Polling Hijinx in the 49th Ward

A poll conducted in mid-March showed Chicago's 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore with 47% versus 42% for challenger Don Gordon. That was good enough for the Moore people to release the poll for public consumption. The poll was conducted for "organized labor" by one Mark Penn, who is Hillary Clinton’s chief strategist and pollster. In other words, the poll was commissioned by people sympathetic to Joe Moore. There is a "but" to this story... On March 28, the poll results were carried by The Capitol Fax Blog. Rogers Park Bench (RPB) picked it up the same day, and we saw it as bad news for Moore because the percentage for Gordon was better than most had expected they would be. Reliable sources told RPB last week that there was a subsequent poll by the same "organized labor" interests. Here is the "but." That poll has not been released, and it probably will not be. The reason: RPB's sources say that the followup poll showed Gordon ahead of Moore

Disturbing Pattern?

I am not accusing Mr. Penn of doing anything wrong in relation to the 49th Ward. But it must be said that his polling leaves questions. For example, this from the Ezra Klein web site on January 20, entitled "Mark Penn: Now Faster And Looser" (added emphasis is mine): "Penn trumpets Hillary's high favorability ratings while ignoring her equally high unfavorables from the same polls. He cites a CBS News poll with Hillary's favorables at 43%, which he notes as higher than any other Democratic contender. Of course, the same poll puts her unfavorables at 38%. John Edwards, by comparison, has a favorability number of 34% and an unfavorability of 21%. You get the same with the WaPo poll of Democrats Penn cites -- it shows Hillary with a higher unfavorability number (18) than Obama (5!) or Edwards (11) as well. "It's one thing to cherry-pick your favorite polls, or to pass off name-recognition advantages as indicative of some broader strength. But what really gets me about this Penn memo is that his citations of individual polls are themselves misleading. I'm sure that Penn does a better job of poll analysis when he's talking to Hillary than when he's trying to bamboozle the rest of us." Did Penn do this with the recent polling in the 49th Ward of Chicago? Maybe, maybe not. But his clients, the ones who paid for the polling, are unquestionably being dishonest in not releasing the results of the followup poll. That's the one that shows Moore behind Gordon. Related: Polling Early and Often (New York Times, 4/9/07) “There is like a poll every day: I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Mark Penn, a pollster who is the chief strategist for the presidential campaign of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. “I joke about it: ‘We have four polls today!’” Clinton Pollster Takes Helm of Global Firm (Washington Post, 12/8/05) M ark Penn , pollster extraordinaire to President Bill Clinton, is crunching some new numbers. He has been named the new worldwide chief executive of Burson-Marsteller , a major global public relations company. Mark Penn's Bio (at Burson-Marstellar)


  1. Hey... I recently moved to Rogers Park, and have been getting acquainted with the RP blogosphere.

    You are wrong in saying that the Moore campaign is being dishonest here. They have every right to withhold whatever information they would like. The Gordon campaign could do a poll if they want the information out.

    Dishonesty would be releasing false poll data, not withholding poll data.

    I do not really have a side in this race, as I have not registered to vote in RP. But falsly accusing the Moore campaign of being dishonest is not going to help your side.

  2. Dave: First, welcome to Rogers Park. Don't let the bloggers scare you away. It's a nice community overall. Thanks for writing.

    I made no false accusation. They are lying by omission, deliberately withholding information so as not to give a full and accurate picture. The first poll showed Moore ahead. The second poll, allegedly, shows him behind. How honest is it to knowingly leave us with the impression that he is still ahead when their latest poll showed he was behind? Sure, Moore has "every right to withhold whatever information they would like." Your significant has every legal right to not you they are having a torid affair with the pool boy, too. But would you really not consider it dishonest?

    You said, "The Gordon campaign could do a poll if they want the information out." Yes, true. Dave, do you know how much it costs to conduct a professional poll? More that Gordon can afford. Moore's got a much bigger wallet.

    You said, "Dishonesty would be releasing false poll data, not withholding poll data." Dave, it's lying by omission.

  3. Well... I do understand the lack of funds, and in turn the inability to put together a professional poll.

    But I still disagree about the lie of omission. I do not think that the comparison to the affair is a fair one. Moore is running a campaign. Should Moore also put up signs about the good things that Gordon is going to do? Should Gordon release information about the good things that Moore has done?

    And no, the bloggers will not scare me away! I am a blogger myself, so I am more than comfortable with the "lovely" blogging rhetoric. :)

  4. Thanks Dave. Please write again.

  5. Your post directly contradicts Westgard's, which I did not believe anyway but it's nice to read here.

  6. Welcome Dave. Mark Twain, for one, would disagree with your interpretation:

    "Among other common lies, we have the silent lie -- the deception which one conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth. Many obstinate truth-mongers indulge in this dissipation, imagining that if they speak no lie, they lie not at all."

    -- Mark Twain, "On the Decay of the Art of Lying"

  7. Chase: Uhm, the Twain quote you presented completely agrees with me. So, I am not sure what your intended point is.


Thanks for commenting! Keep it classy.