of more-or-less kept leftybloggers in this state – are parrotting this “story” so dutifully.  They want to convince Republicans that all is lost.

Pass the word, folks.  We’re gonna win this thing.