Campaign Confidential

Kirk Pollster Disputes Daily Kos Poll Showing Incumbent Vulnerable

By Brett Lieberman

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Congressman Mark Kirk’s pollster is calling a poll commissioned by the liberal Daily Kos blog flawed.

The poll of the district with a large bloc of Jewish voters north of Chicago showed Kirk, A Republican, leading Democrat Dan Seals 44 percent to 38 percent among 400 voters surveyed. The poll had a 5 percent margin of error.

McLaughlin & Associates argues the poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional District by Research 2000 over-sampled voters age 18-29, Democrats and Independents, while under-sampling Republicans. The poll was also conducted Sept. 30-Oct. 1, which included Rosh Hashanah, when observant Jews would not take part. McLaughlin claims this hurt Kirk, but Kos claims Seals’ support would have been even stronger had those voters been sampled.

Here’s the memo:

Executive Summary: The ultra left-wing Web site Daily Kos commissioned a poll by Research 2000, which was conducted in Illinois’ 10th Congressional District from 9/30-10/1.  The survey was flawed on three levels.  First, the survey over-sampled voters age 18-29 while under-sampling voters 60+.  Second, the survey over-sampled Democrats and Independents while under-sampling Republicans.  Third, the survey was intentionally conducted on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah that would exclude observant Jewish Democratic voters who lean more toward Kirk than average Democrats.

Skewed Age Sample:  According to the database of actual registered voters, only 16 percent of voters are aged 18-29, while 30 percent are over age 60.  The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 19 percent of those surveyed between the ages of 18-29 and only 18 percent of voters over age 60.  Mark Kirk has always done better among older voters.  Skewing the poll by age skews it toward Seals.  

Faulty Party Sample:  Over more than two years of polling, our surveys found on average that the 10th District breaks down as follows: 34% Republican, 34% Democrat and 32% Independent.  The Research 2000 poll filled sample quotas differently, showing 35% Democrats, 36% Independent and only 29% Republicans.  Surveying more Democrats and less Republicans will obviously create an artificially closer race.  In the 8 years that we have polled for Mark Kirk, we have never had Republicans among likely voters to be less than 33%.

Excluding Kirk-Leaning Jewish Voters:  It is no surprise that DailyKos, which has come under attack by Democrats like Harold Ford Jr. and Lanny Davis for anti-Israel and anti-Semitic content, chose to conduct its poll on the Jewish High Holy Day of Rosh HaShanah.  The 10th District is almost 20 percent Jewish – one of the larger Jewish districts in the nation.  In addition to being disrespectful, the poll excluded observant Jewish voters who tend to vote for Mark Kirk more than average Democrats.  In our last survey, Kirk did 25 percent better among Jewish voters than a typical Republican.  By having fewer older voters, fewer Republicans and fewer ticket-splitting Jewish voters, DailyKos made sure the Democratic quota broke more for Dan Seals to give him an extra boost.  And even with their biases, Mark Kirk still is leading.  



Responding to McLaughlin & Associates’ analysis, Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas said that assertions that the site was anti-Semitic and the poll results biased .were completely unfounded. “It’s ridiculous that we would time a poll to exclude Jewish voters. If we we’d want to cook this poll we’d over-sample Jews” because they overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, he Moulitsas told the Forward.

“To take that next step and say that we’re anti-Semitic and polling on certain days to hurt Republican is absolutely absurd,” he said.

From the reaction, it’s obvious that Kirk’s campaign is feeling the heat, he added. “Nobody reacts this way to a poll that says they are winning,” Moulitsas said.

While Daily Kos commissioned the poll, Moulitsas maintained the polling firm, which is also used by some independent newspapers for polling, conducted the survey unfettered by the blog. He publishes the results regardless of the outcome. “We’ve run polls that show Democrats getting blown out of the water,” he said. Daily Kos also publishes the complete poll results so readers can review all the underlying data themselves.

Steve Sheffey, a Seals supporter and former president of CityPAC, a pro-Israel political action committee based in Chicago, also took issue with McLaughlin’s interpretation.

He called it unfair to label Daily Kos anti-Semitic because of the posts of a few individuals on the site that’s an open forum, where anybody can post his or her thoughts. Similarly, it would be unfair to label all Republicans or all Democrats as anti-Semitic because of the comments of a few individuals, he said.

Javi Mon. Oct 6, 2008

Kirk is in big trouble, and this hysterical behavior shows that he knows it. Kirk knows his pandering days are numbered, because Seals is just as strong on Israel as Kirk is, and Seals is a businessman and family man.

JeffF Mon. Oct 6, 2008

So DailyKos, an entire community of folks, is now anti-Semitic? That's a rather laughable assertion. Does the Kirk campaign have any evidence to support this remarkable assertion, other than the fact that DailyKos happened to sponsor a poll that makes their candidate look vulnerable?

KeithM Mon. Oct 6, 2008

Wow, that's a nice example of lying with statistics. "In our last survey, Kirk did 25 percent better among Jewish voters than a typical Republican. " Without knowing what he actually got (or what the "typical Republican" received) from Jewish voters, that bit of information is utterly useless. It might mean that instead of only 4 Jewish voters voting for the Republican out of 100, he managed 5. That's a 25% increase in Jewish voters who voted for him...but only 1% more of actual votes.

Karen Fujisawa Wed. Oct 8, 2008

A new poll conducted by Roll Call, shows Seals ahead 52% to Kirk's same 44%. I'll bet Kirk wishes he hadn't complained so much about the first poll, especially using such a vile interpretation of the Dailykos and their motives. Seals surge in the SUSA poll seems to indicate the opposite, as well as the 2006 election results, where Dan received about 70% of the Jewish vote. The Kirk group also took it upon themselves to unfairly criticize the highly respected, Representatives Howard Berman and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, for the crime of endorsing Dan Seals. Additionally, Kirk's staffer, Caryn Garber was caught, in 2006, threatening the president of Tel Aviv University to withhold funding if he didn't fire a board member, Robert Schrayer, (recently deceased), also, merely because he switched his support to Seals. One might wonder who is really anti-semetic.

Moses Thu. Feb 12, 2009 "Democrats tend to be more anti-Semitic than Republicans On nearly all variables, Democrats held more anti-Semitic beliefs than Republicans, reversing a historical trend. These attitudes may reflect the various demographic compositions of these two parties. The finding may come as a surprise to many Jews, who are much more heavily aligned with the Democrats rather than the Republicans. This finding requires research about the reasons for this difference."

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