Sunday, February 9, 2014


The state’s two largest papers, the Courier-Journal and the Herald-Leader, bitter rivals when I first came to Kentucky 39 years ago (when the C-J deigned to admit there was a paper in Lexington) have combined their resources in a “new, improved” statewide polling effort.

And they have been joined by  TV stations in each city...WHAS in Louisville (a former member of the Bingham empire which once also owned the C-J) and WKYT in Lexington.  Both stations were once far and away the  number one stations in each city, but no more. WHAS has fallen to 3rd and WKYT is number two, but snapping at WLEX’s heels.

When these four announced recently a co-operative venture to share the costs and results of what once was the C-J’s own Bluegrass poll I was afraid it was but an intent to cut costs of that poll. Officials at both papers pointed out this was not the case, that the poll was being increased in number from two to six during the main political season and would seek wider response to issues.

The first several reports in poll number one are out..and with an exception I will note...have borne out the hopes of the four partners for a better insight into the feelings of John Q. Public (or is it Bubba and Mabel?)

Early reports, with about a 3% margin of error—which is good, have given us a  new understanding of how respondents view several candidates in the  critical U-S Senate race, our governor, and issues such as smoking, taxes, same sex marriage, etc. Good.

But the same old flaws of polling are still there, just more widely available. One is that so many of my journalistic colleagues put entirely too much faith in polls at all. But then, in a note of sanity, C-J political columnist Joe Gerth  took the wind out of the first poll’s major result...that Democratic newcomer Alison Lundergan Grimes narrowly led veteran Republican Mitch McConnell...(though within the margin of error, a point not sufficiently stressed.)  Gerth points out that poll shows 47% feel they don’t even know who Grimes is!

So if almost half don’t know the candidate, just how much faith can we place in polls that she leads by 3 points or 30????

We can’t.

This poll is just too dad-blamed early. People haven’t made up their minds. The candidate hasn’t been “defined” as the strategists say. The pollsters can claim all they like that an early poll is necessary to establish a “baseline” for later,  closer-to-the-election polls, but I just don’t buy it.

Nevertheless, I am happy to see this  combination of the state’s major media members, and look forward to other endeavors, especially more investigative reports into Kentucky’s problems...more and more widely disseminated.

Good Hunting!

I'm just sayin'...

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