Don’t trust those numbers

There have been a rash of “happy” polls out this year from groups with suspect methods, claiming that Republicans are running away with races this fall. While things are good, they might not be quite as good as some of these groups would have us believe. Rasmussen has been a leading provider in these suspect numbers and the folks over at pollster.com take them to task for it.

I don’t know that I necessarily agreed with their conclusion about why Rasmussen’s numbers are always off, but it’s a very interesting read either way. While Rasmussen’s methodology is surely a problem, I’ve been seeing strange numbers like this from Robo-poll companies around the country. We’ve been led by Rassmussen and other robo poll companies to believe their product is as reliable as live calls. Instead I’ve found them to be wildly inaccurate, but I guess that is a discussion for another day. Either way, be very wary of some of the polls that are being pushed around out there as gospel, they are leading a lot of people in the wrong direction.

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The Sith Guide to Campaigns

Ever have a campaign problem and wonder, “How would Darth Vader handle this?”

No?

Okay, me either. But apparently someone had that thought, and they used it to write up a killer article.

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Links Round Up

Here some of the links I checked out this week that I thought were worth sharing.  Some fun and interesting stuff.

Do Not Vote for My Dad
John Mantooth, candidate for judge in Alabama District 21.  There’s a new attack site up against him…authored by his daughter. I’ve seen a lot of attack sites, but have to recommend following donotvoteformydad.com.

World’s best street food
I’m a self-admitted Travel Channel junkie who often relaxes to an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Combining the gross with tasty, CNN rounds up the world’s finest destinations for street food. My kind of fun!

Where and Why are Businesses Closing?
Nothing is more interesting than a great infographic.  The Wall Street Cheat Sheet has visualized the economic decline to show where businesses are shutting their doors and for what reasons.

Japan: Land of the Rising Debt
Worried about Greece and sovereign debt? Well get over it and start losing sleep over Japan. It’s the ticking time bomb nobody is talking about. Japan has the highest debt to GDP of the developed world and in the near term, may be unable to continue servicing its debt.
Full Article Here
The Sleep-buster

Facebook Beats the IRS…barely
The University of Michigan’s Business School Customer Satisfaction Index has determined Facebook is one of the lowest ranked of companies measured by the index. FB ranked 64 out of 100, placing it in the bottom 5% of companies and in the same range as the IRS. Facebook ranked poorly due to privacy concerns. My question is that if people are this concerned about privacy, then how come they are signing up for public social networking sites in droves? Facebook hit 500 million users this week. If you don’t want to share, don’t sign up!  Sorry world, stalking has it’s price and we get to watch you too.

Obama’s Approval Rating Is Down in 49 States
Obama is losing ground in all states except Delaware.  Must be the tax free shopping.  Wish you had voted for McCain now?  You’re not alone. A plurality of voters believe the country would have been better off if John McCain had beaten Mr. Obama in 2008.

Hitting Up The ATM In Antartica…Imagine that bank fee.
Here’s an interview with David Widgett, VP of ATM Banking of Wells Fargo explaining the challenges of operating the world’s southern-most ATM. Yes, I seriously read this.

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America is at a defining moment…again

Attention political speechwriters/copywriters: just when you really think nobody pays any attention to the stuff you write, disaster strikes. The National Review Online and Politico have caught the Obama Administration over using the phrase “this is a defining moment for America”. They uncovered at least 8 major speeches where different challenges and issues were all billed as “America’s defining challenge”.

Read it here over at the Campaign Spot.

At one point, the phrase was used three times in major speeches in the same month to represent talking about his own election as president and fighting for education reform.

Obama is likely trying to offer us a glimpse of his presidential vision, but instead he’s just become another victim of rushed speechwriting. America may be at a defining moment, but not every issue, every speech, or everything Obama says is what is defining our future. Bigger challenges and forces are driving our history. The distinctions are clear, and they are noticed by voters and the media.

This is a great opportunity that reminds us when delivering a message, context is everything.

Every public statement matters and the media will alway interpret them as a part of the bigger picture. Your press releases, emails, tv ads, and direct mail all build a narrative about your campaign. Many campaigns approach each public statement as if it’s the only thing people will read and forget that for reporters and voters, the context of the comments will often take precedence over what is actually said. That is because each statement builds on the next and the sum of the statements is the substance of your campaign.

When managing your larger context, remember that in the end it’s always about the voters and not you. And if it’s the other way around, consider whether you’re running to serve yourself or to serve the people. Making that narrative a self-centered conversation isn’t going to sit well with voters who are looking for your help and your solutions.

Obama’s right, we’re at a defining moment – not for America, but for our political discourse. Can we have campaigns that are about the people and their problems, or will they continue to be about ego and candidates whose true motivation is themselves? As campaign professionals, we need to take great care that we are good stewards of the political conversation and do our best to remember our greater purpose and the greater context of the things we say and write. Not because when we get sloppy we get caught, but because we can do great damage to our candidate’s political image and the larger debate in our country.

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America’s Mood

Harvard and Northwestern have a new study out examining the twitter traffic of over three million Americans to illustrate the mood of the country.  They’ve animated it for our enjoyment.

Notice New York is always negative. I appreciate Harvard’s efforts, but I could have told them that.

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Fun Stuff Around the Web

Every week I’ll have more stories to share then time to write. Here are some links I enjoyed that are worth your time:

Most Arguments in the Car Are Over Directions, Says Survey
Nothing to do with politics, but the results are comical.

Government Spending by Another Name
Greg Mankiw explains the use of special tax rules in Congressional budgeting. This is a pretty popular practice these days and are mystery to most people. A quick, but eye-opening read.

Six in 10 Workers Hold No Hope of Receiving Social Security
Public confidence continues to drop for the long term health of Social Security. Mine bottomed out about a year ago at zero.

When Comparisons Collide With Careful Thinking
A great article on NFL concussions and Chinese suicide rates proving a valuable point about false comparisons and data manipulation. Anyone with a political science degree has heard the phrase repeatedly “causation seldom causality”. It’s funny how many times a day you see accomplished professionals twisting data to demonstrate relationships that are in no way linked to reality.

The Best Inequality Graph
Great graph created by University of Arizona Professor Lane Kenworthy demonstrating the differences in inflation-adjusted incomes of the poorest 20%, middle 60% and top 1% of American households since the 1970’s. No degree in math or stats needed to understand the graph. The take away…If the lines were closers together I’d probably own that iPad I want.

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Important Lesson: In A Crisis, Don’t Fake Your Command Center

With more damage already done than can ever be repaired, BP finds a way to make things worse.  Internet detectives (or really bored people) have studied the photos of BP’s Crisis Command Center and found that the photos have been altered.  Using some pretty poor Photoshop work, BP has graphically replaced information showing on some the crisis center monitors, especially those filming the cap.  See for yourself here.

Americablog.com broke the story and now the Washington Post is piling on.

Every campaign, either for public affairs or for public office, should know that effective crisis communications are vital.  The last thing a campaign wants to do after a disaster is anything more to damage its own credibility, especially lying further to try and make the situation less of a disaster.    Altering photos for no apparent reason is a major screw up and only further reinforces the negative narrative — that it was cheating and cutting corners that caused the accident in the first place.

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