slanted or planted?

In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer op-ed titled "Impeach Cheney now," House Judiciary Committee members U.S. Reps. Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) state that a large number of Americans believe Dick Cheney should be impeached:

The charges against Cheney are not personal. They go to the core of the actions of this administration, and deserve consideration in a way the Clinton scandal never did. The American people understand this, and a majority supports hearings, according to a Nov. 13 poll by the American Research Group. In fact, 70 percent of voters say the vice president has abused his powers, and 43 percent say he should be removed from office right now. The American people understand the magnitude of what has been done and what is at stake if we fail to act. It is time for Congress to catch up.
Think about that for a moment.

43 percent of the American public want Cheney impeached?

Sorry, but I don't think that reflects reality. It just doesn't pass my common sense smell test.

What or who in the hell is the American Research Group?

The poll is here and it claims to be based on a representative sample, but I just wonder....

The indispensible A Jacksonian did some digging into the mystery man behind ARG, and while the guy doesn't seem to rise to the level of Norman Hsu, there certainly seems to be a suspicious aroma. A Jacksonian also cites a Washington Post article which consigned ARG to the graveyard back in 2004. (Hmmm.... Maybe it should be called the "American Zombie Research Group"....)

Commenters in various places are saying things like this:

ARG is a fraud. They have no boiler room and don't actually make calls. Dick Bennett is basically a pay-for-play extortionist. If you slide him some money, he puffs up your numbers.

He also did "work" for Charlie Bass. Bass was the GOP congressman who got bounced out of office by Rep. Paul Hodes, Obama's national co-chair. Bennett has an axe to grind with the Obama camp, and he's cooking up bogus numbers as a way of getting even.

And then there's this:
Dick Bennett is a sleazy second tier pollster with a pay-for-play reputation.

Consider this. He's based in Manchester, NH. But the only candidates who have hired him (former US Rep. Charlie Bass, Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, and former US Senator John Durkin) also hired other firms to conduct their "real" polling. Campaigns occasionally throw money at Bennett because they know that he will leak puffed up numbers to the Union Leade and Telegraph.

It's also telling that the major media putlets in NH never utilize ARG. WMUR-TV is located about a quarter mile from ARG's two room headquarters, but they generally hire UNH to conduct their polls. The Concord Monitor and Boston Globe also use other Mass/NH firms, but don't want their name associated with the con man Bennett.

And more:
I've worked in the trenches in NH politics for twenty years. I've run for office myself and run campaigns for others. I know all about Dick Bennett's act. I know the campaign operatives who paid him off the books to get a nice story in the local papers. I know about his two room office with a grand total of two phone lines. I know that nobody ever seems to receive an actual call from ARG. I know about Bennett's releasing cooked polling data while failing to reveal that he had been paid by a particular cmpaign to come up with a pre-ordained result.

ARG is a joke, and the national media are fools for giving him any credibility.

I don't know who this commenter is, but he claims to have the inside skinny on ARG:
I'm chiming in on ARG because they are literally down the street from me. I know that they play some ethically shady games here at home, so I have to presume that they do the same thing in Iowa. I also leave open the possibility that ARG doesn't actually poll anyone at all.
When the Quinnipiac University poll revealed that Connecticut Senator Lieberman had a "healthy double digit lead" the ARG declared the race a dead heat and that Lamont was ahead -- a claim reported as serious news by Blitzer. And Bloomberg.

Yet Lieberman won over Lamont handily -- with a healthy double digit lead Quinnipiac poll had reflected.

How many times is a pollster allowed to be wrong before he loses credibility?

Interestingly, from what I can see, ARG gets more criticism from the left than from the right.

I'd never heard of this outfit before, and had it not been for the Inquirer piece, my curiosity would never have been aroused.

But isn't there something odd about polls being cited uncritically when a pollster has a well-established track record of being wrong?

MORE: Don't miss A Jacksonian's post, or the comments like this one:

Thanks so much for this post. I actually came across your blog trying to get information on American Research Group myself. I follow Real Clear Politics, which captures all the various polling and noticed that ARG always has poll results way off the mark compared to other polls conducted at the same time. Something is definitely fishy. I would love to see the MSM break this story...my suspicions indicate some relation to the Clinton camp.
If that's the case, I wouldn't expect the story to be broken by the MSM....

UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link, and welcome all!

I also agree with Glenn that it would be fun to see Cheney preside over his own impeachment, but I doubt it will ever happen.

posted by Eric on 12.31.07 at 11:54 AM










Comments

Wolf, wolf, wolf. What are these fools going to do when faced with real tyrants?

Vote for them! They're called Progressives.

Brett   ·  December 31, 2007 4:43 PM

I was quite shocked to see the documents that came up on my search. How many folks check out obscure court documents when doing a search on a polling firm? Something just didn't smell right... I do my best not to make personal attacks of any sort, but I do call into question the man's ethics. If he is willing to steal from his father's estate while his mother is mentally incompetent and then try to hide that from his sisters: I have a problem with that.

Others can decide for themselves if they trust a polling group of such a small size with such an individual in charge of it. And as they do more than political polling, I would not trust them on *anything*. I didn't even bother to look to what others said... I was so disgusted by the point I started putting the article together that I didn't *want to*.

ajacksonian   ·  December 31, 2007 7:16 PM

Here's a fairly recent Townhall poll that showed 39% of Americans want Cheney and Bush impeached:

http://tinyurl.com/233nl9

Hmmm.

alphie   ·  January 1, 2008 4:03 AM

I question that 70% of voters could name the vice-president.

RPD   ·  January 1, 2008 4:11 PM

Thanks for the info. I grew up in Manchester, still live one town away, and likely have some info on Dick Bennett from my social network. I recall knowing a Dick Bennett in Manchester years ago, but doubt it's the same one.

I never knew ARG was suspect. Pollster.com lists it among the ones it uses, and I doubt that site is trying to unfairly slant the polling in any direction. I will drop them this info.

If you go to their offices, BTW, there is a Hungarian restaurant across the street that I recommend.

Assistant Village Idiot   ·  January 1, 2008 10:02 PM

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