An interesting little sidelight has emerged from the successful Colorado recall election. Public Policy Polling, a firm widely used by media outlets like National Public Radio, polled likely voters in state Sen. Angela Gironâ€™s district and calculated she was going to lose by 12 points. The eventual margin of loss? Twelve points.
Youâ€™d think that constituted a ringing endorsement of PPPâ€™s polling methodology, but the problem is PPP never released the poll.
According to PPPâ€™s Tom Jensen, â€śWe did a poll last weekend in Colorado Senate District 3 and found that voters intended to recall Angela Giron by a 12-point margin, 54/42. In a district that Barack Obama won by almost 20 points, I figured there was no way that could be right and made a rare decision not to release the poll. It turns out we should have had more faith in our numbers because she was indeed recalled by 12 points.â€ť
As we have seen so often before, even smart people who know better can be victims of Pauline Kael Syndrome. You will recall Kael, a longtime cinema critic for The New York Times, was astounded when Richard Nixon won reelection in 1972.
â€śHow could Nixon have won,â€ť a plaintive Kael asked. â€śNo one know voted for him!â€ť
There are those who have accused PPP of suppressing the poll in an effort to help Giron. It could just as logically be argued that suppressing it hurt her chances by encouraging complacency. I suspect PPP personnel had no particular horse in the race; they just couldnâ€™t believe a result that so radically challenged their own ideas.
Jensen went on to say, â€śWe did find on the poll though that voters in the district had a favorable opinion of the NRA by a 53/33 margin. And I think when you see the final results, what that indicates is they just did a good job of turning the election more broadly into do you support gun rights or are you opposed to them. If voters made their decision based on the actual pretty unobtrusive laws that Giron helped get passed, she likely would have survived. But the NRA won the messaging game and turned it into something bigger than it wasâ€”even if that wasn’t trueâ€”and Giron paid the price.â€ť
You can see a light bulb turning on there, if dimly. Because the anti-gunners are never satisfiedâ€”just look at California for your proofâ€”we are obliged to fight like tigers against every erosion of 2nd Amendment rights. When you understand that you can never accept losing, your intensity is always going to be greater than an opponent who figures he can come back again next year.
That this continues to be a surprise to the media and their subsidiaries shows just how obtuse they can be, even when their own research shows the reality in black and white.