Three Types of Lies

The Libertarian Lass, Gayle FalkenthalThe Libertarian Lass, Gayle Falkenthal 6 Comments


Pollster John Nienstedt’s discussion on polling and the reasons polls fail to accurately gauge voter behavior (and what polls can and CANNOT do) has been a hit on the post-election poliwonk social circuit. Among the topics on tap, Nienstedt has provided his insight on the variance in results among the polls conducted over the past few months on Prop D, the recently defeated sales tax initiative.

John generously provided his slide on Prop D so we could share it with Rostra readers. Who says number crunchers are dull?

Competitive Edge Prop D Slide

Prop D Polls - "What, Me Worry?"

For anyone the slightest bit skeptical on John’s street cred, CERC’s strategic advice helped lead to major victories for  Chula Vista Yes on Proposition G (Fair and Open Competition),  Gore for San Diego County Sheriff,  Horn and Roberts for San Diego County Supervisor,   San Diego County Yes on Proposition A (Fair and Open Competition),  San Diego No on Proposition D (City Sales Tax),  and Lorie Zapf for San Diego City Council.

John also contributed to the efforts of Adams for Congress (Florida 24), Committee to Improve Magnolia Schools – Yes on Measure I, Douglas and Packard for Carlsbad City Council, Faulconer for San Diego City Council, Garrick for California State Assembly, Hall for Carlsbad Mayor, Quintero for Fresno City Council, Riverside County Measure M, Runner for California Board of Equalization, Wapner for Ontario City Council, Wyland for California State Senate, Yes on Measure I Committee (West Sonoma County), and Yes on Prop P Committee, Encinitas.

That’s what I call cred.


Comments 6

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  2. The issue that needs to be pursued are early “polls” by political consultants that show a prop will pass — which then results in a juicy contract — win or lose — for the consultant. The consultants convince the politicians that a tax increase will pass easily, using, uhhhhh, unscientific polling methods — essentially doing “push polls” and calling them unbiased.

    Should not the press be hammering these hucksters for false advertising for political gain? And are not these early bogus polls paid for with taxpayer money?

  3. Richard, you’re so right. In his road show this week, John Nienstedt discussed a poll done for the San Diego Unified School District on the likelihood of a parcel tax measure passing… the measure that eventually became Proposition J. The poll and consultant’s time to present the information cost the district $130,000. This was reported by news media at the time. The San Diego County Taxpayers Association asked Nienstedt for his assessment of the poll, and it had so many flaws it was completely worthless. There’s $130,000 plus whatever it took to run the Yes on J campaign (a 2/3 measure which went down in flames) that could have been spent on our kids’ education. This to me is as close as it gets to defrauding the school district and stealing money from classrooms.

  4. I attended the school board meeting where the “consultant” presented his findings. He even said that the polling was not enough for 2/3. The entire school board voted to place it on the ballot, even though they knew it wouldn’t likely pass. In the end, the number of participants of the poll who answered the “proper” questions totaled 115. I sat there astonished. I shouldn’t have been surprised…this group of people use hope as their number one strategy.

    They hoped that legislation would be passed to drop it to a simple majority…oh wait…they knew that wouldn’t take effect in time for this year’s ballot. I am afraid our children are led by a bunch of children, who, if they keep their fingers crossed and think happy thoughts, will get what they want.

  5. GOP Mom, I can’t imagine being able to sit through the original presentation without wanting to jump to your feet and make a scene over this travesty. SDUSD school board members who voted to go forward with Prop J should reimburse the cost of the poll to the district. If they can’t write the checks themselves, perhaps they can hold a few bake sales or sell wrapping paper to raise the money… just like the kids and parents do so they can pay for “extras” like classroom supplies and field trips. Outrageous.

  6. Not all jurisdictions do the wrong thing with polling data. Competitive Edge Research (my firm) was retained to provide research to a Southern CA city (outside San Diego County). Just like San Diego, the city was looking for ways to raise funds through via a sales tax. Our polling showed that support and opposition were even and the arguments in favor were not too persuasive. In other words, though passing a sales tax would be possible, the odds would be against them. Based on this realistic assessment, the city decided not to pursue the measure.

    The same City retained CERC to conduct a survey on a measure which would change the city charter. The data showed the change was not popular and we reported that. This time the City put it on the ballot anyway and it went down in flames as predicted.

    Decision makers — when their heads are clear — can use good polling information to make wise decisions. When they run into problems, sometimes it’s with their heads and sometimes it’s with their polls.

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