Did the media fail to disclose key details in the polling story & mulling over my "Crazy" theory

By Erick Posted in Comments (59) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Here's an added wrinkle in this whole phone call issue. From the Salt Lake Tribune, we have this:

Rose Kramer, a Romney supporter in Dubuque, Iowa, received a call on Tuesday evening that she said made her "very upset."

"After phone call, I told my husband I was infuriated," Kramer said. "I don't know where it's coming from but it's just not called for at all. I just don't like it at all."

Marshan Roth, of Fairfield, Iowa, got a call on Wednesday night. It started out like a regular poll, she says, but then asked positive questions about McCain and delved into disparaging things about Romney.

You'll never get this from any of the coverage, but given the uncommonness of Marshan Roth's name, I wonder if it is the same Marshan Roth who gets paid $500 a month by the Romney campaign.

Likewise, is Rose Kramer the same Rose Kramer that gets $1,000 a month from the Romney campaign?

Now, let me throw out a new theory that I've been mulling over since talking to a friend this morning.

Gage and Target Point have denied doing push polling. These calls lasted about 20 minutes according to the people who have been interviewed about them. What if these weren't push polls, but actual polling by a campaign? And the people who ran to the press were hypersensitive to the issue because they're already supporting Romney (and paid by the campaign?).

Let's get directly to my theory, which I admit is a bit off the wall. What if a campaign conducted a legitimate poll (push polls don't last 20 minutes), asked about the Mormon issues in the polling, and Romney supporters who happened to get the call ran to the media screaming about them being push polls.

Now, and here's the wild speculation on my part, what if legitimate polling was being done by the Romney campaign or a third party group or a Democrat who really doesn't care, to find out why the Romney campaign has reached an apparent ceiling in Iowa and New Hampshire and, out of an abundance of caution, wanted to see if "the Mormon factor" is actually having an impact? Because of the nature of the questions, some Mitt supporters thought they were being push polled, and the whole thing blew up.

A wild theory, I admit, but when you consider the length of time these calls lasted, they do seem to be extremely extensive to be a real push poll, which are usually as fast as they are dirty.

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Did the media fail to disclose key details in the polling story & mulling over my "Crazy" theory 59 Comments (0 topical, 59 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Let me be the first to thank you for opening a whole NEW can of worms. You like punishment, do you?

My money is still on Vladmir Putin. He's been known to engage in some pretty unsavory activity come election time. Why would he view the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire primary as off limits?

I looked into Putin's eyes and I saw the soul of a man, a soul so darked, so jaded that he would even sink to this level.

How much of a fine should the FEC levy against Putin? The equivilent of 5 nuclear warheads?

Amnesia on the part of some of Romney's paid campaign staff would explain how this could happen.

On Monday, Romney's paid staff authorize polling on questions related to Romney's religion. But by Wednesday after a heavy lunch, the Romney folks forget about what they asked to have done on Monday. By Wednesday evening, after yet more alcoholic beverages and high cholesterol foods, they receive a phone call from their own pollsters.

The next day, they complain to the media about it.

I can see how this could happen. Sure.

Not again! I guess I understand, though, considering RedState probably got thousands more hits the last time this thing ran on the front page. Here's to more ad revenue!

“.....women and minorities hardest hit”

...by doing plenty of other things.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Who are behind the Gnomes?

The Joooooossss!

“I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally.” - Jimmy "MVP" Rollins, 1/23/07

We are all heroes, you and Boo and I. Hamsters and rangers everywhere, rejoice!

Romney's campaign paid for it and did it period. I would say also that all the people in IA and NH are being paid by some campaign to do something and that is not surprising at all.

Politics is brutal nasty and dishonest and yes that's why I am jaded.

Freedom of Religion not Freedom from Religion

subsidies in Iowa as the number one industry.

Back when I worked for the SSB campaign, we noticed an article in the KC Star (which I can't find online anymore) which quoted an Iowa Republican operative named David Overholtzer saying derogatory things about the Brownback campaign. The article failed to mention that Overholtzer was a paid GOTV coordinator for Romney, and we called the paper, pretty upset about them omitting that. Turns out Overholtzer "forgot" to mention this to the KC Star and they subsequently ran a correction. So your theory is not as crazy as it otherwise might sound.

Now, let's suppose that these people quoted in the story are in fact those Romney staffers you've identified. The level of pay they're receiving, in an organization as big as Romney's, indicates that they are pretty low-level. And as numerous as Romney's staff is, I don't think this should reflect poorly on the campaign as a whole - although it probably will to some small extent if it turns out to be true.

Here's what we can learn from this (if true):

1. The media is really lazy
2. In the age of blogs, political tricks that were previously pretty ordinary are just not going to work anymore
3. The Romney organization would do well to rein in some of the own-goals created by the over-enthusiasm of some of their supporters
4. (Most importantly) This story doesn't really tell us anything about what kind of President Mitt Romney would be, although it is an interesting distraction.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

You sound convinced that the Romney campaign not only received the polling phone calls, but initiated them as well.

Why didn't they just ask their paid staffers over coffee and donuts? Save themselves the huge cell phone bill.

It's called "assuming for the sake of argument." It's what you do when you're faced with a choice between spending two hours arguing the underlying premises, or two minutes pointing out that even if the premises are true, they fail to prove the desired point. See the last sentence of my comment.

It just so happens that I've seen this exact behavior before so it's at least relatively plausible to me. However, as I said, I think it's ultimately irrelevant to the greater issue.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

I agree 100% with Leon's #s 1-4 -- completely absent the phone call situation.

"2. In the age of blogs, political tricks that were previously pretty ordinary are just not going to work anymore"

1. How many people read blogs vs how many people read the KC star.

2. Not only are the media very lazy, they really resent people that point it out.

3. Of those that are politically active enough to care about reading Blogs, how many are more concerned about the facts of the matter over how it effects their candidate ?
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

That being that the KC Star printed a retraction.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

I don't read fishwrap. The end result for me was that when you clicked on the online version of the story, the first thing you saw was the retraction.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

for being the exception.

I hear Mary Mapes just wrote a book standing by the authenticity of her documents.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Re: the statement that the questions "then asked positive questions about McCain and delved into disparaging things about Romney."

Assuming that the description of the questions is accurate, and not just the reaction of a loyal employees such as Marshan Roth or Rose Kramer,
- why would it progress from positive questions for McCain and negative questions for Romney?
- How many other people did this poll reach?
- Is it coincidence that the poll sounds remarkably similar to what happened to McCain, the apparent "benefactor" of the poll? (I only ask this in light of McCain's attacks on Romney?)
-Is it coincidental that not just one, but two employees of the Romney campaign were polled? What are the odds of that? And the employees were low level folks, at that, not important enough in the campaign to actually attract the attention of the MSM.

That seems like a lucky break for someone. Really, really lucky. And no one knows who was doing the polling. Even luckier.

Luv ya! But read the Gage memo again. The key line is:

"TargetPoint Consulting has absolutely nothing to do with the calls in question."

there is no wiggle room there.

My guess is that the SL Trib contacted the campaign to find leads and people who received the calls and the campaign gave them some names.

They should have disclosed their status with the campaign.

Do you know for a fact whether they are affiliated with the campaign?

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

I don't know that they are connected at all...

But if the campaign records show this... my guess is they are.

So, in short, if they are campaign people... the trib folks needed some quotes, calls had been coming into Romney HQ from people who got the calls, and Roth and Kramer knew how to contact the campaign and were on the list of people for the press to talk to regarding this.

But I don't know anymore than you do.

I don't know that I like that theory, because that basically involves the Trib calling Iowa campaign HQ and asking for names of people who have received calls, and Campaign HQ giving them the names of paid staffers without disclosing (?) that they were paid staffers/consultants (or, alternately, they disclosed it and the Trib just didn't cover it). That's a pretty significant error, if that's how it happened, and I don't see the IA Romney organization making it. Instead, I tend to think that these two *initiated* calls to media outlets (who knows which one first), and then became points of contact for the story for the rest of the incestuous media.

Either way, I don't think it speaks to the desirability vel non of Romney as President at all.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

1) The first evidence of these anti-Mormon call was to Jonathan Martin from a professor (who I do not believe is Mormon). We can ask him.

2) Just reading the transcript (communicated by those who got the calls) is enough to say "Whoa! that's bad!"

3) The quote "mormons believe the Book of Mormon to be above the Bible" is false and definatly anti-Mormon

The "Reply to This" button is infinitely helpful in that regard.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

There is disagreement over whether the poll was a push-poll, designed to slime Romney and boost McCain or a traditional poll of about 400 to 700 voters.

You seem to be contradicting what Dean Barnett at the Weekly Standard (Barnett is, I believe, affiliated with the Romney campaign) said. He says it was a traditional poll. But he says there's no way that it was from his (Romney's) campaign.

What say you?

Here's what probably happened......

The poll was not a "push-poll." It was a legitimate poll to garner information about Iowans who are very likely to go the either the Iowa caucues or the New Hampshire primary.

The pollsters asked questions like "Would you be willing to consider voting for a Mormon for President?" And "Would a former Prisoner of War be more likely to get your vote?"

But the pollsters were not hired by any of the presidential campaigns. Nor were they hired or sponsored by friends of the presidential campaigns.


They were hired by a national polling firm hired by a national news outlet.

But because of the "filter" the pollsters used to contact voters who were highly likely to participate in the voting, they ended up getting two Romney staffers in their sample. The Romney staffers complain to the media. The media doesn't know anything about these polls, so they report on it, assuming that it is a "dirty tricks" tactic coming from one of the campaigns.

But it's not. It's just the mainstream media trying to figure out how much Romney will be hurt by his religious beliefs and how much McCain will be helped by being a former POW.

Nobody's asking the media to deny anything, are they?

The theory that it was just Mormon crazies offended by a simple survey is crazy itself. Look at the first evidence of the calls.

* Politico's Jonathan Martin's source: "His name is Marcel Kielkucki and he teaches American government and American history to high school kids at a community college in Cedar Rapids." No indication at all that he is Mormon

* AP story from Friday:
Anne Baker, an independent voter from Hollis, N.H.
Sabrina Matteson, a Republican from Epsom, N.H.
state representative Ralph Watts

They were all offended or disturbed by the calls

If you don't hit "Reply to This" at the bottom of the comment you're replying to, it doesn't thread and nobody knows who you're talking to. Hence, we can't make sense out of your comment.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

I work with dozens of Mormons and many of them are not supporting Romney.


==== 13 ====

If the poll offended this diverse group of people, it must have been a push poll. But then we hear that the poll when on and on for about 20 minutes, much more like a traditional, information gathering poll. Any reason why we can't even seem to nail down the real purpose of the poll?

Have you read the interview with Dean Barnett of the Weekly Standard and also of the Romney campaign? Interesting interview. He seems to think is was a regular, above board, button-down poll of a good cross-section of voters.

How do we know that some of these voters who got polled didn't just flip out and decide to whine to the media? Maybe the poll wasn't as bad in reality as it was in the retelling?

I don't know. I say that we reconsider Vladmir Putin as the prime suspect behind this.

It wasn't Putin - none of the questions were 'Would you vote for a man who kisses boys' bare tummies in public.'

I don't think it's that crazy of a theory.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if this wasn't malicious.

Two further points:

One, I think a lot of people don't understand the difference between legitimate polling and push polling. Here's a definition of a push poll. It's important to note they wouldn't last 20 minutes.

Two, these "connections" I think are a bit overblown. National Republican politics are sort of incestuous with the firms involved. Everyone has worked with everyone else at some point. That doesn't prove anything. It reminds me of the web that showed Rove was "behind" the Swift Boat ads by the NYT in 2004.

“I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally.” - Jimmy "MVP" Rollins, 1/23/07

than the Romney campaign, or a friend of it, trying to be sneaky, or a McCain campaign, or a friend of it, doing something like that, IMO.

I can see it being the campaign or supporters of one of the other candidates, but it makes absolutely NO sense for anyone associated (even unoficially or unknown to the campaigns) with McCain OR Romney (who is only slightly less likely to be targeted with suspicion than McCain, as we've seen all too clearly).

but the scenario you outline in this post makes as much sense as a Fred/Rudy/Mike operative or supporter doing it.

I just spoke to Rose Kramer's husband. She wasn't there at the moment. He confirmed that she did get one of the anti-Mormon calls and that she is employed by the campaign.

How their campaign workers deal with polls.
"Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it."
-Thomas Paine: The American Crisis, No. 4, 1777

Thanks for updating us on that.

I admit Erick's theory seems to be a bit off the wall, but that doesn't mean it's untrue. If this really is an own goal, it is going to go down as one of the all-time epic own goals in the history of own goals.

We're talking Chris Brass level here.

Andres Escobar level

No one ought to be killed over this.

“I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally.” - Jimmy "MVP" Rollins, 1/23/07

But still broken nose bad. :)

It has been my experience that many people don't really know the difference between a push poll and a legit poll testing themes and issues.

It is completely stupid and a waste of time to push poll at this point. Push polling is intended to suppress turn out and is done in the last days of a campaign, not in the last two months. In addition, the population that is reached is literally as many as you can get on the phone - thousands.

Legit polls that test themes as issues take a long time to conduct from the perspective of the respondent - 15 to 20 minutes. The messages tested - especially negative ones - are tested a more than one level of severity of rhetoric. These can often be mistaken for push polls. However, the sample is carefully selected to be as representative as possible of the voting population.

Erick, I think your theory makes the most sense.

(I woke the poor woman up!)

She confirmed:

* She received the call on Tuesday
* She spoke to the East Iowa Field Director
* The Romney camp asked her if she was willing to talk to the press
* The press called her

She's like 70 years old.

I would gather that Roth went through a similar process.

That took me all of 3 minutes to confirm with her.

If everyone would take off your tinfoil hats we might actually get somewhere.


Whether she was on the campaign payroll?

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

... her husband. He indicated she was.

I explained the situation to her and she didn't understand. She is no politico. Just a sweet old lady who was glad to vent about an ugly call she got that blasted her candidate of choice.

So what you're telling me is, the media called the campaign, were directed somehow to the Iowa field office, and the Iowa field office directed the press to... paid staffers. Apparently without disclosing that the individuals in question were paid staffers.

Do you really not see a problem with this?

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

On the recent comment column, and I thought it would be you expressing surprise that he used Reply to This.

“I think we are the team to beat in the NL East -- finally.” - Jimmy "MVP" Rollins, 1/23/07

But it kind of got swallowed up in the amazement over what the comment said.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

(woke her up too)

Confirmed the same details that I asked Rose. (got called Tuesday, told Romney folks about it, Romney folks called back to have her talk to the press, etc...)

I asked her specifically about not disclosing that she was a paid staffer (note she is 74).

She asked: "What? Why? What do you mean?"

She added: "I don't remember anyone asking me anything".

OK. Yes, they should have disclosed it. But come on folks! These are septuagenarian. Cut them some slack.

I need to confirm ages with them tomorrow (I'm using an Ancestry.com source)...

But I wager that are both 65+ years old.

I care that the freaking Iowa field office, when fielding inquiries from the press about people receiving these calls, directed the press to paid staffers!

Are you seriously not getting what the problem is?

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

... its not my place to defend a mistake the Iowa campaign might have made. It is my place to debunk silly artificial made-up theories that could easily have been verified and debunked on their own.


And take away the fun of speculating about what "might" have happened? That's like telling a movie fan the ending of an epic movie before he has even had a chance to sit down with his popcorn and raisinettes.

The theory is that these people got calls that constituted real polling (the length of the calls confirms this) and they reacted in an over-sensitive manner. The only portion that you've "debunked" is the part about the Western Wats connection with Gage. Fine. Let us suppose that Western Wats was engaged by Hillary to do some polling, or George Soros, or whoever. That doesn't disprove what Erick is saying at all. In fact, the fact that these are paid staffers kind of reinforces it. Jeez.

This is what's upsetting: as I've said, this story is completely irrelevant to the larger issue of the campaign, but it is going to become a story. Could they not have found a non-paid person to talk to the media???

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

First, I agree that its probably (technically) a survey call or "message test". I would say the effect is probably the same as a push poll though (based on my understanding of the content of the poll). The distinction is negligible in my mind.

Erick's thesis was that it was simply Romney folks who were complaining and that it was really nothing beyond that.

I've already shown (above) that Martin's source was not a Romney-ite and that the 4+ sources that the AP found were probably not Romney folks either.

Erick's theory is toast.

The implied notion at the beginning of the post that Romney paid staffers to make up their reaction to a poll is toast.

I'll let the campaign speak for themselves on what is right to do when a reporter comes knocking.

Again, notice, your first inclination is to accuse Romney of deception.

What if the Iowa office didn't even know these ladies and simply put them on a list of people who complained? Is that plausible? No one would then think to blame The IA HQ for not telling the ladies about their disclosure prerogatives if no one put the two together.

I didn't accuse Romney of *anything*, I accused the IA field office of making a mistake - which, if they did not know that both of the people they referred media people to were on their payroll, that's called a *mistake*. I have said repeatedly in this thread that this story is a distraction and that it does not reflect on Romney's ability to be President at all.

I have no idea about the AP folks at all.

The Red Sox Republican: Burkeanism, Baseball, and Sundries.

McCain's Mom seems to not like Mormons maybe she did it.

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