Playing fast and loose with internal polls

Martin Babinec

Politicians and candidates on the campaign trail love to highlight polls, especially selected parts of internal polls that show them in a positive light. The polispeak associated with any nugget of positive news is enough to make even most used car salesmen swoon (to be fair, used car salesmen have a tied national trust rating with members of Congress and higher than lobbyists). Because of this slanted view of non-public polling data, constant review is needed. On September 7, 2016 we published one such review of some of the common criteria that causes poll results to differ – using the New York 22nd congressional race as an example. Today, September 9, 2016, one of the NY-22nd candidates released their own internal poll, suggesting further review for accountability.
Martin Babinec
Martin Babinec is the Reform Party candidate in the NY-22 race. He came to this position after initially attempting to gain a special exemption to be considered for the Herkimer Republican Party nomination – Herkimer County rejected him (potentially in part due to his 14 donations to Democrats and Hillary Clinton since 2004). Babinec then sought the Independence Party line (which is not the same in New York State as Independent voters, which Babinec was, who have no political party affiliation) – but he was kicked out of the race by the NY State Board of Elections when it was determined that the Babinec campaign violated a basic rule of having registered voters gather petitions. Which led to Babinec seeking the Reform Party nomination.

As of April 1, 2016, there were 9 registered voters representing that Party in the 8 Counties of the NY-22 (or 0.002% of voters in the District). Throughout this process, which took from March until June, Babinec spent roughly $787,000 primarily on ads on social media and television, and gaining access to the voting ballot.

The selected information from the internal poll released on September 9, 2016, claims that Babinec is at 20%. This is in line, though lower, with polling from the DCCC representing Democrat Kim Myers and NRCC for Republican Claudia Tenney. But as was highlighted in our prior article, there is more to polling than just the headlines a candidate might tout.

Setting aside the claim of “unprecedented” importance by a 3rd Party candidate – a statement that was not clarified on its criteria or timeframe – the assertions made for a win in November is equally unqualified and hopeful media spin. Based solely on all polls to date, Babinec appears to lose the race with a third place finish. How that translates to success is baffling, without taking into account polispeak.

The Babinec Campaign then claims that Mr. Babinec is surging. This is based on 2 polls that are not available to the public and are not referenced for verification. No mention of exact dates, number of people polled, or even the criteria of the unseen polls was made. This invalidates such a reference as it is not credible until that information is provided.

If we take the unknown data at face value as presented, the indication is still hardly positive. The Babinec campaign has spent, as FEC records show in July and have credibly increased since, $787,000 over 5 months with very limited results of 21% total. While this may reflect growth from near 0% in February 2016, it does not show a definitive trend. The argument can be made that similar spending on advertising and timeframe by either or both of the major Party candidates would have shown similar growth results.

In the same timeframe, uncontested Democrat Kim Myers spent a total of $115,000 to gain 27% (the 3 known polls averaged). Claudia Tenney, who won a 3-way Republican primary battle where she was outspent by 8x, spent $254,000 for the leading 35% (again, all known polls averaged). Babinec’s return on every dollar spent in the campaign is the worst of all the candidates by far. When looked at on a dollar-cost basis, Babinec has spent $37,500/percentage point. Myers spent $4,250. Tenney spent $7,257. How this is seen as a positive is unclear.

As for the claim that 25% of the NY-22 is currently undecided, it does most accurately reflect the fact that 8.5% of the District is of Party affiliation other than Democrat or Republican, and 21% have no Party affiliation. As we said in the abovementioned prior article

“For the entire NY-22, about 8.5% of the District belong to Parties other than Democrat or Republican, and 21% (106,845 people) have no Party affiliation at all. Thus, it would appear, that the DCCC poll ignored in large part any person not affiliated with a political Party, and/or affiliated with any Party beyond the two majors. The NRCC poll, appears to more accurately reflect the composition of the NY-22, as of April 2016.”

Another major point of contention in the poll presented by the Babinec campaign is the breakdown. The 502 people contacted for the poll, done on August 25-26, 2016, is in line with the dates and numbers of the Myers and Tenney polls. But unlike the Likely Voters of the Myers poll, and the general voters of the Tenney poll, Babinec instead chose an odd breakdown. 47% of those polled were Republicans, 29% were Democrats, 12% Independent and 6% Conservative.

The figures make no real sense. Republicans are overweighted by 8%, Democrats underrepresented by 2%, Independents (again as opposed to the Independence Party which is not the same) underweighted by 9%, and Conservatives overweighted by 4%. The District that these numbers reflect have no connection to the NY-22. But it does explain why the Babinec poll shows a Trump win by 18 points – one of the widest margins in the nation. Surprisingly, the poll claims a 4.5% accuracy based on these figures.

The Babinec poll cites unknown sources, interprets data in a manner that is blatantly biased, and resolves these items into a classic slippery slope logic fallacy to conclude success. Considering the multiple discrepancies of the Babinec poll from the polls of Myers and Tenney, it seems wise to again state,

“Thus, no voter nor pundit should put their faith in any single or group of polls. As much as candidates and their surrogates may use a particular poll as a part of their campaigning, it is ultimately little more than data at best, and marketing at worst.”

** M V Consulting, Inc. advocates for no candidate in any election. We provide information and questions for voters to consider and learn about candidates to determine for themselves whom to vote for.

In addition, M V Consulting, Inc. has invited Martin Babinec to have an interview since February 2016, including an in person request at the 2016 Spiedie Fest. To date, the babinec Campaign has declined to respond to our open request.

Kim Myers was also invited since March to be interviewed. There has been no further update since the initial response of accepting at some undisclosed future date.**

About the Author

Michael Vass
Born in 1968, a political commentator for over a decade. Has traveled the U.S. and lived in Moscow and Tsblisi, A former stockbroker and 2014 Congressional candidate. Passionate about politics with emphasis on 1st and 2nd Amendments.

2 Comments on "Playing fast and loose with internal polls"

  1. Based solely on all polls to date, Babinec appears to lose the race with a third place finish. How that translates to success is baffling, without taking into account polispeak.

  2. You did a great job with this article! Thank you!

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