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Another Election Cycle, Another Couple of Polls to Consider

For some reason, campaign managers and press secretaries never tire of distributing press releases and campaign polls that they apparently assume will be taken at face value and regurgitated by political observers.

We’re six months into the 2010 election cycle, and I have already received a pair of press releases about polls that set off alarms, though for very different reasons.

One of the press releases that I received came from the campaign of Texas Senate hopeful Florence Shapiro, a Republican state Senator.

Shapiro is running for the seat held by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R), who may resign her Senate seat in order to focus on her quest for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next year.

The mid-April press release crows that “Shapiro has highest name ID among announced GOP candidates,” which is a little like saying that Shapiro has the highest favorability ratings when her immediate family was surveyed.

The poll was conducted from March 30 to April 1 by Global Strategy Group, a Democratic firm not in any way connected with Shapiro’s Senate bid. The sample included 603 voters likely to participate in a special election.

The Shapiro campaign’s release cited the Democratic survey and proclaimed that the state Senator’s name identification is more than twice the ID of the “next best known Republican currently running or exploring a campaign for U.S. Senate” and that she “enjoys a +8% net favorability rating,” which is “higher than any other Republican candidate who has taken public steps toward a Senate run.”

The only problem is that none of the other three Republicans who “have taken steps toward a Senate run” — former Texas Secretary of State Roger Williams and state Railroad Commissioners Elizabeth Ames Jones and Michael Williams — is regarded as among the frontrunners in the race, once the field eventually forms.

Most Texas observers expect either Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst or Attorney General Greg Abbott to enter the Senate race if and when Hutchison’s seat becomes vacant.

The Global Strategy Group poll did include Dewhurst in its questionnaire, and the results showed more than twice as many voters familiar with Dewhurst’s name than with Shapiro’s. Dewhurst’s net favorable rating was three times Shapiro’s. Abbott apparently was not tested in the survey.

Shapiro’s press release conveniently left out the Dewhurst numbers, since they weren’t flattering to the state Senator.

The Shapiro press release’s focus on the candidate’s “net favorability rating” advantage over the other announced candidates is also misleading, since it is a net +8 while the largely unknown Jones’ is a statistically identical +5, even though her total name ID is just 8 percent.

The Shapiro release, and the claims contained in it, makes the entire campaign look amateurish.

The other poll and press release comes from the campaign of Congressional hopeful John Garamendi (D), who is running in the expected special election in California’s 10th district, assuming Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) is confirmed to a State Department post.

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