Allen and the Polls

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Slate analyst and pollster.com proprietor Mark Blumenthal says a new Survey USA poll shows that the racial insensitivity charges leveled at George Allen of late haven’t had much impact at the polls. I’m surprised that Blumenthal, a savvy and experienced pollster himself, didn’t take a closer look at the poll. From Survey USA’s website:

On Sunday 9/24, after Allen had been accused of using racial slurs in college, he led by 7 in SurveyUSA Sunday-only data . On Monday 9/25, after Allen strongly denied the accusations, he led by 11 in SurveyUSA Monday-only data. On Tuesday 9/26, after more people corroborated the accusations, Allen trailed Webb by 3 points, in Tuesday-only data. The 5-point Allen advantage shown here, when the 3 days of data are combined and averaged, cannot be considered stable.

In other words, Virginia voters do seem to be responding to the charges. The first charge hurt Allen a little. His strong denial in turn gave him a bounce. But as more people came forward to corroborate Allen’s use of epithets, he was in a freefall by the last day of the three-day poll. He lost fourteen points in one day! Now it’s possible that his ensuing explanations and countercharges against Webb will stabilize the numbers. But I think Blumenthal’s clearly mistaken to conclude that the racism charges aren’t affecting Allen’s standing in the polls.

Also, as Dave Weigel notes, the Survey USA poll also seems to have grossly underrepresented Hispanics. It’s rather unfathomable that 80 percent of Virginia’s Hispanics are going to vote for fairly staunchly anti-immigration candidate.

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