What's-his-name tied with Feingold? Get real!

Printer-friendly versionSend by email

Great news for Ron Johnson: No one's ever heard of him, he has only been a candidate for about a week, he hasn't spent a nickel on TV, and he's tied with Russ Feingold in the US Senate race.

If you believe that, see me about a deal on some hot Gulf Coast real estate.

Yes, our friends at Rasmussen Reports are back with another Republican-slanted poll. [UPDATE: The governor's race numbers are good for Republican Scott Walker, too.  Who would have expected it?  From Rasmussen, everyone.]

We've noted several times in the past how Republicans always seem to fare better in Rasmusssen's polls than in others -- quite a coincidence since they are a Republican firm that doesn't say who's paying for the frequent polls they keep releasing.

Their latest poll says Ron Johnson, a guy who's never been in politics or in the public eye, has 67% name recognition after campaigning for one week, without ever buying any television time. There must be a lot more people reading newspapers than we think.  Johnson is best-known for being caught on video rippping down one of his opponent's signs at the state convention.

Once again, Rasmussen proves that television advertising doesn't work.  Terrence Wall has spent $500,000 on TV, but fewer people know him know than knew him in February, and Johnson has almost the same name identification as Wall.  Again, that's if you believe Rasmussen.

The idea that Johnson's even with Feingold is preposterous -- not that he can't eventually make it a race, if he spends the $10-15 million he's said he will. But it is impossible to suspend disbelief enough to buy this latest Rasmussen fiction.

Here's some recent commentary on Rasmussen from The New Republic, discussing a Rasmussen poll which shows disastrous ratings for President Obama -- numbers not reflected in anyone else's polling:

Rasmussen polling occupies an odd place in the political culture. In the conservative world, it is the gold standard. If you go to a conservative set on basically any random day, you'll see somebody touting a Rasmussen poll. Here is John McCormack at the Weekly Standard touting a poll showing huge support to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Here is Peter Wehner at Commentary doing the same. Rasmussen frequently asks unusual polling questions that produce results almost certainly calculated to demonstrate public support for the conservative position. (Here's one example of a loaded Rasmussen question.) Rasmussen has become a right-wing celebrity. He's the author of a conservative book. This fall he is a featured guest on National Review's cruise, along with other conservative luminaries.

Part of Rasmussen's celebrity status derives from the fact that even his polls on commonly-asked questions skew strongly toward the conservative position...

Rasmussen's role in the public debate is problematic for several reasons. It's not altogether clear what causes him to consistently project results so much at odds with those of the rest of the polling community. But if there is something problematic about his methods, he has little incentive to correct it, because Rasmussen's business model increasingly relies upon maintaining the loyalty of staunch Republicans...

But the more problematic dynamic is Rasmussen's symbiotic relationship with the conservative base. The habitual practice by conservative pundits of quoting only Rasmussen polling reinforces conservatives' overweening certainty that they embody public opinion. It's an important component of right-wing epistemic closure, the Republican base having its own pollster who always tells them what they want to hear.

The question now is whether Wisconsin news media will continue to report Rasmussen numbers without any questions or qualifiers. Or is that even a question?