The McCain Gravy Train: One Stop Too Far?
Last week brought news that blogger Pat Hynes had been hired by the McCain campaign after Pat posted a number of pro-McCain, anti-Romney pieces on Ankle Biting Pundits without disclosing the fact. This week, we hear that Republican pollster Lance Tarrance of the Tarrance Group and RT Strategies joins Straight Talk America as a senior strategist.
What do the two have to do with one another, other than the fact that they're both working for McCain? For one thing, both have been produced work very favorable to the faux frontrunner prior to being hired by his leadership PAC.
As the official pollster behind the Cook Political Report/RT Strategies poll, Tarrance has done public polling on '08 and his polls have seemed to be a few points friendlier to McCain when compared to others.
The Cook/RT Strategies June poll taken in early June showed McCain up by 29-24%, while a Gallup poll conducted in exactly the same timeframe showed Giuliani leading by 29-25%, a result more consistent with most public polls taken since 2005 which generally show a Rudy lead just outside the margin. In a second question, they suppressed Giuliani to purportedly show McCain running away with the nomination, and along with Diageo/Hotline, they've made the agenda-setting decision to poll McCain vs. Clinton but not Giuliani vs. Clinton.
This result is consistent with the Cook/RT poll's other results, both of which showed McCain and Giuliani tied. In stark contrast to most public polls, the Cook/RT poll has never once showed McCain in second. They are usually what media types fall back on when asked to defend their preposterous claim that McCain leads in polls, which an RCP-style average would show he does not.
All of this said, I don't think there are any ethical improprieties here. Tarrance is a reputable pollsters, and unlike ARG, all of his results are within the margin of error. But it is curious how Straight Talk America seems to snap up all the pro-McCain outliers, whether it's in the blogging world, and now in the world of polling and strategy. The surest way to get hired by McCain is to produce work showing him with a shot at the nomination when all the tangible data suggests otherwise.
It would seem that all they're doing is buying themselves an echo chamber. Their ratio of real-world Republican enthusiasts to paid staff just got lower.