Polls v. GOTV
I directed a Detroit News poll that ran that day declaring Gov. Jim Blanchard up by an insurmountable 14 points.
Two days later, John Engler won the tightest governor’s race in Michigan history. Blanchard blamed The News for lulling his supporters into complacency when he needed them to fight hard until the very end. And Engler framed our front page for his new office.
I’m not enough of a spin doctor to suggest our numbers were right and Engler closed the gap with a brilliant two-day charge. It was a bad poll. We over-sampled Detroit voters, who weren’t as enthusiastic about Blanchard as we thought, and we stopped making calls on Thursday night, two days before press time, and so missed a late surge in Engler’s favor.
Among the lessons learned was that in Michigan political campaigns aren’t over until the polls close on Tuesday night.
Among the lessons the public ought to have learned –but never does, though it happens again and again– is that political polling has built in Democratic bias, and when the Washington Post comes out with a closing days poll showing Michael Steele down by 11 points, it is simply agenda journalism seeping into the turnout model.
Finley’s column reminds the GOTV troops that electoral blocking and tackling beats MSM Democrati boosterism every time.