Republican Congressional candidate Richard Tisei released polling results to the media this week that showed over incumbent Congressman John Tierney, D-Salem.
Tierney and Tisei, of Wakefield, are both seeking the Sixth Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives currently held by Tierney. The district includes Hamilton and Wenham, plus most of the North Shore.
The polling data in the latest poll, compiled by GOP pollster John McLaughlin, may not be accurate.
As it turns out, the poll dramatically over-represents Republicans. The same poll had Sen. Scott Brown with a 24-point lead over Elizabeth Warren (in most other polls statewide those two are in a statistical tie). Blue Mass Group took to Twitter with their suspicions.
Then McLaughlin himself reportedly admitted to the Salem News that his poll over-represents Republicans and under-represents Democrats and independents.
Tisei’s pollster admitted in an interview published today that Tisei’s poll over represents Republicans and under represents Democrats. The poll comes close to doubling the Republican representation in the district. In the poll's scenario, Republican turnout would have to be more than 150 percent.
“This is a very misleading trick by a very desperate campaign,” said Tierney Campaign Manager Matt Robison. “Maybe the Tisei campaign has been taking accounting lessons from their Wall Street friends at JP Morgan."
But the real lesson of this story is to always beware of internal polls (those produced by the campaigns), especially this early in the game when campaigns are trying to build momentum. The poll that showed Teirney with a 15-point lead over Tisei in January was done by a Democratic pollster. It was also taken when Bill Hudak was a candidate, splitting the Republican race.
A blogger named David at Blue Mass Group shares these words of wisdom cautioning the media to be wary of internal polling data:
"This Tisei poll is so embarrassing that his campaign should try to get its money back, but even in general, internals just not reliable enough to justify the pixels."
UPDATE: Tisei noted that the poll had an accurate sample of independents and often independents polled will self-identify as Republican, and he defended McLaughlin's strong reputation in the polling field. But Tisei also said he isn't getting bogged down in polling data anyway.
"As I go around the district, there are a great amount of people who want change," Tisei said. "I'm not going concentrate on polls, I can feel what's happening. We're very comfortable and confident in where we are right now."