Public Policy Polling published some discouraging news for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week, noting that the Republican's approval rating has dropped to just 37%, making him the least popular senator in the nation.The news wasn't all bad -- the same poll showed McConnell narrowly leading his most likely Democratic challengers -- but it had to be upsetting for the Senate's top Republican to see a poll like this one at a sensitive time in Washington, less than two years before his re-election bid.McConnell's campaign manager, former Ron Paul aide Jesse Benton, has an explanation for the disappointing numbers: Public Policy Polling is deliberately manufacturing bogus data, as part of a larger Democratic conspiracy. Joe Sonka published a message Benton wrote yesterday:On the first day of Republican Campaign Manager School, they teach us to ignore PPP polls. You see, PPP is a partisan Democrat polling firm, and they make their living giving the Democrat Party numbers they want to see.Benton added, "Cooked polls are certainly only the start of the liberals' plans."
Benton must really be sweating. He is way over the top with the attack on PPP. I find PPP to be one of the most accurate polling firms in the nation.
As I reported at the time, Public Policy Polling was more than a week ahead of other pollsters in detecting Scott Brown's lead in the race, when he ran for the U.S. Senate in a special election against Martha Coakley.
This November, I wrote about PPP success in forecasting winners in the presidential election:
PPP reported the correct winner in all 9 battlegrounds and in the 3 other states (Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania) that the Romney campaign feinted toward.
A Fordham University report released Wednesday ranked the firm first among 28 organizations for the accuracy of its final, national preelection estimates.Benen reports that:
Joe Sonka reached out to PPP's Tom Jensen for a reaction to Team McConnell's paranoia. The pollster said:
I think one of the biggest lessons of the 2012 campaign was that when Republicans are attacking polls it's a sure sign that they're losing. GOP campaigns all over the country made these kinds of claims about us this year and we ended up calling every state in the Presidential race and Senate race we polled correctly. Nate Silver found that to the extent there was any bias in our polling, it was actually pro-Republican.
Jesse Benton himself knows well that the last time we produced a surprising poll in Kentucky it was right on the mark -- and that time it was to his benefit. In December 2009 we came out and said Rand Paul had a 19 point lead over Trey Grayson in the primary. That was an unexpected result at that point in the campaign and Grayson/McConnell's people attacked the heck out of us for several days just as they're doing now. I think that finding held up pretty well.
No Jesse, there is no "PPP Conspiracy," the conspiracy is in what you did to get to be McConnell's campaign manager.