Hickenlooper Campaign Succeeds in Snow Job on Rocky with Snow Removal Poll

As Dan Chacon of the Rocky Mountain News reports this morning, Mayor John Hickenlooper’s campaign released part of the results from a poll conducted by consulting firm The Kenney Group, which is managing Hickenlooper’s campaign (Hickenlooper’s campaign manager is Lynea Hansen, who works for the Kenney Group).

Get the real details after the jump…While the overall results of the poll appear to be good news for Hickenlooper (84% approval rating, 68% say things in Denver are headed in the right direction, 62% rate Denver’s economy as fairly strong), results on the issue of snow removal were less positive.  Unfortunately, Chacon fell for the campaign’s rosy spin on a question about snow removal.

Chacon reports as follows on the issue of snow removal:

“The pundits and the political observers were a bit out of touch on the snowstorm,” said David Kenney, the firm’s president.

“They missed it, and the most important question (in the poll) on the snow storm was how uptight people were personally, and most people weren’t,” he said.  “The public sentiment about the storm didn’t match the overheated political rhetoric about it.”

The survey found that 66 percent of voters rated Denver’s performance managing snow removal as excellent, good or fair. 

Despite the favorable rating, Hickenlooper wasn’t satisfied.

Just to be clear, that’s who 66% said “excellent, good or fair,” (my emphasis) which Chacon calls a favorable rating. The standard practice in polling, however, is to consider “fair” a negative response.

Further, in the initial report on the poll filed yesterday, Chacon notes that 34% of residents rate the city’s performance as poor.  When voters face the four options of excellent, good, fair, or poor, standard practice in polling is to combine excellent and good together as a positive response and fair or poor together as a negative response, otherwise the response options are unbalanced and push respondents toward a positive reponse.

Why would Chacon and the Rocky report that 34% rate the city’s snow removal job at poor in a short story on March 15, but then cut the one piece of negative information from the longer story that they play up today? And why even run a second story on the issue?

As for the Hickenlooper Campaign, with the rest of the results they released coming up positive, why try to fake a positive result on the snow removal question.  Yesterday’s version of the story also reported that 51% of city voters think Denver provides very good or fairly good snow removal services.  That is a relatively positive number.  Of course, it doesn’t sound as good as 66%, but at least it’s honest.

With an 84% approval rating, Hickenlooper’s team doesn’t help their candidate by fudging a number that doesn’t really appear to be hurting him anyway.

And the Rocky doesn’t do anyone any good by only reporting positive information about the mayor.

Note: Mark Mehringer is President of Research for Change, Inc., which is also performs public opinion research for Democratic campaigns and thus is a competitor of The Kenney Group.

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Mark Mehringer

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