The Hayride

Public Policy Polling Owes Louisiana Republicans An Apology

Public Policy Polling Owes Louisiana Republicans An Apology
August 21
16:05 2013

Actually, an apology really isn’t sufficient for what they did over the weekend.

PPP, which is a left-wing outfit specializing in lots of push-polling and other Democrat electioneering disguised as opinion surveys, conducted a five-question survey to 274 Louisiana Republicans from Aug. 16-19, ostensibly asking for those respondents’ presidential primary choice between Rand Paul, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Susanna Martinez.

A sample of 274 people is virtually useless with that many options available.

But the real question PPP wanted an answer to was this:

Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?

This, of course, was a cheap shot. If you ask the vast majority of Louisiana Republicans to identify the leader most responsible for the Katrina response you’re going to get Kathleen Blanco and Ray Nagin as the answer. Replacing those two on the ballot with Barack Obama so that the only choices available are Bush, Obama or “not sure” is malpractice, and mean-spirited malpractice at that.

And of course, PPP got more or less what they were looking for out of that poll. Because 28 percent of the respondents said Bush was more responsible than Obama, 29 percent said Obama and 44 percent saw through the question and answered “not sure.”

It’s a trick bag, of course. Given the ridiculous structure of the question, the only answer you could give was that Bush, who was in office at the time Katrina hit in 2005, bears more responsibility than Obama. The question was designed to force Louisiana Republicans to trash the former president in “It’s Bush’s fault” fashion.

And that was transparently obvious to the respondents. Anybody could see what they were trying to do.

So 72 percent of those polled basically told PPP to do something anatomically impossible. 44 percent chose the most non-responsive response they could, which was to say “not sure.” And the other 29 percent went even further and gave the in-your-face answer of Obama.

Naturally, that worked fine for PPP. Here’s the headline they managed to generate out of it…

Poll: Louisiana GOPers Unsure If Katrina Response Was Obama’s Fault

PPP’s pals at Talking Points Memo really had their fun under the headline…

A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office.

The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, provided exclusively to TPM, showed an eye-popping divide among Republicans in the Bayou State when it comes to accountability for the government’s post-Katrina blunders.

Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren’t sure who to blame.

To call this a dishonest and disgusting move is to be overly charitable. PPP ought to apologize, and the state GOP establishment ought to call for Louisiana Republicans to refuse to take part in any poll PPP does until they do.

This sophomoric and petty move wasn’t the extent of what PPP has been up to in Louisiana of late. PPP also released a poll showing Mary Landrieu up 50-40 on Bill Cassidy in next year’s Senate race, using a sample that would fit right in with the laughable Anzalone polls Charlie Melancon was releasing in an effort to keep his hopeless campaign against David Vitter look relevant back in 2010.

The Senate poll claims to have a sample which is 45 percent Democrat, 36 percent Republican. But it doesn’t ask whether the respondents were registered D or R or if they identified with D or R. That’s an important distinction which is lost, as Ward Baker, the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s political director, notes…

And, by “the best of circumstances” I mean that the truth is far worse for the incumbent Democratic Senator from Louisiana. As we have come to expect from PPP polling in red states, there is a continued failure to understand the difference between party ID and party registration. While both are legitimate methods to measure an electorate, they are far from interchangeable despite PPPs seeming insistence otherwise.

Allow me to explain… in Louisiana a person registers as a Republican or a Democrat (or neither). However, over the course of time, many registered Democrats in LA (and in KY and NC where PPP has the same problem) have come to consider themselves Republicans as the GOP is more in line with their thinking and preferences. The challenge for pollsters is that they have not actually changed their registration. Thus we have party ID (what a voter considers themselves to be) and party registration (what a voter is listed as on paper) as two separate measures.

Take, for example, a recent publicly published poll from Magellan Strategies conducted in Louisiana, the party registration (“Regardless of how you feel today, with which party are you registered to vote?”) is D+29 while the party ID (“Regardless of your party registration, which party do you feel best represents your political point of view?”) is R+1 … IN THE SAME POLL.

Clearly, these are two very different questions. But not for PPP, who asks a party ID question, but allows their weighting to come closer to party registration. The impact is potentially up to a 13-point artificial imbalance, the poll is D+9 and the turnout in 2010 was R+4. A 13-point shift on the ballot in this poll would put Landrieu down by three, and that is a challenging slope to climb when PPP has already pointed out that the independents are likely to go against the incumbent overwhelmingly.

Baker’s criticisms aren’t going to make anybody at PPP change the way they do business.

Because PPP isn’t about getting anything right. PPP, and its CEO Dean Debnam, is about propaganda. PPP is also about trying to stick it to us rube conservatives here in Louisiana.

Fine. If that’s how it’s going to be, and if they won’t acknowledge and repent for the insult, then it’s time to give it back to them.

If a pollster calls you to ask questions about politics, demand to know who they’re with. If they answer Public Policy Polling, hang up. You can offer whatever unpleasant sentiments come to mind beforehand, but don’t answer any of their questions. They abused that privilege over the weekend.

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  1. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth August 21, 21:28

    PPP only uses fully-automated calls, so there won't be a person on the line to talk to.

  2. Donna Gratehouse
    Donna Gratehouse August 21, 21:37

    Want some cheese with that whine?

  3. Joel Temple
    Joel Temple August 21, 21:39

    You can cry all you want obver the stupidity of.

  4. Roland Lindsey
    Roland Lindsey August 21, 21:46

    Because crying "skewed polls" worked so well last time…

  5. Kermit Hoffpauir
    Kermit Hoffpauir August 21, 22:21

    Looks like the Hayride is on OFA Astroturfing hit list.

  6. Alicia Ann
    Alicia Ann August 22, 00:09

    Are you kidding? They asked an honest qustion and got some retarded answers by people that obviously have no clue what they are talking about. But I'm pretty sure that's Obama's fault, too.

  7. Paul Balga
    Paul Balga August 22, 14:09

    That is some pretty contorted apologism.

  8. Scott McKay
    Scott McKay August 22, 14:09

    Asking whether the guy who was in the White House wasn't more responsible for Katrina than a guy who had barely found a spot on the Senate's back bench is not an "honest" question. If you can't see that you really shouldn't throw words like "retarded" around.

    Here's a question for you: who was more responsible for Benghazi, Obama or Hillary Clinton? Or are you not sure?

  9. Scott McKay
    Scott McKay August 22, 14:11

    "There is NO problem with a so-called "low birthrate". We do not need to be adding infinite numbers of humans to our overstrained planet. Furthermore, if we were at anything resembling full employment now you might be able to make a case for the need for 2-3X as many future workers but as technology continues to increases productivity and replaces workers outright at a rapid clip even that case would be tenuous, at best."

    Who pays for your Social Security in 30 years? When there's no money for you, you'd better not whine about it.

  10. Ryan Booth
    Ryan Booth August 22, 15:49

    When I was in high school, we had to take some ridiculous survey that many of my classmates saw no purpose in completing. So a large number of them decided to have some fun with it. They said that they were of Hawaiian ancestry, etc.

    If your poll asks dumb questions, you'll get dumb answers.

  11. Jason Esteves
    Jason Esteves August 22, 16:42

    I'd say it was Senate republicans fault for cutting their security budget

  12. Michael D. Day
    Michael D. Day August 22, 18:41

    over a year till the election and these far right wing bloggers are making excuses for the self proclaimed doctor to the poor already?

  13. Scott McKay
    Scott McKay August 22, 18:45

    Earning that union check the hard way again, eh Michael?

  14. Scott McKay
    Scott McKay August 22, 18:45

    Paul, who was more responsible for Benghazi, Obama or Hillary Clinton? Or are you not sure?

  15. David Moore
    David Moore August 23, 18:53

    As a long-time pollster, I am appalled at the trick question PPP used. My reaction is not a partisan one — I'm willing to criticize polls of whatever bent when they do not represent good polling practices. You can see my comments on ( As I say at the end of the post, PPP should apologize for this tricky poll.

  16. Donna Gratehouse
    Donna Gratehouse August 24, 04:15

    And what guarantee of future jobs are there for all those extra babies you insist on being born, Scott? That's leaving aside the problem of the destruction of our environment.

  17. Jerry Blackburn
    Jerry Blackburn August 27, 13:30

    Darn those sneaky pollsters and their tricky questions! They should know better than to expect people to think critically! It's just plain unAmerican I tell you! Then again, maybe PPP should take a page from Frank Luntz and FOX News and just ignore the results they don't like or call up some pals over at Unskewed polls to just "fix" the numbers so they are more palatable, though quite likely less accurate.

    “The published polls that the Romney campaign and the Republican establishment were trashing day after day turned out to be accurate. […] This is a bad day for establishment pollsters and it’s something they should be held accountable for. You have to tell your clients the truth. And you have to be accurate. And to miss so many states and to be this far off – Your Fox News viewers ought to be outraged, because day in and day out they were told that Mitt Romney was going to win.” – Frank Luntz.

  18. Steven Brandt
    Steven Brandt September 06, 03:38

    I'm waiting to hear how this theory answers the question, "If the poll respondents were so offended or confused by the question, why didn't they just hang up the phone?" Given that they not only stayed on the line to answer the question, but completed three more poll questions after that, respondents sure went to a lot of trouble to sound like idiots.

  19. James M. Barber
    James M. Barber November 10, 23:50

    Scott McKay No the question would be, who is more responsible Obama or Boehner…. its closer to the question asked in this case, and it would help make you look like an intelligent thinker, rather than some hate filled asshole who doesn't know what he's talking about.

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