New CD-4 Poll is Swell…If You Don’t Care About Accuracy

Lost in the hubbub about the Dan Maes for Governor saga was a story about the first public poll in CD-4, which Republicans have breathlessly used to claim that GOP candidate Cory Gardner is going to easily defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Betsy Markey.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported on the poll this morning, blindly restating the polling memo message that Gardner is outpolling Markey 50-39. Sounds bad for Markey, right?

The problem with the poll, done for the newly-formed Republican “think tank” American Action Forum, is that the results are based on a two-person race in CD-4. Of course, there are four candidates in CD-4, including American Constitution Party candidate Doug Aden and Independent candidate Ken “Wasko” Waszkiewicz.

From what we understand, every other internal poll, done either by campaigns or outside groups, has polled on a four-way race, and the results are dramatically different because Aden and “Wasko” combine for as much as 12% of the vote. This isn’t at all surprising, given that Reform Party candidate Eric Eidsness grabbed 11% of the vote in CD-4 in 2006, in a three-way race with Rep. Marilyn Musgrave and Democrat Angie Paccione. Common sense says that Aden and Wasko take the majority of their votes away from Gardner, because they are more closely aligned ideologically to a Republican candidate than a Democrat — and because Markey’s high name ID means that most people have probably made up their minds about her already.

Saying that Gardner is well ahead of Markey in a two-way race is as pointless as those Gubernatorial polls showing that Dan Maes does better against Democrat John Hickenlooper if ACP candidate Tom Tancredo is not in the race. Sure he does. He probably also kicks ass in a poll in which neither Hickenlooper or Tancredo are mentioned. So what? That’s not the makeup of the actual ballot that people will use in six weeks, so none of these hypothetical matchups mean squat. American Action Forum might as well show us how Gardner does in a head-to-head matchup with Aden — that would be equally irrelevant.

If you still don’t believe that this poll is nonsense, consider this: If the NRCC or the Gardner campaign had poll results showing he was ahead of Markey by double digits in a four-way race, they would have fallen all over themselves trying to publicize it. But they don’t have those results. The fact that there has been no poll on this race released by anybody tells us that it is basically a toss-up, because neither Gardner nor Markey have anything to gain from releasing polling numbers to the public.

38 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. HikingTheAppalachianTrail says:

    Yes, Pols, it does sound bad for Markey.

    We get that you hate Gardner.  It’s hard to miss. But the fact is he’s beating Markey.

    So, he may not be up by 11 points.  What would be accurate in your mind? 9? 8? 5?

    Sorry guys, this race is not a toss-up.

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      This poll only asked questions about a TWO PERSON RACE. But CD-4 is a FOUR PERSON RACE. In a two person race, Gardner apparently does really well. But CD-4 is not a two person race, so this is irrelevant.

      • HikingTheAppalachianTrail says:

        Are you implying that presidential polls that only poll the 2 major candidates are irrelevant too?

        • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

          Nothing compares to a Presidential race. It is the only race we have where a majority of voters know at least something about both major candidates.

          Again, we’ll repeat: In 2006, the Reform Party candidate got 11% of the vote in CD-4, and he didn’t have Tancredo at the top of his ticket. You can’t just write off the effect of two third party candidates in 2010 and not even bother asking about them.

      • H-man says:

        and did not account for the higher percentage of Republicans than Dems who will be voting in November because of differences in enthusiasm? Seems to me that accounts for largely an offset.  Gardner is up probably 8-10 points.  An incumbernt polling with less than 50% on labor day is almost always toast.

      • Ignatius O'Reilly says:

        On your “Big Line,” you rate every race as if there were no vast Republican wave cresting across the nation. My bet is that you are wrong. Especially on down ticket races, Republicans will swamp Dems. You are give much too much strength to Markey, Garnett, Kennedy, Buescher, and probably to Bennet too. This ain’t a regular year. This is a realignment year.

      • onebigrepublican says:

        This type of polling could be very useful and persuasive in getting someone to drop out of the race.  I doubt that they will, but it could be useful.  

        It could also be useful to utilize a poll like this to convince the DCCC to (perhaps) not spend as much money in this Dist. as they may have planned.  

        There are a million scenarios in which this poll is relevant.  I predict Gardner wins by around 3%-4% even if it is a four person race in the end.

        So give us the specifics of a poll that you would believe in?  Get detailed, and I will personally visit with some groups that are about to go out into the field for this race, and we will get you a poll (any poll you like) that will still show Gardner beating Markey!

        It always seems funny that when you don’t like the results of a poll you trash the validity.  Every poll I have ever come across has potential for error.  There are no perfect polls when dealing with humans.

  2. bjwilson83 says:

    Votes for third party candidates always fall off towards election day unless you have a candidate with major name recognition. The other two won’t get squat as the race heats up between Gardner and Markey.

    • greality says:

      What part of “Eric Eidsness grabbed 11% of the vote in CD-4 in 2006″ do you not understand? And you can bet Wasko and Aden will have plenty of name recognition because getting them in the public eye is Markey’s best shot at winning.

  3. abraham says:

    OK – trying to spin CD 4 in terms of being a 4 person race is just silly – amusing, but silly.

    It is now, and has been, a 2 person race.

    The problem for Markey is that in her desire to be accepted by Pelosi she threw her district under the bus.  Now a good politician can usually get away with that, but Markey is not a very good politician.  Her flip flop vote on health care was an inartful gambit and she got caught.

    She is in a pickle and it is of her own making and she can’t run against Marilyn Musgrave in absentia.  Now she is running against herself.

    And, by the way, her TV ad is just pathetic.

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      But there are four candidates on the ballot. You can’t do an accurate poll that doesn’t take into account the other two candidates.  

      • Laughing Boy says:

        Why don’t you just eat your crow, and change the big line to something that exists here on earth.

        She voted against Obamacare until Nancy told her she couldn’t.  That’s going to play out great in CD-4.

        • Froward69 says:

          For my Aunts entire bridge club. 2/3 of them now have Health care because of it. as they all had preexisting conditions.

          so that’s 10 Markey votes that were musgrave last time around. all in cd4.

          don’t be counting those chickens LB. you really haven’t got those eggs fully counted.  

          • Laughing Boy says:

            That’s like your 45th story about how something from this administration has impacted you or your family in a positive way financially.

            If true, (and I take you at your word) then you are one of a very, very small minority of Americans (and voters) for whom this is the case.  

            • sxp151 says:

              doesn’t mean they don’t exist, or that they’re a tiny minority.

              I know you’re not sheltered, so I assume you just don’t talk to people much about this stuff. But people who have really difficult situations, who work too much to waste their day posting here, are getting help from the government.  

              • Laughing Boy says:

                Re-read my post.

                I know a large number of people who are struggling but very few who have benefitted from this administration’s insane economic policies, other than apparently, everyone in Froward’s inner circle.

                I have three to four jobs, depending on the time of year, and I often work 7 days per week.

                But you already knew that, right?

                I’m going to have to take time off, probably, in order to collect on our bet.

                :)

        • Clancy_Pants says:

          Get all your news from Newscorp? Do you think for yourself or do you just repeat talking points? Nancy told her she couldn’t? Really?  

          • H-man says:

            adding millions of people to those receiving “free” services was really going to save money.  And she was, after all, really concerned about the taxpayer’s money.

          • Laughing Boy says:

            You are accusing someone of using talking points by….

            using talking points?

            Awesome.

            It’s very obvious that the soon-to-be-former Speaker didn’t need her vote the first time and did the second time.  It’s done all the time, but unfortunately for Markey, it’s going to cost her her job.

            • ajb says:

              Here’s a long-term bet:

              If Republicans retake the House, they don’t vote to repeal HCR.

              We give them until the 2012 election to get it done.

              • Laughing Boy says:

                They won’t be able to fully repeal it until Obama’s out on his ass in 2013.

                They can functionally gut it, though, and stall any other BS he might come up with when we take back the House.

                Maybe “Hey, I won” wasn’t the best idea after all?

      • H-man says:

        50-39 leaves 11% unaccounted for.

  4. HikingTheAppalachianTrail says:

    Every Colorado congressional district has a 3rd party candidate running.

    And, I have yet to see a poll for the US Senate race that includes the Green Party or Libertarian Party candidates.  Are those legit?

    To be fair, you should add all 3rd party candidates to your Big Line, not just Tancredo and the two running in the 4th.

    You know, if you want to be accurate :)

    • Colorado PolsColorado Pols says:

      Not every race has a history of third-party candidates making a difference in the race. You don’t find it at all strange that neither Gardner nor the NRCC have released a poll showing that he is winning big? They don’t have it, because Aden and “Wasko” pull up to 12% of the vote if you include them.

      This third party effect doesn’t happen in the Senate race, but it does in the Gubernatorial race with Tancredo.  

  5. ace41 says:

    …is operating under the same delusions as the Republicans posting here.

    SURE…third party candidates don’t matter at all!  Just ask Angie Paccione and Al Gore how much they don’t matter!

    From what I know of the pretty astute people who work for Markey, they are laughing all the way to Election Day bc Mr. Gardner has walked around measuring the drapes in his new office…without bothering to try and figure out of the mechanics of a four way race.

    Pols is right, the only telling thing is that this is the first poll being released in a highly competitive race.

    And seriously, whether you think it matters or not, it’s just a waste of money to pay for a poll that doesn’t poll half the candidates.

    • H-man says:

      They will run through the finish line, so to speak, because they fear the alternative.  They have seen it and they want better for their children

      • ace41 says:

        It’s another thing to tell everyone that you a going to win walking away.  That’s just bad strategy and bad for a campaign team.

        The best advice I ever received on politics was to treat every election like you were 20 points behind.  My point is that word on the street is that Gardner and his people have been telling people they are a shoe in…while Markey’s people are working like the underdogs.

        It’s dangerous for a front runner to set expectations too high…I think Cory’s people have done just that.  One DC lobbyist told me he walked into a fundraiser out there and told the room he would win by 15 points and was already discussing legislation he was going to introduce.  Smart campaigns take advantage of that kind of arrogance and I suspect Markey will do just that.

  6. Middle of the Road says:

    in polling because he’s going to draw some votes with Tancredo at the top of the ticket but Wasko Who? Are you serious? Give me a break here, Pols.

    I think this race is closer than 11 points but there is no denying that Markey is not Miss Popularity in our district these days. Get out of Denver for the day and you might see that for yourself. In a good year, this is not a district that typically favors Democrats and this is a very bad year to be one.

  7. BobMoore says:

    Is a blatantly inaccurate description of the story you linked to. The story includes detailed descriptions of possible flaws in the polling methodology, including the two-candidate, four-candidate issue. And whose poll shows Aden and Wasko with 12 percent of the vote? Eidsness did indeed pull 11 percent of the vote after virtually every newspaper in the district endorsed him and he developed strong name ID. In 2004, the Green candidate got 4 percent of the vote. So the suggestion that the 4th has some strong streak of voting for third party candidates isn’t necessarily accurate.

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