Monday, October 31, 2005

Rhetoric vs. Reality: Is Rosalind Kurita Really Leading Harold Ford Jr.?

On Friday the Kurita campaign put out a press release claiming that she is leading Harold Ford Jr. in the Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate.

After reading the release, it became clear to me that it was filled with nothing but pure rhetoric. Therefore, I am going to dissect the release and discern the rhetoric from reality.

Rhetoric: In her release, Kurita stated that the Zogby poll illustrates she is "the Democrat with the best chance of winning the General Election." --Kurita for Senate Press Release, 10/28/05

Reality: In truth, the executive summary written by Zogby actually states that Harold Ford Jr.'s the Democrat's best hope." Her comments are directly contradictory to what Zogby's executive summary states. -- Zogby Interactive

In fact, Harold Ford Jr. has gained nearly ten points in the Zogby tracking poll between the August and September months. More evidence that the more he travels the state and people hear his message, the more support he gains.

Rhetoric: Kurita again cites her ‘informed ballot’ poll from March as evidence that she is leading Harold Ford Jr. in the Democratic primary. “That poll, conducted by Decision Research showed Kurita with a 44-38 lead over Ford, Jr. after voters hear a positive message about both candidates.” --Kurita for Senate Press Release, 10/28/05

Reality: First off, the survey she cites was not a direct head-to-head poll; instead it involved an 'informed ballot'. Voters were asked their preference after given information about each candidate. Truth be told, the Kurita campaign has refused to release any topline numbers from their poll: "Without providing many details, Kurita's camp is touting its own poll. Once voters were given information about both candidates, Kurita led Ford 44 percent to 39 percent, according to the Senator's poll. Kurita's campaign would not release the topline numbers, which has led to speculation that her own polls show her trailing in an initial head-to-head match-up with Ford." --Roll Call 04/28/05

Even the release from the Kurita campaign mentioned that the results were from an 'informed ballot'. "The "poll shows that after Democratic voters hear positive information about Congressman Ford and Senator Kurita, she has a five-point lead." --Kurita for Senate Press Release, 03/02/05

A Roll Call article specifically highlights the faults of Kurita's poll and calls it an unreliable predictor of the state of the race: "There is no initial head-to-head primary ballot between Ford and Kurita, which presumably would show Ford with a large lead because of his name-identification edge. The memo only released an "informed ballot" match-up between Ford and Kurita, which supposedly gave those surveyed positive information about both candidates.

Kurita led 44 percent to 37 percent on that ballot - though it is a notoriously unreliable predictor of the state of the race because voters are never exposed to solely positive information on either candidate, nor does the campaign exist in a vacuum. --Roll Call 03/03/05

Is this push-polling? It would not be the first time; Kurita's opponent in 1996 accused her of the practice: "But at a Clarksville-Montgomery County Homebuilders Association meeting this week, Kurita was chastised by Rice for her recent telephone polling of Montgomery County voters. The senator charged that interviewers, rather than simply determining how citizens planned to vote, were smearing her name in the poll. They asked likely voters if they'd vote for Rice if they knew she was ``protecting polluters'' and was ``married to the president and CEO of the biggest polluter in Montgomery County,'' Rice said. --Nashville Banner, 09/19/96

The fact remains that the only real head-to-head polling taken so far between the two shows Congressman Ford leading Kurita by a very large margin. "On the Democratic side, Rep. Ford Jr. leads state Sen. Rosalind Kurita, D-Clarksville, 62 percent to 15 percent, with 23 percent undecided, the poll shows." --Chattanooga Times Free Press, 04/08/05

Despite all the spin from the Kurita campaign, it is clear Harold Ford Jr. is a man on the rise.

The more the Congressman travels the state and the more people learn about him, his uplifting message for Tennessee, and his passion for finding real solutions to real problems, the more support he gains. That is evident.

Alas, let me conclude by saying, "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts."