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Washington Post admits polling was “in-kind contribution”; New York Times agenda polling.
(Page 6 of 6)
The obvious answer is called to mind by a polling story from four years later involving Ronald Reagan and his next opponent, Jimmy Carter’s vice president Walter Mondale.
By 1984, Reagan was an extremely popular incumbent president. He was running well everywhere against Mondale. But suddenly, up popped a curious Washington Post poll that indicated Reagan’s 1980 margin of over 16% in California had dropped precipitously to single digits. Nancy Reagan was alarmed, calling campaign manager Ed Rollins (full disclosure, my former boss) and saying, “You have to do something.”
Rollins disagreed, as he later wrote in his memoirs Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics.
A Californian himself Rollins was certain Reagan was just fine in California. The Reagan campaign’s own polls (run by Reagan’s longtime pollster Dick Wirthlin) showed Reagan with a “rock-solid” lead. After all, said Rollins, “Californians knew Ronald Reagan, and either loved him or hated him. He’d been on the ballot there six times and never lost.” The Post poll data made no sense. But Mrs. Reagan was insistent, so Rollins ordered up another (expensive) poll from Dick Wirthlin. Rollins also dispatched longtime Reagan aide and former White House political director Lyn Nofziger, a Californian as well, back to the Reagan home precincts. More phone banks were ordered up. In all, a million dollars of campaign money that could have been spent on Minnesota — Mondale’s home state where the ex-Minnesota Senator was, remarkably, struggling — was spent on California because of the Washington Post poll.
A few weeks later, the Washington Post ran a story that confirmed Rollins’ initial beliefs. The Post confessed that… well… oops… it had made a mistake with those California polling numbers. Shortly afterward came the November election, with California once again giving Reagan a more than 16 point victory. In fact, Reagan carried 49 states, winning the greatest landslide victory in presidential history while losing Minnesota in — yes — a close race. Mondale had 49.72% to Reagan’s 49.54%, a difference of .18% that might have been changed by all that money that went into California. Making Reagan the first president in history to win all fifty states.
After the election, Ed Rollins ran into the Washington Post’s blunt-speaking editor Ben Bradlee and “harassed” Bradlee “about his paper’s lousy polling methodology.”
Bradlee’s “unrepentant” response?
“Tough sh…t, Rollins, I’m glad it cost you plenty. It’s my in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign.”
So the questions for 2012.
How corrupt are all these polls showing Obama leading or in a “close race”?
Are they to Obama what that California poll of the Washington Post was for Walter Mondale — an “in-kind contribution”?
Is that in fact what was going on with the New York Times in 1980? An “in-kind contribution” to the Carter campaign from the Times?
What can explain all these polls today — like the ones discussed here at NBC where the Obama media cheerleaders make their TV home? Polls that the Obama media groupies insist show Obama 1 point up in Florida or 4 points in North Carolina or 5 points in Pennsylvania. And so on and so on.
How does one explain a president who, like Jimmy Carter in 1980, is increasingly seen as a disaster in both economic and foreign policy? How does a President Obama, with a Gallup job approval rating currently at 49% — down a full 20% from 2009 — mysteriously win the day in all these polls?
How does this happen?
Can you say “in-kind contribution”?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?