Kelly Armstrong’s campaign released poll results to selected friendly outlets today. The poll, paid for by his campaign and conducted by Axis Research, shows he has passed 50% and leads his opponent Mac Schneider. The results may have been released today, but I’ve heard about this poll as it was being conducted. Participants felt compelled to contact me following the survey. According to their accounts, to say the poll was misleading at times and slanted in Armstrong’s favor would be an understatement.
Polling is a tricky thing. The breakdown of participant demographics, method of conducting the poll, how questions are worded, and what prefaced the questions can sway the outcome. In some instances, all or some of this is chosen strategically to get the outcome the person paying for the poll wants. In this case, Armstrong’s campaign paid for the poll.
What was made abundantly clear to me by participants was the inclusion of negative messaging towards Schneider in this same poll. One participant described it as “the most blatant push poll” they had ever taken. According to those who took the poll, the usual suspects of Clinton and Pelosi were thrown in, descriptions of “conservative” and “liberal”, hot-button social issues, and “strong border” were included. Testing negatives on your opponent isn’t uncommon but it leads to suspicion of the selected outcome that was strategically made public.
The question about this poll is whether they tested the head-to-head of Armstrong and Schneider before or after they used the negative messages on Schneider. If the result Armstrong released was the head-to-head after the strategically used talking points and negative messaging then the outcome is very suspect. If that is the case then the race is closer than this poll indicates. One way to clear it up and build trust in the result, Armstrong’s campaign could release the whole poll including what and how the questions were asked.