The Arizona Capitol Times' assertion that Steve Moak is now the frontrunner in the crowded District 3 Congressional primary continues to gain steam in the more-mainstream media -- and the mainstream media continues to swallow the bait.
The latest Valley news outlet to do absolutely no research into the source of recent poll numbers (by research we mean pick up a damn phone) is KTAR, which isn't just taking the results of an internal poll, conducted by the campaign of one of the candidates in the race, at face value, but didn't even get it right.
Yesterday, ABC 15 ran a story with the headline "With Quayle Hurting, Moak Takes Frontrunner Position in Distric 3."
The story was based on new poll numbers published in the Arizona Capitol Times exclusive pay-site, Yellow Sheet.
Prior to seeing the ABC 15 story, we hadn't heard of any new poll numbers on the race being released, so we called Cap Times reporter Jeremy Duda to see where he got the information.
It turns out Duda is basing his entire claim that the race has shifted dramatically in favor of Moak on an internal poll conducted by one of the campaigns.
Duda wouldn't say which campaign gave him the new poll numbers.
As we said yesterday, internal polls are basically useless -- they're often conducted with an agenda and tend to only make their way to the media when the candidate who had the poll conducted is in the lead.
Reporting on internal polls isn't the worst thing in the world, as long as readers know the source of the poll numbers, which they did in the Duda's article in Yellow Sheet.
The problem is that more people are probably getting the information from outlets like ABC 15 and KTAR than the exclusive Yellow Sheet, and in both of those outlets' stories on the matter there's no mention of who conducted the poll.
The headline for KTAR's story reads: "Racey Web site Link Hurting Ben Quayle."
The article quotes Duda saying "in an interview Monday, Jeremy Duda of Arizona Capitol Times said polls he has seen show businessman Steve Moak has moved into the lead for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. John Shadegg."
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It goes on to re-hash Quayle's ties to The Dirty suggesting those ties are contributing to his decline in the polls.
Seems like a logical conclusion to draw but there's a problem: in our conversation with Duda yesterday, he told us the poll was conducted before Quayle's ties to The Dirty were even made public.
Unless they own a DeLorean capable of hittin' 88 mph, those polled wouldn't have known about Quayle's "Dirty" connection and therefore could not be using it as a reason to not support the 33-year-old candidate.
KTAR and ABC 15 can continue to lazily cover this race and cite anonymous, internal polls as the basis for their stories but at the end of the day there's only one poll that matters. It's being conducted on August 24.