The task for the Lynne Dixon for County Executive team is a Herculean one — take a little-known, unremarkable county legislator and make her seem competitive against a perfectly reasonable two-term County Executive. After the utter fiasco of the Giambra financial meltdown, and the subsequent chaos and malice from the imperial Collins squad, Poloncarz’s calm competence is a welcome change for Erie County residents. A great deal of the dysfunction that plagued County Government during the preceding decade has been remedied and turned around.
We still have a control board. If it thought something wasn’t right, it would let us know.
So, Dixon — a person a few people may remember from TV, and who has been a quiet presence on the legislature — has a tough race. But she has retained a lot of the Collins overflow crew to help her create an aura of competitiveness that doesn’t exist in real life.
How? Easy. Use the Buffalo News’ sleepiest political columnist, Bob McCarthy, to manufacture an artificial competitive race.
The opening salvo was evident in this article McCarthy wrote, and the Buffalo News published, which turned out to be packed with lies. Based completely on hearsay — with no evidence that any proof was requested or produced - McCarthy transcribed the Dixon team’s utter BS and puffery to create a media narrative that Dixon’s “message” of ‘Mark bad’ is “resonating” with “West Seneca moms” because she raised over $200,000 since March. It was all garbage. She had raised less than $200,000 since January, and a lot of her money was from mega-donors or other campaign committees. The Buffalo News has not issued any sort of correction regarding McCarthy’s glaringly wrong reporting. The public deserves one.
McCarthy cares about one type of political reporting: horserace. McCarthy wrote it, the News published it, and Dixon got it out there in the press that she’s a player this cycle. You’d think that McCarthy would be pissed about Dixon’s team using him to push blatant falsehoods.
You’d be wrong.
This week’s Republican manipulation of McCarthy’s byline has to do with a poll that allegedly shows Dixon in a “statistical dead heat” with Poloncarz. The News did not publish the actual poll, or its raw data. The poll was based on a relatively small sample, and because it was a robocall could only be sent to landlines. The headline tells the whole tale — “Dixon does her own poll, and says it shows a tight race”. Hearsay. Dixon says.
Incidentally, in 2018 I received almost weekly robocall polls using an ominous-sounding recorded voice to push-poll how Nate McMurray was the Irish-American equivalent of ISIS and Fidel Castro, combined. Never was the source of those calls revealed, and never were the results published. Based on the word on the street, the poll on which Dixon is relying seems extremely similar. Multiple people with whom I’ve spoken who received the call describe an ominous-sounding male recorded voice asking the series of questions, and the person answering the call is supposed to press a button on the phone to answer. It goes like this: ‘Nate McMurray is a philanderer who shoots puppies and eats kittens. Knowing that information, would you be more or less likely to vote for Nate McMurray or Chris Collins or don’t know. Press 1 for Nate McMurray…’ Here’s what it sounds like:
When McCarthy’s story about this internal polling hit, he quoted the pollster and named the outfit that supposedly did the work. I Googled them both. There was no hit for a polling firm called “Co/Efficient” out of Kansas City. Then I Googled “Ryan Munce”, the putative owner of “Co/Efficient”. Apparently there’s a hockey player who goes by that name, so I added, “poll”, and only a few hits came up, none of them referencing “Co/Efficient.” Munce worked for an outfit called “My College Options” until September 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was quoted in 2016 after having supposedly run a poll finding that 17 year olds preferred Trump over Clinton.
This is a garbage poll by a garbage pollster that was designed solely for purposes of propaganda.
As with McCarthy’s unvetted, single-source hearsay story about fundraising, the absence of the poll from the News’ report is glaring. The law requires that the Dixon campaign file the complete poll data with the Board of Elections, but by the time anyone sees it, it will be too late. The “Dixon in a dead heat with Poloncarz” and “momentum” memes have been artificially set through the manipulation of Bob McCarthy and the Buffalo News. Dixon told McCarthy that the poll somehow magically validates “what [she’s] hearing on the campaign trail” — the one where she skips the Pride Parade and the Juneteenth Parade and anywhere else not popular with the hundreds of thousands of WNYers who don’t tune in to hear what Sandy Beach thinks about a thing. “My anecdotes jibe with my propaganda” is hardly persuasive.
As for the poll itself, it under-samples likely voters under 44 years of age at only 8%. The actual number is expected to be closer than 25%. The over-65 vote will be about 38% of the electorate, and the poll over-samples them at 55%. This poll under-samples Democratic voters at 46% when they are expected to be 51% of the electorate. The Buffalo News barely reported this by quoting a Poloncarz campaign spokesman, rather than doing its own vetting of the data.
I found Co/Efficient, by the way. It has one employee — Ryan Munce. It’s not listed at FiveThirtyEight. It’s not listed at RealClearPolitics. I saw the alleged questions the poll asked. One was “do you support or oppose Mark Poloncarz’s plan to charge 5 cents for the use of plastic bags?” This is not an accurate reflection of what is being proposed.
Omitted from the poll’s report is the question about whether a person would vote for a County Executive who hired a commissioner who raped an employee. Omitted from the poll’s report is the question alluding to Poloncarz not investing in roads. Why would Co/Efficient ask those questions and then not report the results in its report? Why would Co/Efficient ask those questions and not disclose that it had done so?
One word: fraud.
This is a fraud being perpetrated on the electorate by a desperate and dishonest campaign. Meanwhile, Dixon feigns concern from a hastily-organized Twitter video of her wondering from Chris Grant’s office why oh why won’t Poloncarz weigh in on the Green Light Bill. Well, one reason is that he has nothing to do with its passage or implementation. While Mickey Kearns is busy being the Antoine Thompson of Kim Davises, I get why Dixon needs to play to her base but it all comes across as pathetic.
Dirty tricks in politics is nothing new and unsurprising. What is troubling and surprising is that the Buffalo News lets its career political reporter transcribe what partisans tell him, and then the result becomes this:
We are only down two points against an eight-year incumbent! There is no doubt that my message of finally putting taxpayers first is resonating with voters. We have a long way to go but I look forward to spreading my message and discussing the issues that matter most to voters. pic.twitter.com/e2eFHckRZf— Lynne Dixon (@votelynne) June 18, 2019
Is the Buffalo News really going to allow itself to be used like this? Is it really satisfied being a propaganda outlet for whatever Chris Grant calls Bob McCarthy about?