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Even before last night, the whole world knew how awful Eric Cantor was—not the least of which were the voters in his district—and now, thanks to his crushing defeat, the spotlight is shining on his pollster, McLaughlin & Associates, who as David Nir has documented, is a truly abysmal polling operation.
According to McLaughlin's polling for Cantor, the congressman was on his way to a primary rout over David Brat, leading by 34 points. But two weeks after that poll was conducted, Cantor lost by 11. And now McLaughlin is trying to unskew his own data.
In an email to National Journal, McLaughlin, whose firm has been paid nearly $75,000 by Cantor's campaign since 2013, offered several explanations: unexpectedly high turnout, last-minute Democratic meddling, and stinging late attacks on amnesty and immigration. [...] McLaughlin cited the "Cooter" factor – the fact that former Rep. Ben Jones, a Georgia Democrat who played Cooter in The Dukes of Hazzard, had written an open letter urging Democrats to vote for Brat to help beat Cantor.
Cooter beat Cantor? C'mon. Cantor lost because his support fell, not because a wave of Democratic opposition surged. In fact, voters in Democratic areas were less likely to vote than in GOP areas.
But as absurd as that is, the other two explanations are even more hilarious: The entire point of having pollsters is to effectively model the electorate. For a pollster to say they were only wrong because of "unexpectedly high turnout" is like a weather forecaster saying that they only thing they got wrong was the weather.
And as for saying the late attacks did Cantor in, while it would not be uncommon for a big shift in vote preferences to occur late in a primary, any pollster worth his or her salt would have seen the potential vulnerability. Instead, McLaughlin took a poll two weeks before the primary and using a bad turnout model decided Cantor was so far ahead that the race was over. Wrong. Hilariously wrong.
Originally posted to Daily Kos on Wed Jun 11, 2014 at 08:45 AM PDT.