Referring to the poll yesterday purporting to show Obama and Clinton dragging down freshman Democrats in "frontline" districts, Atrios responds by calling it a propaganda poll:
They're sort of right, but I just called it that because it didn't really fit any of the categories neatly. It isn't really a push poll, but nor is it a "message testing" poll as suggested. It's a "conduct a badly worded poll designed to get a specific answer in order to get your willing pals at the Washington Post to get the result you want out into the press" poll. So, fine, not a push poll. A propaganda poll.
In so far as the poll was conducted in order to prompt a negative article about Clinton and Obama in the press, it was indeed a propaganda poll. However, I would like to throw in two caveats. First, the actual poll question seems to be a pretty accurate rendering of what we should expect from the Republican Noise Machine in key Congressional districts:
Some people say (YOUR DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT) is a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and will support her liberal agenda of big government and higher taxes if she becomes President. If we re-elect (YOUR DEMOCRATIC INCUMBENT) they will be a rubber stamp for Clinton and will forget the values of our district.
After hearing this if the election for U.S. Congress were held today, would you vote for [ROTATE] _the Republican candidate OR _(the Democratic incumbent), or are you undecided?
Some people, Hillary Clinton, liberal agenda, big government, higher taxes, values of our district… I've seen variations of this attack for years, and I have no doubt we will see it again in 2008. So, in that sense, it is a message testing poll, just one that was conducted with the purpose of leaking it to the press.
The second caveat is how talking heads and the media who dutifully followed through in writing / talking about this poll missed the obvious conclusion to take from the results: it doesn't matter who the Democratic nominee is in these districts. While Obama performs nine points better than Clinton in a trial heat against Giuliani, the Republican attack listed above results in exactly the same drag on local Dems no matter if Obama or Clinton is the nominee. In both cases, as I discussed yesterday, a nineteen point Democratic lead drops to six points. This is a classic double-blind test. Obama is more popular in these districts than Clinton (or at least less disliked), and yet the exact same message has exactly the same impact on local Dems whether he or Clinton is the nominee. The conclusion that should be obvious for anyone with even a modicum of analytical ability is that Clinton and Obama are irrelevant in the question, and that the message, in a vacuum, will have the same impact no matter who the Democratic nominee is.
This poll clearly shows that all Democratic nominees would have the same impact on down ticket Democrats. It is in this way that a poll attempting to prove that Clinton and / or Obama would hurt down ticket Democrats actually did the opposite. This is clear evidence contradicting the longstanding charge that Clinton would hurt Democrats down-ticket more than other potential Democratic nominees. That, actually, is big news. If our media was actually operated by "serious" people with the ability to correctly answer a standard GRE type question, that would have been the story, too. If I were Clinton or Obama, I would mention this obvious analytical lapse the next time I was discussing my education plan. I am not usually this harsh, but I have to say that stupidity like this is damaging America. What else can one call such an obvious case of analytical illiteracy?