Public Policy Polling Owes Louisiana Republicans An Apology

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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