Harry Truman famously quipped:
"I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell."
These words are useful when observing conservative Democrat Marty Chavez, who is running against bold progressive Eric Griego in the NM-1 congressional primary. Chavez freaked out this past week when the Progressive Change Campaign Committee ran a broad 35-question public opinion poll of 513 likely primary voters in this district. Evidently, 2 questions about Chavez's public ethics scandals hit a nerve.
Doing opinion polling in this race is important for the PCCC because we need to constantly think about how to best engage our 10,000+ New Mexico members. This is also a nationally-watched fight between a bold progressive candidate (who we endorsed) and a conservative, establishment Democrat.
We tested messages for our own internal purposes -- no campaign knew about the poll in advance and the results will not be shared with any campaign.
Our 35-question poll included many non-electoral topics such as the war in Afghanistan, immigration reform, taxing millionaires, and protecting Social Security and Medicare.
It also included testing a likely line of attack by Chavez against our endorsed candidate -- that he is too progressive -- a case Chavez made against other candidates in his failed run for U.S. Senate.
We also asked 2 questions about Chavez's public ethics scandals that have been prominently reported on by news outlets. Namely, Chavez facing a federal investigation for bribery as Albuquerque Mayor and Chavez being reprimanded by the Board of Ethics for using his political PAC for personal gain.
We didn't give Marty Chavez Hell. We asked 513 of his potential constituents 35 poll questions, including 2 about his public ethics scandals, and he thought it was Hell.
Chavez went on a rant about our poll this Saturday at the Ward 11A Democrats meeting in Albuquerque. Also this weekend, the Chavez campaign circulated a hastily-written letter signed by about a dozen Democratic activists, most of whom previously endorsed Chavez. They "condemn this push poll" and urge others to as well.
We showed our poll to John Della Volpe, Director of Polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics. Here's what he said about it:
I've seen thousands of polls and the poll that PCCC shared with me is a standard benchmark survey that nearly every campaign for Congress in America conducts on a regular basis.
This appears to be a strategic research exercise designed to understand the pros and cons of the Democratic candidates in the primary. The 10-minute survey with a sample size of n=513 is standard for this type of project. "Push polls" are a campaign tactic where thousands of calls are made to spread misinformation under the guise of a scientific survey. This is not one.
The Chavez campaign letter also bizarrely accuses our poll of containing "false and misleading attacks on fellow Democrats." This raises two points that we take seriously.
The first is accuracy. It would be surprising if Marty Chavez denied that he faced a federal investigation for bribery charges and got reprimanded from the Board of Ethics for self-dealing. But here's a potential olive branch: If Marty Chavez would like to give us polling language that he thinks fairly tests public opinion of his ethics scandals, we would be happy to consider them for a future opinion poll.
The second issue Marty Chavez raises is his expectation that progressives should help cover up his pattern of public ethics scandals because we are "fellow Democrats." Sorry, Marty, but we don't agree that any duty to stifle discussion of your public ethics scandals exists.
If you agree, please join us on this statement:
"Marty Chavez is wrong to imply that progressives should cover up his record of public ethics scandals simply because he is a 'fellow Democrat.' When a politician abuses the public trust, that betrayal of trust is fair game for discussion when that politicians seeks public office again." Sign here.
Thanks for reading.