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Recap on the Star Tribune

Recap on the Star Tribune Minnesota Poll: Tuesday’s “memorial rally” for Senator Wellstone was the buzz yesterday, and the aftershocks are reflected in the Star Tribune today. The coverage is so lame, however, that it is barely worth a look. The news recap lets the senator’s campaign manager “take responsibility” for what transpired, without exactly exploring what that might mean. The story is “GOP demands equal time; Wellstone aide apologizes; Ventura upset” In its editorial this morning, “The Speech/Straying from memorial to rally,” the Star Tribune instructs those of us who were revolted by the offenses against taste, decorum, and courtesy that the Democrats put on national display Tuesday night in Minneapolis to “try to put it aside.” The editorial’s focus on the egregious Rick Kahn conveniently ignores the other stemwinders from the senator’s son and from Tom Harkin as well as the booing of Republican dignitaries. Rather than to try to “put it aside,” we intend to dwell on it.
Which brings us to yesterday’s Star Tribune Minnesota Poll on what is now the official Mondale/Coleman race. The poll showed Mondale up 47-39, with an 8-point lead. We wrote yesterday at great length about both the patent and latent defects of the poll. For the details see our posts under yesterday’s date. There are two problems with yesterday’s poll. Here is a summary of our take on it.
First, unlike most good political polls of which we know, the Minnesota Poll does not attempt to locate a representative sample, assess the “likely voters” among the sample, and break down the preferences of the likely voters. Rather, the Minnesota poll applies formulas to adjust the raw data it obtains from its survey. We think that as a result of these adjustments the reported result of the poll understates Republican strength generally and Coleman’s strength specifically. The leading example of this phenomenon is the Minnesota Poll’s final (November 5, 2000) pre-election Gore/Bush poll showing Gore with a 10-point lead in Minnesota; in the actual Minnesota popular vote, Gore edged Bush by 2.5 percent. We think much if not all of that margin was produced by the Star Tribune’s own erroneous poll.
Second, the Mondale/Coleman Minnesota Poll reported yesterday had an exaggerated sample of Democratic respondents. The Minnesota Poll’s last Wellstone/Coleman poll had a sample that was 40 percent Democratic; yesterday’s Minnesota Poll had a sample that was 51 percent Democratic. Below we reproduce verbatim the “explanation” provided by the director of the Minnesota Poll, Rob Daves. We also provide the response of Coleman campaign manager Ben Whitney to Daves’ “explanation.” We think Ben has the better of the exchange, but you can judge for yourself.
Daves’ “explanation” reminds me of the late comedian, Professor Irwin Corey. Corey’s specialty was speaking in the peculiar gibberish of professorial expertise. However, Professor Corey was intentionally hilarious; Daves is funny only accidentally.

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