Odds and ends number 42

As you likely know, this is the post where I pick out a few items worth a paragraph or three but not a full post. So here goes.

Polling is in the news these days – sometimes as a real reflection of the political scene, and sometimes just to make news and push a particular agenda. There are two recent polls which I believe reflect the latter.

I’m usually not too trusting of polls in which I can’t find a political or geographical breakdown, and a recent Washington Post poll fits this bill. Taken simply as a sample of 1,064 adults in Maryland, the Post poll gives Martin O’Malley a 55% approval vs. 36% disapproval – compare that to the 53-40 split in the recent Gonzales Poll, which I can easily ascertain subgroups and methodology in. Other disagreements: a 50-44 split in favor of gay marriage on the Post poll vs. a 49-47 split in favor on Gonzales and the “key issue” question: the economy was the top choice of 49% in Gonzales but only 32% on the Post poll.

Without seeing the methodology besides the sample size, my guess is that the local Washington D.C. area was oversampled by the Post. Obviously the economy is better there than in some other portions of the state, and since the area is more liberal than the rest of the state (hard to believe, but true) the other numbers seem to point in that direction as well.

And in another poll covering part of the same region, Sixth District Congressional candidate David Brinkley’s campaign released their opinion that incumbent Roscoe Bartlett has a Mitt Romney problem of sorts: his numbers can’t get over 43 percent in the polls. But the news comes with unanswered questions that gave me pause. (And as I have said in the past, I have no dog in the fight.)

First, the Brinkley campaign cites an opposition poll:

Garagiola’s poll, commissioned by Democratic House Majority PAC, found that the incumbent received just 39% approval rating, with…only 37% of voters believing Bartlett deserves another term. Just as concerning, 60% would prefer someone different.

Approval rating doesn’t always translate into votes; moreover, we don’t know if Brinkley would have a higher approval rating because nothing is mentioned about him. This is likely because both he and Bartlett are somewhat unknown quantities in much of the Sixth District – particularly Brinkley, who actually lives within the newly-redrawn Eighth District (but in an area formerly in the Sixth.) Nor do we know what the approval rating was for Rob “Gas Tax” Garagiola, perhaps he’s only in the 20s or 30s because he’s not as well known outside Montgomery County. (Just let me and a few of my blogging friends have at it – we’ll make sure he’s known for what he does best.) Long story short – these numbers are irrelevant at this point, with the trick being to define the opponent before he defines you.

The same goes for this line:

The Congressman’s poll showed a majority of Republican primary voters were supporting someone else.

Well, considering Roscoe is in an eight-person primary with a lot of new territory, that’s not a complete surprise. The obvious question is whether he’s leading the pack or not. With that much of a field, 40 percent should win – maybe even 25-30 percent. It won’t be a majority but it will be effective.

Finally, Brinkley’s campaign makes a argument which could be effective but may be counterintuitive:

“We didn’t need polls to tell us what we have been hearing from constituents for months,” offered Senator Chris Shank, Brinkley’s Washington County Chair. “This is why so many elected officials are supporting Brinkley.”

Historical results indicate that a Republican can win, but both polls suggest that the incumbent cannot. If the GOP believes it can capture the White House because President Obama is polling in the high 40s, they can’t say they will keep this seat with Bartlett polling in the low 40s. “You can’t have it both ways,” Shank said of the inconsistency.

That’s sort of true, but there’s a little bit of an apples vs. oranges comparison there. We obviously know Obama will be the Democratic standardbearer for the White House, but don’t know how the Sixth District primary will shake out. If we had a direct comparison (i.e. Bartlett vs. Garagiola) that may be more illustrative of the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses.

Speaking of picking winners and losers, I was glad Congressman Andy Harris mentioned this little tidbit about the failed Ener1 the other day. Nice to see another $118 million down the rathole:

“In May I held a subcommittee hearing questioning the lack of transparency regarding how Stimulus funds are distributed,” said Rep. Andy Harris. “Now we have yet another company that received hard-working taxpayers’ dollars that declared bankruptcy after wasting $118 million. Ener1 is just the latest in a growing and disturbing trend of Obama Administration decisions that have wasted hundreds of millions of hard-working taxpayers’ dollars to benefit politically connected Obama donors. Picking winners and losers based on crony capitalism is wrong and must come to an end.”

It’s obvious to me that President Obama is a roulette player – but not a very good one. After all, he keeps putting big money on green and we see how often the wheel settles there. Ener1 joins Solyndra and Beacon Power as expensive losers. More troubling, of course, is that some private Solyndra investors are repaid first from whatever proceeds the company recoups.

Finally, tomorrow could be the beginning of the end of a curious election law which set Baltimore County Republicans apart from the rest of the state.

SB85 and HB90 would repeal a law which provides the Chair of the Baltimore County Republican Party is elected by a vote of the people. It’s the only instance in either party where this is so; Baltimore County Democrats and both parties in the remaining 23 municipalities elect their respective Chairs internally – this is how we in Wicomico County elected Dave Parker as our Chair.

Delegate Susan Aumann, who’s lead sponsor of the House bill, noted that:

“Deliberative bodies comprised of elected representatives and political parties throughout Maryland, and even throughout our nation, have the right of selecting their own speaker. What I want for the people of our county is parity with these other democracies.  This legislation also makes sense because it empowers the committee members to select a leader they trust and respect and in return makes the Chairman accountable to his or her committee.”

Since the last elected Chair of that county’s Central Committee resigned only months into his term, I think this is a good idea. I would love to know that the rationale was behind making the move in the first place because the rest of us have a pretty good system whether the individual members are elected by subdistricts as a few counties do or at-large like Wicomico County and other smaller counties. They, in turn, elect a chair and other officers.

As I did last time, I want to also review the new blogs on my bloglist, and point out I revamped the categories slightly. Blogs which provide new content daily go in the “Daily News and Commentary” category while those which don’t fit as local, Delaware, or Maryland sites go in “Other Great Blogs.”

For Maryland blogs, I’ve added The Quinton Report, which is Jeff Quinton’s other project besides Inside Charm City.

Out among the rest of the country, Datechguy’s Blog is a Massachusetts-based site which covers national issues. The operator is a radio talk show host and blogger who I’ve come to know through some of my other new connections.

And while it’s not a blog per se, I thought it prudent to give a shout out to my friends up the Shore and link to the Cecil County Patriots site. I may have a need for them soon since I’d like to use some of their video from a recent event if they make it available.

And seeing Da Tech Guy on my screen makes me think about doing a new poll, which will be up shortly. Check for it.