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May 28, 2015

Back when Eduard A. Shevardnadze was running for re-election as President of Georgia, the story goes, an aide came to see him to report on the election returns: “Mr. President, I have good news and bad news. The good news is, you won in a landslide. The bad news is, no one voted for you.”

I’ve found that aide. He’s conducting polls for the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance.

I discovered this while scrolling my way through today's MassterList and spotting this advertisement:

Wow I thought; important if true: 13,663 registered voters in all forty state senate districts is an extraordinary number. Polls are expensive. So I clicked on the ad hoping to find the poll questions, toplines, cross tabs, demographics, and methodology. Here is the original poll and here is the round two with the eleven state senate districts omitted in the original poll.

Results omitted (go to the links for that) here is the entirety of what MassFiscal revealed about its poll:

That’s it? One question? No screening even for have you ever heard of the proposal, or know what’s in it? No demographics except for gender, senate district, and party identification? Given Governor Baker’s popularity, which has been confirmed in real polls, simply attaching the governor’s name would inflate the numbers as would identifying the proposal as reform. And by the way, how did MassFiscal define “high-propensity voters”?

If you are looking for anything more on methodology, you are out of luck. MassFiscal’s press release merely indicates that it commissioned the poll; no word on which pollster did it, or how it was conducted.

This is an advocacy group using the cachet of a “poll” in order to get citizens to pressure state senators in favor of Baker’s proposal. It’s a fraud on voters, pure and simple.

If the name Mass Fiscal Alliance rings a bell to our readers it may be because in 2014 my colleague Professor Ubertaccio flagged the group for “Misleading voters by using inflammatory and false language” in a mailer targeting Democratic state representatives. Its “poll” can be taken in the same vein. Going back to Aristotle one of the main sources of the credibility of an argument was the reputation of the speaker. That seems an outdated requirement when groups like Mass Fiscal (funders unknown) can simply produce deceptive material and then purchase advertising for it.

Here’s a triumphant note from Mass Fiscal’s press release: “’It’s clear that voters overwhelmingly support the Governor’s plan to fix the MBTA. Our poll showed statewide support at 84%. I don’t think even chocolate ice cream polls that high,’ said Paul Craney, executive director of Mass Fiscal Alliance.” (bold in original)

I don’t think chocolate ice cream polls that high either. But Shevardnadze did.

MBTA, Charlie Baker, Mass Fiscal Alliance

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