Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The problem with Public Policy Polling's conclusions on Newt's chances

Today, Public Policy Polling (PPP) analyzed some of their GOP Primary poll results and concluded that Newt has a "tough road ahead."

Let me say that I think that PPP's polls are very accurate -- more importantly, the statistics back up their accuracy. And despite being a Democrat firm -- and being the uber-left Daily Kos' polling firm -- I don't think they have a bias; I trust their polling data.

Their analysis starts out accurately, in my opinion: they state that he is generally placing fourth right now in most polls -- "with just the occasional second or third place finish." Their polls and just about everyone else's polling data says that.

However, then they conclude that Newt will not be able to improve because, chiefly, "his name recognition is already at 70 to 80% in most states." Most people do know him, and so on the surface it might appear has though he has peaked.

But what PPP does not point out is that the three ahead of him currently -- Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, and Mike Huckabee -- either ran for President or Vice President in 2008, and so also have high name identification and more people are familiar with their speeches and policies. After all, Romney and Huckabee campaigned for a year each, and Palin was a huge story for the last stretch of that election.

Newt, on the other hand, has not run for office since 1998, and while most people still know of him, have not watched him on Fox News, read his books (even if they are best-sellers), or read his newsletters. Their recollection of him may be colored by his confrontational Speakership.

Plus, we have evidence that once people actually hear Newt's ideas and the way he presents them, they become supporters, even if they had been fully aware of him before. I once again will quote Matthew Continetti, who wrote in 2007:
Gingrich continues to enjoy a gut connection with Republican voters. Back in 2005, consultant Frank Luntz held focus groups in Iowa and New Hampshire on the Republican candidates. In a report published afterward, Luntz wrote, 'We were genuinely surprised by the strongly favorable reaction' to Gingrich's 'speeches and interviews.' According to Luntz, voters ignored, or in some cases forgot, the controversial nature of Gingrich's speakership. 'The words he spoke were like nothing they had heard from anyone else,' Luntz went on. 'While he didn't start either session with any measurable support, he ended both Iowa and New Hampshire sessions with the most new converts.' Out of office, Gingrich has remained largely insulated from the scandals and debacles of the Bush Republicans. In fact, the 2006 midterm election results could be viewed as confirmation of what Gingrich has been saying for some time: that the Republican party and broader conservative movement have lost their way, and the time has come for a rebirth of the reform impulse that in 1994 brought the GOP to congressional majority status for the first time in 40 years.
More recently, Luntz held a focus group in Iowa:
They liked a video of Gingrich effectively blasting the national debt and the radical fixes proposed by Obama’s debt commission, like ending the home mortgage deduction. One panel member says, 'We want to see him dismantle Obama in the debates, and he can do it.' Luntz’s own conclusion is, 'Principles matter more than pragmatism to these voters, and principles with solid debating skills matter most.'

(Thank you to splicd.com)

Once again, those voters in Iowa assuredly knew who Gingrich was before -- and coming in it was doubtful he had the most support -- but after listening to Newt, Romney, Palin, Huckabee, and every other possible Republican running, he won. (What's remarkable is that Romney was one of the first "eliminated" in the focus group."

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