If you're a regular Daily Kos Elections reader, you probably know that Democratic ex-Rep. Ed Case is one of our favorite punching bags, whether it's his far-too-conservative record for his dark-blue former district (HI-02), his thoroughly unnecessary primary challenge of Sen. Dan Akaka, or his screwing up the jungle-style HI-01 special election, letting Republican Charles Djou end the Democrats' long streak of special election holds. The news today shows that we're not alone in feeling that way, and the animus is coming from a pretty surprising source: the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which usually maintains a public face of absolute hands-off neutrality in contested primaries.
The root of this is Case's release of an internal poll today, looking at how he fares against Democratic primary rival Rep. Mazie Hirono and possible Republican rival ex-Gov. Linda Lingle (who has been seemingly moving toward a campaign this week). The poll says:
He said they show his campaign ahead of Congresswoman Mazie Hirono in the primary, 53%-37%.
The poll also shows Case ahead of former Republican Governor Linda Lingle in the general 48% to 38%.
The poll also showed Lingle ahead of Hirono in the general by 48% to 43%.
There are a couple things potentially wrong with that. For one thing, the general election numbers completely contradict Public Policy Polling's look at the race from March, which showed Hirono and Case performing similarly against Lingle. PPP found results of Hirono 52, Lingle 40, and Case 52, Lingle 35. (The other public poll of the race, from Ward Research in May, found comparable numbers: Hirono 57, Lingle 35, and Case 54, Lingle 36.) And Case's internal pollster is none other than Merriman River Group, a pollster widely derided for its 2010 results (particularly its way-off polling of Connecticut), and in fact, according to our own Steve Singiser's research, the single most biased pollster operating in 2010.
Usually the story would stop there, but something strange happened today. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Guy Cecil issued a smackdown to Case.
DSCC executive director Guy Cecil accused Case of not “being honest” with the poll. “It exaggerates support for him and for Lingle,” Cecil said. “It also contradicts polling we have done in this race that shows Hirono leading Lingle by 19 points....”
The DSCC’s poll, conducted by the Mellman Group earlier this year, showed Hirono leading Lingle 54 percent to 35 percent. The DSCC wouldn’t say whether it polled Case as well.
The DSCC has not taken sides in the primary, nor should we expect them to, given their usual practices. However, any reprimand by them of a Democratic candidate, particularly one that flat-out alleges dishonesty, is pretty remarkable.
12:13 PM PT: Here's an interesting postscript: now Merriman's director is saying that "I actually advised him not to release the results." Of course, he's still defending the toplines and says that's because "they are so good, why do you want to change the dynamic of the race?" But it's an interesting bit of duck-and-cover from the pollster.