If you get the majority of your news about the crowded District 3 Congressional primary from the mainstream media, you probably think candidate Ben Quayle's ties to the Scottsdale-based sleaze site "The Dirty," has sent his poll numbers into the tank.
That's because several news outlets covering the race are citing a poll released last week by the Arizona Capitol Times, in which Quayle's poll numbers have dropped from 24 to 13 percent in about a month.
Simultaneously, businessman Steve Moak's numbers have shot from 5 percent to 17 percent, making him -- in the words of Cap Times reporter Jeremy Duda -- "the frontrunner" in the race.
As we've pointed out in prior posts, the poll is a sham, and conclusions drawn from it have not only been presumptive, but inaccurate.
The Huffington Post is the latest news outlet to take the bait and credit "The Dirty" with Quayle's demise in the polls.
In an article posted this morning, with the headline "Ben Quayle's Primary Lead VANISHES After Series of Embarrassing Mishaps," the Huff Post cites Duda's poll and says the reason for Quayle's decline is his connection with "The Dirty."
We won't argue that Quayle's campaign has had a few (ahem) mishaps over the past couple weeks but that's not why his numbers suck in the poll used as the basis for this article.
The poll, according to Duda, was conducted before news of Quayle's ties to "The Dirty" were even made public.
However, even Duda -- the same guy who told us Monday the poll was conducted prior to the "Dirty" news -- is quoted in the Huff Post as saying: "Quayle's connections to the website have put Moak in the lead position in District 3, and according to some polling, former state Sen. Jim Waring isn't far behind. Waring is famous for his campaign door-knocking and has met thousands of voters on the campaign trail, but he's only raised about a quarter-million dollars, and that may not be enough to match Moak and Quayle's spending."
We're not saying Quayle's "Brock Landers" cameo on "The Dirty" did much to help his street cred among primary voters -- we can only imagine it hurt him -- but there's no polling data to suggest it's the reason for his decline.
Not to mention, the poll Duda -- and the other news outlets that have covered the story -- are citing is an internal poll from the campaign of one of the candidates in the race. Duda wouldn't tell us which one, though.
Internal polls conducted by a campaign are about as scientific as Valley Fever's daily Morning Poll. To put that into perspective, last week we wanted to know if readers thought former County Attorney Andrew Thomas looks like super-bully Scutt Farkus from A Christmas Story. Ninety-nine percent of the several hundred who voted said yes. Let's just say it's not exactly "scientific."
Internal polls can serve a purpose, though: they get media-folk squawkin' -- as has been the case with the less-than-legit poll given to the Arizona Capitol Times by the campaign of someone in the race.
When polls are released, and numbers change, the immediate question: "why did it happen?" -- a question journalists analyze and analyze, and then over-analyze.
From a campaign's perspective, a week after another candidate is tied to a sleazy Web site seems like an opportune time to drop the results of an internal poll on the media -- just when the buzz over Quayle and "The Dirty" began to die down, the whole story is being re-hashed a week later by talking heads trying to make sense of poll numbers that, we've come to find out, don't even apply to the discussion.
Take the Huffington Post article, for example. In trying to make sense of Duda's poll numbers, the author recaps all of the demons that have plagued the campaign.
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Moak's opening was provided by a series of antagonistic news reports concerning Ben Quayle's involvement in a bawdy gossip website, his allegedly misleading use of two young girls -- his nieces -- in a campaign mailer that touted his "family man" credentials, and the 33-year-old's less-than-stellar voting record.
Not bad politicking, to say the least.
We can't say whether Quayle's "Dirty" past has done anything to hurt his poll numbers -- unless District 3 Republicans are into sleazin' up the Scottsdale bar scene, we can only imagine that it has. But until we see some polling data from someone other than one of his opponents, we're not takin' the bait.