"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Why Bob Menendez Is Polling Poorly

Fred Snowflack is always good for a laugh. Today in the Daily Record he writes:

Most people are not political junkies. Even people who regularly vote may not pay all that much attention to politics.

In off-hand conversations recently with two friends of mine, the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican challenger Thomas H. Kean Jr. came up. In wading into discussing the race, one thing immediately became clear. Both my friends thought the Republican candidate was the former governor of New Jersey. That would be Thomas H. Kean Sr.
While it’s not surprising Snowflack has such poorly informed friends, it is a very convenient story that just happens to fit one of the Democrats' major explanations for Bob Menendez poor showing in the polls.

"I do feel that a lot of people think it is the governor running," says Lew Candura, the chairman of the Morris County Democratic Committee. Candura said that feeling was reinforced when he spent time with some of his neighbors over Labor Day weekend.
There you have it, if a County Democratic Committee chairman and his neighbors feel a certain way - it must be true. Or perhaps Candura’s neighbors are as clueless as Snowflack’s friends. In either case it’s doubtful these folks are likely Kean voters.

Recent polls show the race a statistical dead heat. That defies conventional wisdom. New Jersey is a solid "blue state."Democratic presidential candidates have won New Jersey four times in a row and Republicans have not won a U.S. Senate race in the state in more than 30 years. Add in President Bush's dismal poll ratings and Menendez should be comfortably ahead.
Snowflack believes Menendez should be ahead in the senate race just because he’s a Democrat. But, Menendez is not a generic Democrat and as anyone slightly familiar with the candidate knows, he comes with ethical baggage and a decidedly far left record. Funny, Snowflack never mentions Menedez postions or his voting record as a possible reason for his candidate’s limp support in Blue Jersey.

A poll by the Eagleton Institute of Politics earlier this year gave some credence to that argument. It noted that the race was a virtual dead heat, but also that when voters definitely knew the candidate was Kean Jr., Menendez had a lead of nine percentage points, 42 to 33.
We debunked that conclusion five months ago when the Eagleton poll first came out. As we pointed out back then, 74 percent of those polled were unable to correctly answer the so-called knowledge questions about either candidate, supposedly asked to filter out people that confused Kean with his father. What the Eagleton poll showed were respondents’ preferences based on political party as of March 2006, with Menendez leading Kean 40% to 35%.

It’s ridiculous to claim that five months further into the campaign more people are confusing Kean with his father now than back in the spring. That’s the illogical nonsense Snowflack wants to you believe for Kean showing a 4 to 5 point edge over Menendez in recent polls.

But, just in case you don’t buy into the confused voter theory, Snowflack does offer another reason for Menendez’ failure to poll well:

And don't overlook the fact he's Cuban. Bigotry is not dead, and Menendez may lose some votes because of his ethnic background. That's sad, but true.
With Republican obviously backing Kean, Snowflack is referring to lost Menendez votes owing to bigotry within the Democrat Party and those unaffiliated voters who regularly support Democrats. Could be, but that doesn’t explain the closeness of the race, unless he believes a fairly good chunk of these voters are bigots and becoming more bigoted as the campaign goes on.

Snowflack does offer one more guess and here he’s starting to get warm:
Menendez comes from Hudson County, which has a well-deserved reputation for political sleaziness.
In other words, Hudson County is rife with political corruption where Menendez is known as “the Boss”. There’s one more logical reason for the incumbent Senator Menendez to be polling so poorly at this stage – his extreme left positions on the major issues. Snowflack just can’t bring himself to consider such a possibility and so it’s back to the voter confusion theory.

Now that September is here, both candidates will become more visible on television and in various advertisements. It should become pretty clear that the candidate is the son, not the father," Wooley said
It’ll be interesting to see how Menendez tries to conceal and disguise his record in the 24-by-7 ads his money advantage will buy. Never fear though, Kean has a secret weapon to counteract the Democrats’ financial advantage - Tom Kean Sr. is going to do all of his son’s ads. Okay, we’re just kidding, but just imagine the heads exploding at the mere thought.


At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Gavin said...

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At 5:23 PM, Anonymous Asher said...

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