The Angus King Empire strikes back

Since Aug. 16 when we posted our blog showing that Angus King’s numbers had slipped by 10 points since he failed to respond to a negative ad put out by the US Chamber of Commerce, the King campaign has been doing all they can to discredit our analysis. They have been attacking on facebook, calling our editors, talking to reporters, and responding in the comments section of our blog all in attempt to change the subject (“As we say in politics, if someone is saying something that is accurate, but that you don’t like, attack the messenger!”). Most reporters/editors/bloggers/FB friends have seen the attacks for what they are and just moved on. In comes Bill Nemitz.

Unfortunately, Mr. Nemitz decided to buy the King story and attack our credibility in his column yesterday. Instead of doing his usual good job investigating the story by contacting either of us or reading the actual poll (which we would have gladly provided), or checking with other pollsters to see if the poll was done accurately (as we did), or checking with people who may have been polling at the same time (such as pollster Mike Tipping who wrote in his blog; “the results are consistent with where the race is at this point.”), or even waiting until today’s Bangor Daily news article in which King’s campaign manager basically confirms the trend we saw on King (“Kay Rand, King’s campaign manager, said that the campaign’s internal research showed an initial shift from support for King and Summers to “undecided” after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sponsored ads critical of King during telecasts of the Olympic Games in late July and early August.”), Nemitz simply did what he accuses us of doing; buying a campaign’s “junk news” and publishing it as “real news.”

Why no contact from Nemitz?  “I was very pressed for time (long story) and had much ground to cover,” he said in an email response to our inquiry. “But I would note that the column was on your and Phil’s blog posting, which in my opinion spoke for itself.” Yes, indeed it did.

Had Nemitz done any of the above and published what he learned, we are quite sure his column would have come to a very different conclusion about the poll (although we heartily agree with him that Mark Thiessen’s column leaped way too far from where the polling led when he insinuated this is now Summers’ race to win). In fact, all he really had to do was share our blog with his readers, since it carefully laid out the parameters of the poll and why it was legitimate. But I guess linking to our post might have allowed his readers to draw a different conclusion than he sought (or perhaps his competitive juices didn’t permit him to link a Bangor Daily News column with a Press Herald column), so Nemitz gave people no way to find it. We, of course, believe in full disclosure, so here is Nemitz’s column in full.

Let’s set the record straight. We knew from the get go that the poll was from a Republican firm (which we disclosed) and hence we were immediately skeptical. At no time were we told the poll was paid for by the Summers campaign, nor did it matter since we were already quite skeptical of whether the numbers were real. That is why we insisted on seeing the poll for ourselves and doing all the investigative work mentioned above.

That work showed no bias toward the Republican Party (it had LePage’s numbers terrible and Obama’s excellent), nor a bias toward Summers or against Dill (it showed them both stuck in exactly the same position they have been in for two months), nor did it even show King in a bad light as it had him with an 18 point lead and a 55 percent favorability rate (someone tell us again why King is complaining about these numbers?). In fact, the only interesting angle was that King had dropped 10 points since the last public poll due to the negative attacks. So that is what we discussed and analyzed.

As an example of how we would not do something, the people from the King campaign are now floating (to us and others) that they have numbers disputing the Moore poll (after they initially said they had no such polling). We immediately sent an overture saying we would be happy to review the numbers and give them the same treatment we gave the Moore polling. Unfortunately, they immediately said they wouldn’t release them. That is usually a sign that the numbers are not legit or non-existent. However, the invitation is still open.

In the end, we’re sorry that Bill got duped into thinking the polling was automatically illegitimate simply because of who paid for it. (Should we jump to the same conclusion about his liberal perspective because his salary is paid for by a Democratic philanthropist? Of course not. We should analyze his content based on its merits, as he should have done with us.) We are equally sorry that he questioned our analysis without contacting us or analyzing the poll himself. Next time, just call. Both of us try to answer our phones on the first ring.