Most probably remember the absurd ABC/Washington Post poll a few days before the 2020 elections showing Joe Biden winning Wisconsin by 17 points. A few days later, Biden was declared to have won the state, though by just over 20,000 votes total, or 0.63 percent.
This figure, of course, discounts lingering questions about Mark Zuckerberg’s Center for Technology and Civic Life’s work in retirement homes, among other irregularities. In other words, the ABC/Washington Post pollsters were either terrible at polling, which is quite possible. Or (and?) perhaps something else was at play: polls being used as more of a psyop intended to suppress Republican turnout.
Indeed, fake polls masquerading as reality are actually meant to project an illusion perceived as reality to influence and manipulate behavior.
Fast forward to 2022.
Lest you think the whole “polls as tools of manipulation” phenomenon is only the province of Democrats, I give you Remington Research Group, an outfit owned by the Axiom consulting firm which is owned by Jeff Roe, the favorite consultant of neocons and warmongers.
There is a dynamic taking place this spring in GOP primaries in which Remington shows Roe candidates winning when, in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Take for example the recent Ohio primary where Donald Trump endorsed J. D. Vance over Roe’s candidate, Josh Mandel. The day before Trump endorsed Vance, Remington, probably sensing the Trump endorsement coming against Roe’s candidate, released a memo and poll showing that the Trump endorsement would do nothing for Vance and he would still be in fourth place even after the endorsement.
The endorsement came the next day, however, and though independent polls showed Vance down by six points before the endorsement, roughly three weeks later, Vance would win by more than eight points. Remington’s “polls” were not a reflection of reality at all. What’s concerning is that some suspect Remington’s numbers (read Roe’s numbers) influenced donors and the Club for Growth to invest even more millions of dollars in Ohio when, in fact, the race was really over.
The same fake poll dynamic is happening in Arizona, Missouri, and other places where Jeff Roe has candidates: Remington puts out polls in an attempt to manipulate instead of reflect reality in hopes of getting more spending on behalf of a candidate or to get an endorsement, specifically Trump’s. Remington “polls” in both Missouri and Arizona naturally show Roe candidates in the lead.
Yet realistic polls demonstrate that other candidates are actually in the lead, sometimes by nearly double digits as is the case in Missouri. In May, Remington put out a poll showing Eric Schmitt, Roe’s candidate, at 29 percent, followed by Vicki Hartzler at 23 percent and Eric Greitens at 21 percent. Last week, an independent poll put out by KMOV-TV/SurveyUSA painted a wildly different picture: Greitens at 26 percent, Schmitt at 17 percent and Hartzler at 11 percent. This pattern of behavior has become so apparent that anyone pushing a Remington poll has to be either deeply ignorant or deeply dishonest. Or both. Indeed, I prefer to call them dishonest ignoramuses.
But there is also another dynamic taking place in the GOP primaries, designed to give yet another false impression. Take for example the case of Jim Lamon in the Arizona GOP Senate primary. In December 2021, Lamon received the American Conservative Union PAC endorsement, with a glowing statement from ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp about how Lamon is the right person for the job, etc.
But there’s more to it than meets the eye. In October 2021, according to Federal Elections Commission disclosures, the Lamon campaign paid a $20,000 communications consulting fee to Schlapp’s consulting firm, Cove Strategies. It was not the only payment; there are now monthly payments of $20,000 from Lamon to Cove Strategies.
Now far be it from me to suggest that the ACU endorsement came with a quid pro quo consulting fee directed to Schlapp, but it sure seems that way. As I like to say, if it quacks like a duck, looks like a duck, guess what: it’s probably a damn duck. So beware of fake polls and paid endorsements: they are not authentic nor do they reflect reality.