Roly-Poly Polling

My question, which I've been asking people the past several days, is: Why did the Charlie Baker camp push out "evidence" that their candidate is leading?

Let's first put this out there: pretty much nobody seriously thinks that anybody is ahead by a comfortable margin in the Massachusetts governor's race.

Second: Every independent poll since Labor Day -- check that, since June -- has shown Deval Patrick leading with margins ranging from 1 percentage point (Globe/UNH) to 7, as in the Suffolk University poll that came out earlier this week.

Since most people expect undecideds -- and deserting Cahill supporters -- to break favorably for Baker, that pretty much means that if the election was held today we should expect to sleep late tomorrow morning, because it'll be a late night of watching close returns.

It also means that both sides should really want their people highly motivated, because it could really be a dogfight on election day. Frankly, there's been some concern on the Patrick side that the too-good-to-be-true streak of leading poll results could be creating a false sense of security -- a sense the campaign folks themselves do not seem to share.

That helps explain why they haven't tried to play up polls showing Patrick ahead, and why they didn't try to counter the Globe poll a couple of weeks back that showed the race virtually tied.

And, why the Patrick folks seemed perfectly happy that the Baker folks shattered that sense of security by claiming to have evidence that their guy is winning.

As (my Twitter arch-nemesis) Garrett Quinn blogs today, the Baker camp went ballistic over the latest Suffolk poll. They publicly bad-mouthed Suffolk as a bunch of incompetent hacks, while pushing out supposed evidence that in fact Baker is knocking Deval around like a whack-a-mole.

Now look; if you really do believe that you're ahead of the incumbent by 7 points with less than three weeks to go, you don't need to run around telling people that. If that really is the case, you just want to keep your head down and keep doing what you're doing, and you can explain to everybody what your polling said later, when you're nice and toasted during the inauguration party.

But, whether or not they believe they're comfortably ahead, the question is, why did the Baker campaign decide, strategically, that they needed to push out a polling counter-narrative? What did they have to gain from it?

Or, were they not thinking strategically, and they were just acting out of annoyance and knee-jerk defensiveness -- just some blind notion that you have to counter bad polls? Because that would just be stupid.

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