Mitch McConnell’s Super PAC Trots Out Last Minute ‘Poll’: Luther Strange Losing Alabama GOP Senate Runoff by Lesser Margin

Roy Moore and Luther Strange, candidates for the Alabama special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat of now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Brynn Anderson,Butch Dill / AP Images

On Thursday the Senate Leadership Fund, a Super PAC associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), trotted out a “poll” that purports to show that the Republican establishment candidate, Senator Luther Strange (R-AL), trails conservative Judge Roy Moore by only one point in the upcoming September 26 Alabama U.S. Senate Republican primary runoff election.

That result is far different from the Real Clear Politics average of polls, which shows Moore leading Strange by 11 points, 44.4 percent to 33.4 percent.

The Emerson College Poll, the most recent poll listed in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, was conducted between September 8 and September 9, and shows Moore leading Strange by 14 points, 40 percent to 26 percent.

Another recent poll from the firm Strategic National, conducted between September 6 and September 7, shows Moore with a 15 point lead over Strange, 51 percent to 35 percent.

The Senate Leadership Fund poll was conducted by an organization known as Voter Surveys and Consulting. That group’s Washington representative, Jan R van Lohuizen, was identified as the author of an accompanying poll memo that failed to include the basic information most professional pollsters include when announcing results–a topline summary that includes the questions asked, the demographics of the poll, and the specifics of the questioning methodology.

Seeing the actual questions asked in a poll are critical in determining the poll’s reliability and objectivity. “Push polling,” the practice of setting up a head-to-head match up that favors the candidate who is paying for the poll by preceding that question with a number of misleading questions that cause the respondent to lean towards one candidate over the other, is easily detectable when the actual questions asked in the poll are made public by the pollster.

When those questions are not made public, the possibility of “push polling” is usually a consideration when reporting on the poll.

The Senate Leadership Fund poll’s lack of transparency in this regard apparently disqualified it from inclusion in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. Typically, when Breitbart News and other reputable news organizations undertake a poll, they include the top line summary details so readers have the ability to judge the poll’s fairness and accuracy. Such polls are usually included in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

Such was not the case with today’s poll released by the Senate Leadership Fund.

Here are the slim details about the poll provided by van Lohuizen in his poll memo:

We updated our survey findings on the Republican runoff election in Alabama over the weekend of Sept. 9-10. We find that the race has closed since our last poll that was taken between 8/21 and 8/23, as GOP voters become increasingly aware of Moore’s record and positions. This new poll finds the race now virtually tied with Luther Strange trailing Roy Moore by only 1%: Moore currently gets 41% of the vote compared to 40% for Luther Strange. By comparison, Strange trailed by 4% two weeks ago. In just over a month’s time, the gap between Moore and Strange has shrunk from 6.1 points (Moore’s margin over Strange in the August 15 primary election) to a virtual dead heat.

In addition, we saw a substantial change in the image ratings for Roy Moore. Thirty-nine percent now have an unfavorable impression of Moore, an increase of 8% compared to 2 weeks ago, while favorable impressions declined by 5% (from 59% to 54%).

Donald Trump continues to be very popular with Alabama primary voters, getting an 83% favorable rating, unchanged from our last look.

The survey was conducted by telephone on 9/9 and 9/10/2017. We interviewed 604 GOP primary voters; the voters were selected randomly from a voter file consisting of people with a history of voting in Republican primaries. The margin of error associated with these findings is +/- 4%.

Breitbart News requested a top line summary of the poll from both van Lohuizen and the Senate Leadership Fund, but received no response.

The Senate Leadership Fund has been aggressively promoting the poll results, as reported in a Washington Examiner article Thursday afternoon, to a number of media outlets through email communications.

The Examiner article failed to mention the poll’s lack of transparency.

Back in 2012 van Lohuizen, who served as President George W. Bush’s pollster in his 2004 re-election campaign, put out a memo to Republican political operatives on same sex marriage in which he recommended:

People who believe in equality under the law as a fundamental principle, as I do, will agree that this principle extends to gay and lesbian couples; gay and lesbian couples should not face discrimination and their relationship should be protected under the law. People who disagree on the fundamental nature of marriage can agree, at the same time, that gays and lesbians should receive essential rights and protections such as hospital visitation, adoption rights, and health and death benefits.

Recently van Lohuizen has conducted polls for Senator McConnell and the Senate Leadership Fund, sources tell Breitbart News.

As Breitbart News reported previously, the Senate Leadership Fund has spent more than $2.5 million in support of Strange’s struggling candidacy, and his poll numbers in most polls continue to lag behind Judge Moore in the double digits.


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