Thursday, July 1, 2010

Oops

This time the "oops, I did it again" award goes not to Britney Spears, but to Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos. And like Britney, the announcement of the big goof came from Kos himself, although not in the form of a song. More like "you're not gonna believe the really dumb thing I did."

Several of the online conservative newsletters caught this mea culpa at the Daily Kos. I must admit that there are several liberal websites that I visit on a nearly daily basis to see what they're up to. But the Daily Kos and the Huff Po are so lefty-loony and filled with obscenities that I find it hard to stomach them more than a couple of times a month. Thanks to the other bloggers, I was informed of this one at the Daily Kos.

In order to appear to be a legitimate political news and opinion site, the Daily Kos has included regular political polls. Moulitsas relied on Research 2000 for its polls. And here's the hot news from the Kos himself: "I have just published a report by three statistics wizards showing, quite convincingly, that the weekly Research 2000 State of the Nation poll we ran the past year and a half was likely bunk. While the investigation didn't look at all of Research 2000 polling conducted for us, fact is I no longer have any confidence in any of it, and neither should anyone else (emphasis in original)."

The Research 2000 polls consistently produced results which were favorable to Democrats. In fact, they were "best case of every conceivable best case" favorable to Democrats, particularly progressives. As the Kos put it: "There was reason to be skeptical, but it had nothing to do with ideology." If you rely on polls that always favor your candidates, heavily, I find it hard to believe that ideology had nothing to do with it, Mr. Moulitsas. But indeed that wasn't all of it.

Part of the problem was Kos's benign disregard for favorable results that were believable enough, or semi-believable, even though most other major and respected polls were coming up with different numbers. When a poll consistently disagrees with one conducted where the opposition is somewhat overrepresented, it's understandable that you might want to believe your pollsters. But when Democrat-leaning polls like Gallup consistently show results radically different from those of your pollster, it should be sending up an early warning flag that something might be wrong.

The first example of Kos's naive reliance on Research 2000 was when all the polls were showing that large numbers of Democrats were planning on voting for Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts for the Ted Kennedy Senate vacancy. But Kos's pollster showed that almost no Democrats were willing to vote for Brown. Even the most hostile of Democratic-leaning polls were showing a substantial number of Democrats straying to Brown's candidacy.

When Research 2000 got the Virginia gubernatorial election, the New Jersey gubernatorial election and the Brown election wildly wrong, only then did Kos decide that he might wish to re-evalute his use of that pollster. More recently, Research 2000 got the numbers very wrong in the Arkansas Democratic Senate primary. Once again, the poll heavily favored the most liberal/progressive candidate, which turned out to be very different from the ultimate first round result. Research 2000/Daily Kos had the numbers at 48% for the more liberal Halter, 46% for Blanche Lincoln and 3% for the conservative D. C. Morrison. In reality, Lincoln had 44.5%, Halter 42.5% and Morrison 13%. The final results were statistically insignificantly different from all the other major polls. Only Research 2000 got it this wrong, at least according to Moulitsas.

And where there's dissension, there's lawyers. Kos's disavowal of Research 2000 was so strong and so unequivocal that the legal vultures are already circling. Kos says he'll sue Research 2000 for failing to perform properly on his agreement with them, while Research 2000 is already making noises about a defamation suit. Kos seems to have forgotten that he's pretty much entitled to say anything he wants about politics and/or politicians in the public eye, but in this case he's directly and very publicly challenging the veracity and competence of a private company with which he was doing business, and alleging what amounts to fraud.

Interestingly, had Moulitsas made all the same allegations in a lawsuit before airing them on his website, he would very likely have been protected by the legal privilege accorded to formally filed lawsuits and the reporter's privilege of reporting on the progress of court cases. I can only say to Moulitsas that he had better turn out to be completely right in his accusations of gross incompetence or dishonesty on the part of Research 2000. Says the attorney for Research 2000 and its CEO, Del Ali: "This guy is completely all wet. The allegation of fraud is absurd. These guys are basically ruining Mr. Ali's business." The attorney also said that on top of everything else, Kos hasn't even paid "the $50, $60, $70,000 that he owes on his bill." Kos, of course, denied this at first, but now seems to be saying "they don't deserve to get paid."

Many of the writers who caught this flap early contend that there's a good chance that Kos knew very early on that the poll numbers were being purposely or negligently skewed. Once it became patently apparent to everyone, they say, that Research 2000 was wildly off-mark on nearly every race, Kos needed to distance himself from his own folly. If true, that late panic on his part may cost him dearly for going off on the pollsters publicly instead of filing a lawsuit first.

One thing more that bothers me about the whole thing. If Moulitsas actually succeeds in winning a fraud action against Research 2000, two questions arise in my mind. The first is why he would rely on the polling skills, data and expertise of a polling company that operates out of a Kinko's office. And as part of that question, has he never heard of the doctrine of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware)? The location and quality of Research 2000's offices might have been a first clue.

Second, if Research 2000 really is that much of a shoestring operation, how does Kos expect to collect the massive money damages he will undoubtedly be demanding in his lawsuit? All in all, it just seems to me that behind the vicious blogging and verbal obscenities of the Daily Kos, emperor Moulitsas may just have no clothes.

19 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

Bravo Hawk - this really is simply delicious and I join you in your utter delight in this post. I may just go out and howl at the moon tonight

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

This is way too funny!!

Scammed by one, and stiffed by the other.

It couldn't have happen to a nicer bunch of guys! :)

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: I'll never win the Christian of the Year Award. I'm just far too happy at the embarrassment and misery this is causing that twerp. "God grant me the temperament to feel bad for an SOB who's getting what he richly deserves" is never going to rank up there with the prayer of St. Francis.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Traditionally, I think we would just call this "a falling-out among thieves."

Joel Farnham said...

This ranks up there with Rathergate and Acorn shenanigans.

I wonder when the next shoe is going to drop.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: There seem to be a lot of shoes dropping lately. The left was so heady with victory that they didn't notice their support was a mile wide and an inch deep. The sun is drying that up very quickly.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--I knew the lawyers would get into this sooner or later. It looks like it took them all of about five minutes to think it over.

LawHawkRFD said...

HamiltonsGhost: I actually wrote a note to Andrew this morning about the "blood-sucking lawyers," but I thought I'd keep the tone a bit higher for the post. I was thinking of hiring an ambulance-chaser myself for the injuries I've suffered from falling down laughing at the Keystone Kops meets the circus high-wire act that Moulitsas is putting on.

CalFederalist said...

LawHawk. I know you read the New York Times for all your important news (LOL). Did you notice that at least two Times writers discussed the Daily Kos thing, and neither ever identified it as a left wing opinion blog?

LawHawkRFD said...

CalFed: It's typical of the Times. They can identify every conservative, racist, reactionary, right-wing, fascist site (like ours) very quickly and very pointedly. But the Daily Kos is just a "political blog" with no discernible affiliation. Hmph. It should also be noted that the Times has never commissioned Research 2000 for polling, but it has on occasion cited their findings without comment on their accuracy or political leanings. Birds of a feather, and all that.

BevfromNYC said...

So this is off topic, but wasn't ACORN theoretically supposed to be a non-partisan organization? They took money from the Federal Government, right?

StanH said...

This great stuff, the left getting in a circular firing squad. These petulant dweebs will eat their young as the House of Barry collapses. Their hooey only works in a vacuum, the slightest bit of scrutiny and their seemingly unified front evaporates like a stale fart in a brisk wind. There is beginning to be real derision in Muddville…what fun!

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: You bet. ACORN's job was supposed to be finding people who legitimately needed government assistance as well as "get out the vote" drives. Instead, they backed all kinds of illegitimate government spending, promoted far left wing causes, and attacked Republicans and conservatives at will.

The Daily Kos never billed itself as non-partisan, unlike ACORN, but promoted almost all of the same causes, and yet like ACORN, the MSM treats it as if it's just another mainstream source of information. The biggest difference is that ACORN took our money and spat on us for it, while Kos takes George Soros's money (along with cash from other leftist, statist billionaires), and spits on us. He's free to do so, but it doesn't mean we can't enjoy watching him get caught with his polling pants down.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: The left is finding itself in cannibal mode lately. They still haven't launched all-out attacks on their buddy Obama, but I think even that's coming. Imagine, large and somewhat influential groups, like the Daily Kos that actually think Obama is too conservative.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, A point of correction -- they didn't claim their office was in a Kinkos. They claimed their computers were down that day and they had to work out of a Kinkos. It was one of the excused they gave for not turning over their raw data.

Writer X said...

Moulitsas and Research 2000 in a mud-slinging cage match? Where do I sign up to watch?

BevfromNYC said...

LawHawk - The reason I asked the ACORN question is I was channel surfing and came across one of our Public Access stations. The guide said "State of the Union address". I switched thinking that it was a replay of Obama's address, but it turned out to be a day in the life of the Pennsylvania (maybe Philly) Obama campaign office and their push to register voters to vote for Obama. One of the interviewees was billed as an ACORN Field Coordinator and he said on camera "We need to make sure we register voters to vote for Obama"!! (well, not an exact quote, but close enough). Huhh...maybe I should get the tape and send it to Andrew Breitbart...

LawHawkRFD said...

WriterX: I'm not sure where you would watch it, but I'm pretty sure it won't be on MSNBC.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I knew you had a reason for asking that question, and that's a darned good reason. Mr. Breitbart might just be interested.

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