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Is Campaign Carl Signaling The Fix Is In?

Reported by Judy - October 19, 2006 -

Campaign Carl Cameron claimed on the "Live Desk" on Wednesday (October 18, 2006) that national polls on the November election over-represent Democrats. Is he signaling that Diebold has the Republicans' back?

Cameron ostensibly was reporting on Republican Chris Shays' tight race with Democrat Diane Farrell, although Fox News never put Farrell's name on the screen. The lower third only read: "Chris Shays and Challenger in a Dead Heat."

But after a brief mention that Farrell now leads Shays, although within the margin of error, Cameron launched into a discussion of the inadequacies of polling.

"There is an analysis that’s been done by a Republican pollster in Washinton -- his name is Dave Winston -- who’s taken a look at what the exit poll voting ratios have actually been in terms of registered voters over the last three years and it shows that there’s been an uptick in Republican voter registration," Cameron said.

"That is not represented in a lot of the samples of the national polls of what we call the generic ballot, which is to say when one is asked would you vote Democrat or Republican, how would you vote? Those most popular national polls are based on samples that Mr. Winston argues is outdated and therefore skewed towards Democrats by a few percentage points.

"It may give a somewhat misleading picture of what the national mood is, particularly when you consider that all of thse issues ultimately turn on local issues and it’s the local issues and the local ballots that count most and when you look at them, again, there’s about 30 Republican inumbents who are vulnerable. Democrats need to win half of them to take over the majority. That’s not an easy task in any environment when you’re talking about ousting Republicans, Martha."

As with most Fox News reports, Cameron's is so vague that it's difficult to determine what actual information is being conveyed. Cameron doesn't mention how he came across this information. Did Winston have a news conference, send out a news release, or have a beer with Cameron?He doesn't mention which national generic ballot polls have failed to take into account higher Republican voter registratiion. Did his own Fox News' Opinion Dynamics Poll fail to do so? That poll showed a 9-point advantage for Democrats in the generic ballot question. Is Cameron saying that is wrong? And if it's just a point or two closer, what difference does it make? Is he talking about some other poll? If so, why doesn't he name which ones are off? After all, this is a 24-hour news channel. You'd think Fox could spare a few seconds for details like that.

Then Cameron goes on to admit what most people realize--the generic ballot question isn't a very good predictor of House races anyway. The districts have been so gerrymandered by Republican legislatures that most incumbents are safe no matter what. Only about 30 House Republicans are in contested races and analysts will look at local polling to assess them anyway. The generic ballot works somewhat better for predicting Senate trends.

So what was the purpose of his vague report on a not-very-significant point about polling? To give aid and comfort to Republican volunteers and keep them working until the last minute? Or to signal that the fix is in and Diebold's voting machines will come through for Republicans? I hope the first question is right.