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Pushy Polls

GOP gubernatorial candidates accused of massaging the message in the numbers

By Richard Whittaker, 4:33PM, Sat. Jan. 9, 2010

Hutchison and Perry: Internal numbers getting a lot of external play
Hutchison and Perry: Internal numbers getting a lot of external play

Who is winning in the three-way Republican gubernatorial primary between Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and Debra Medina? Depends which campaign and which pet pollsters you ask.

Polling in this race has raised more questions than it has answered (not least because it seems that there is a hazy understanding of margins of error).

On Friday, Quorum Report was sent an internal poll from the Hutchison campaign that give her a statistically insignificant 34.9% to 32.9% lead over Perry, with Medina limping in at 2.7%.

The poll was conducted by former Bush pollster Jan van Lohuizen, who Washington Monthly called "respected but low-key, proficient but tight-lipped." However, Daily Kos has him down as the king of push pollers, and that's exactly what Medina's campaign manager Penny Langford Freeman alleged when she told QR, "This is clearly a push poll that means nothing. It was set up by Hutchison because she isn't doing any grassroots campaigning."

But it's not just Hutchison getting accused of massaging the numbers. The Wall Street Journal ran a breathless article proclaiming that 57% of Texans want Hutchison to stay in the Senate instead of moving to the mansion, and that Perry is ahead in the majority of polls. However, that list probably includes the internal one for the Perry campaign showing a 13% lead for the incumbent. The RickVsKay blog has pointed at the accidental release of the Baselice and Associates Inc. numbers as potentially being a very clumsy but very deliberate leak.

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