In the past few days, I’ve had a few readers ask me what I thought of the new internal poll done by the Altmire campaign that has him leading Mark Critz 55 to 31 percent, and, among Democrats living in Altmire’s current district (comprising 66 percent of the new 12th) , he leads 73 to 12 percent.
In all honesty, I don’t really have much to say. On their face, the numbers speak for themselves. This is clearly a commanding lead, but my time on the 2010 Onorato campaign has taught me that internal polls are not to be trusted.
In this case, however, I find the poll to be particularly suspect. This is because the poll was conducted by Anzalone Liszt Research, the same pollsters who had Rich Fitzgerald down 53-30 percent against Mark Flaherty ten days before the Allegheny County Executive Democratic primary in 2011. Flaherty, who the ALR poll had down by a whopping 23 points, only lost by 11 points a few days later.
Further detracting from the poll, the Altmire campaign is using it as proof that constituents have turned against Critz because of his legal challenge to Altmire’s nominating petitions. However, the results of the poll simply do not support this conclusion. Here’s why:
The Altmire campaign claims that “voters who said they were following the lawsuit story very closely were turned off by Critz’s tactics” and 49 percent of them say they believe Critz was “playing dirty politics that I find distasteful”, while 45 percent disagreed.
Yet, the margin of error is + 4.9 percent for all voters and higher for subgroups. This means that the margin of error for this particular question is at least 4.9 percent, probably higher. This being the case, the 49-45 numbers above are well within the margin of error.
That being the case, even if Altmire is making gains, it is not because of the legal challenge by the Critz campaign. The poll simply does not support causation based on its own numbers.
Then again, as I said, I don’t trust internal polls, so we’re back to square one.