Lies, Damn Lies, and Sekula-Gibbs

gibbsnose2.JPGHere’s a fictitious survey question for you:

If Thomas Jefferson Were On The Ballot, For Whom Would You Vote?

a) Jefferson
b) Pelosi
c) Other/undec

One would guess that Jefferson would win such a poll question, but what difference would it make? Even most nitwits would realize that Jefferson isn’t on the ballot.

Apparently, the Hyphen Lady is touting such a poll to indicate that her write-in campaign will beat Nick Lampson in Texas CD-22. From Chris Elam’s blog:

I’m sure that this is true. IF Sekula-Gibbs were on the ballot in a head-to-head matchup against Slick Nick, she would get the majority of the vote in this heavily GOP district – I have absolutely no doubt about that. Unfortunately for the GOP, she’s not. Lampson was smart enough to stay out of the special, so there isn’t even that faint glimmer of hope to look forward to.

I’m all for touting great poll numbers, and I’ve got no reason to suspect that those results are anything but accurate. But the question is a “what if”, that we could have avoided a long time ago if Tom DeLay had simply decided not to run for re-election in the primary. In the meanwhile, the rest of us do what we can to keep the seat red.

Let’s rephrase our fictitious little question a bit:

If John Kerry Were On The Ballot, For Whom Would You Vote?

a) Badnarik (or Nader or Cobb, take your pick)
b) Kerry
c) Other/undec

What if Kerry had won this poll and stated he was going to win the 2004 election based on these data? We’d be laughing at him because Bush’s name was excluded from the survey. It would be laughable, except for the fact that Hyphen Lady did the exact same thing when she excluded Libertarian Bob Smither (who is actually on the ballot, receiving local and national media and endorsements, etc.) from the poll. Here’s what Elam reports about the polling question under question:

A Baselice & Associates (R) poll; conducted 8/23-24 for Houston City Councilmember Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R); surveyed 401 RVs; margin of error +/- 4.9% (release, 9/11). Tested: Ex-Rep. Nick Lampson (D) and Sekula-Gibbs.

If Sekula-Gibbs Were On The Ballot, For Whom Would You Vote?

Sekula-Gibbs – 46%
Lampson – 35%
Other/undec – 19%

Hyphen Lady (as well as Texas GOP Chair Tina Benkiser) is touting a poll which implies she is on the ballot, one which also excludes one of the major candidates in the race. That’s like some nerdy high school girl bragging that she’s going to be prom queen when she doesn’t even have a date or proper clothing to wear to the event.

Democrat Nick Lampson is calling this a push poll, a process which he defines as such:

A push poll is a telephone interview, which tries to disguise itself as a poll, but is really just an effort to push negative and often untrue information about an opponent to households within the district. Our opponent’s poll was filled with inaccuracies and outright lies about Nick Lampson’s record.

I’ll provide that the question may be a proper one, as it does give the Hyphen Lady campaign some idea of her potential base. However, citing such a poll as evidence of leading in a political race is like calling George W. Bush a fiscal conservative — any casual observer can see the lie in the numbers. I don’t have the full survey information in front of me, but if they happened to have provided leading or distorted information ahead of the bogus preference question they asked, it could likely be an ethical violation:

While real pollsters do sometimes give interviewees new information about a candidate, the intent of this process is not to shift public opinion but to simulate potential campaign debate and to asses how the voter might respond. So-called “push-polls” are designed specifically to persuade.

I’m fairly used to the old arguments about excluding third party candidates from the polls, but these arguments don’t even carry a single drop of water in this case. Additionally, voter discontent with the Republican machine expands well beyond The Hammer of Ethics Tom DeLay‘s former district. It’s premature to tell how much Libertarians will gain from this, but Vermont’s primary elections on Tuesday provide an early indicator.

Vermont is a fusion state, and several Libertarian Party members ran in either the Republican or Democratic primaries for State Representative seats. Of the three Libertarian-Republicans who ran against more mainstream Republicans in the state, ALL THREE WON. In other words, when given a choice between a mainstream Republican and someone who advocates fiscal conservatism, the Libertarians won. To be sure, the situations aren’t totally analogous. However, when was the last time there was no Republican on the ballot in a 65 percent Republican congressional district? Especially one with a reasonable Libertarian alternative.

Voters are tired of the lies and deception from both major parties. They are also tired of tax-and-spend Republicans. The voters of Texas 22 have the opportunity to set an example for the rest of the country by voting for Bob Smither (on both ballots) in November.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. So…if it is an ethical violation what can be done about it?

    Does this require that a member of the association file a complaint, or can any voter (presumably from the district) file a grievence against the polling company?

  2. Hi Derrick,

    Please take a look at the events page on to see what we have been up to. So far this month we have spent two days at a local gun show, spoke at the opening of a local fire station, attended a Rotary Shrimpfest in Sugarland, and spoke at a professional group today at lunch. Coming up we will be speaking at a Common Ground meeting at the Univeristy of Houston tomorrow, doing some block walking on Sunday, and speaking at another Rotary luncheon. We have several events already scheduled for October.

    We had two interviews with local TV stations last week, and have done several e-mail and audio interviews.

    If you would like to be informed about our campaign, let us know using the Contacts link on our site. Of course, there is always the donate option at well:


  3. It was really cool what Bob said at that fire station. Well done, Bob!

    I think when it comes down to it though, the voters will be mislead through whatever means are necessary. If that fails, vote fraud. If the totals are outside of what would be too obviously fraudulent, then Bob is going to come down with a big and mysterious heart attack. Immediately followed by a special election or appointment.

  4. Maybe this is irrelevant but, Jefferson would lose most American elections today. He was a Diest who edited the Bible, and practically created the American version of socialism long before Marx. Think Bill of Rights, and Public schools. It is likely he would have considered business to be as powerful a threat to liberty as government, since power’s corrupting effects affect the powerful, whether in government or not. Still, I would have voted for him.

  5. I think it is noteworthy that even with the misleading question asked in Ms. Sekula-Gibbs’ poll, the other/undecided response was a very high 19%. If the question had been worded realistically as “Who will you vote for?” and included Bob Smither as a choice, I think his percentatge would have been much higher than 19%. I have contributed to Bob’s campaign and the LP Tracker lists him as the #1 candidate. I encourage all Libertarians to donate to his campaign.

  6. The poll should be:

    “Who would you vote for in the upcoming election?

    A. Lampson the Democrat candidate
    B. Smither the Libertarian candidate
    C. A write-in candidate”

    If anyone asks “what about a republican?” they should be told that there is no republican candidate because that’s the truth. =)

  7. There was also that STUPID Barbary pirates thing.

    What would the antiwar slogan have been for that one? “No blood for sail!” Wait, no, maybe “Hell no we won’t float!”?

  8. Joey Dauben, you mean a contender for the LP’s presidential or VP nomination? That’s hardly national prominence.

    If you mean an actual contender, why do bettors not think he is even a contender for TX-22? (See above, they give him a 3% chance of victory.)