Steve Duin blasts Merkley

In Sunday's Oregonian, Steve Duin takes aim at Jeff Merkley's campaign, including a recent Merkley poll labelling Novick as a "pro-tax advocate":

Voters were asked, Silverman wrote on March 26, if they would be "more or less favorably inclined toward Novick" if told he wasn't a "serious candidate," that he was a "paid political consultant," or that he was a "divider." The pollsters also tested this campaign gambit:

"Novick is a pro-tax advocate, repeatedly supporting higher taxes for the middle classes, running on a proposal to raise Social Security taxes and falling for false Republican claims that if we don't do this, Social Security will go bankrupt."

Let's think about that for a moment. Novick and Merkley clearly disagree on two major tax proposals, neither of which would have much impact on the "middle class." Novick wants everyone to pay Social Security taxes on all income, not just the first $97,000, an idea that has also been floated by Barack Obama.

The cap on Social Security taxes is "the biggest tax break going for the wealthy," Novick said, and eliminating it would raise $120 billion a year.

Duin also notes Merkley's history of advocating for revenue increases:

What's curious about raising tax advocacy as an issue in the Democratic primary, however, is that Merkley is the lone candidate in the mix with the legislative record.

And when Jason Williams of the Taxpayer Association of Oregon was asked about the House Speaker, he said, "When we looked through all the taxes on our records, we couldn't find a tax Merkley didn't vote for. I think that says it all."

Merkley is a liberal Democrat. He voted for the proposed tax increases that became Measures 28 and 30. He's voted for most of the usual tax increases, and favors the repeal of the Bush tax cuts, because he, like Novick, understands the connection between taxes and services.

That the Speaker -- who did not return calls -- and his handlers now contemplate attacking Novick for a belief in the value of taxes that he shares is rank cynicism.

Read the rest here. Discuss.

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    Given the intense interest in this race, I want to follow Nick Wirth's lead from the "in the news" post on Novick and CIM/CAM and claim responsibility for posting this piece from Duin.

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    It's a pretty obvious criticism, and as he often is, Duin is right on the mark.

    If you want to be considered a progressive, then you should advocate progressive positions, and even if you don't, you shouldn't attack others for doing so.

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    Way to go Kar....oh. :)

    (Thanks Charlie! )

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Or, more to the point, you shouldn't consider attacking people.

  • JHL (unverified)
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    Merkley's campaign team is firing on all cylinders, and that's all right by me.

    I like Novick. I like Merkley. But any campaign that's not prepared to use every tool at their disposal is going to get creamed by Goron Smith in November... and there's no prize for second place.

    If Merkley actually comes out and blasts Novick for tax advocacy, I'll say he's a hypocrite. But it's his campaign team's <u>job</u> to find out where they stand and what their options are. Anything else is driving blind.

  • SDG (unverified)
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    There is a difference between attacking another Democrat and attacking a Republican. Especially if your line of attack is a deliberate misrepresentation, made in bad faith, using nasty, bogus GOP talking points. I will never vote for a Democrat who attacks a fellow Dem like that. Yes, this means you Merkley. Unforgivable. Don't bother with your lame "it's a campaign" excuse. You lost my vote. Badly done.

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    Duin: That the Speaker -- who did not return calls -- and his handlers now contemplate attacking Novick for a belief in the value of taxes that he shares is rank cynicism.

    Novick said that he'd rather vote for Gordon Smith than Bono because of the later's use of a tax shelter.

    Check.

    Gordon Smith voted to get us into Iraq and staunchly stood by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld year after year.

    Check.

    The total price tag for the Iraqi Occupation is estimated to be in the $TRILLIONS.

    Check.

    How many DAYS of the Iraqi Occupation would every dollar/euro/pound that Bono will earn in his entire lifetime pay for?

    And Duin thinks that Bono and Merkley are the two biggest hypocrits?

    Is he that disconnected from the real world where BILLIONS of dollars are being squandered on a monthly basis because of Gordon Smith's legislative votes?

  • Stephen Holland (unverified)
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    With the specific polling question, JHL, the Merkley campaign has essentially already come out and blasted him for his tax advocacy--this is a push poll at its finest: vague and clouded with "truthines."

    That said, I do like both Novick and Merkley too--between things like this and the presidential campaigns, though, I'm beginning to really lament the primary process all together.

  • Galen (unverified)
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    Kevin, I have a friend who is just dying to meet you. His name is hyperbole. You can even find out more about him here!

  • Anon (unverified)
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    Didn't Novick research Merkley's negatives? (And maybe even first?) Maybe I'm wrong on that.

    (one thing I'm pretty sure of...Novick hit first...and second...and third...until FINALLY the Merkley folks jabbed ever so slightly back. Now, the Novick folks will say that "Merkley finally started taking us seriously by necessity!" An at-least-equally-accurate frame would be "Novick finally succeeded in getting Merkley not just to be Novick's punching bag.")

    And then Novick goes out and offers his support for a third party candidate -- a scorched earth strategy that makes it clear he's less concerned with beating Gordon Smith and more concerned with his own vanity candidacy.

    I'm not pledged either way (I'm really not, and would rather Kari be neutral), and was feeling forgiving about Novick's Obama bash and his Hillary bash and his Nader vote...but the Frohnmayer plug makes me really worry if Steve thinks before he talks. I think we give Steve a free pass because we view him as smart and different.

    Steve and his peope have cited Paul Wellstone so many times you'd think he was John Krogspitzer. When asked similar questions, Paul Wellstone saying did NOT offer similar words of support about Nader in 2000, despite many noting that Nader and Wellstone shared more views than Clinton/Gore. But here's a big reminder that Novick is Wellstone a bit like Quayle was Kennedy.

    Wow. I guess without being ready to do so, I sound a lot like a Merkley shill. Really didn't mean to. But after all this, I'm maybe starting to lean Merkley.

  • Jack Murray (unverified)
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    Steve Duin is kind of notorious. Mostly, he uses heavy doses of shame with little research into the actual dilemma he's trying to expose.

    Example: Duin says the Merkley campaign didn't return calls.

    I've heard that when Duin was calling for this story, Merkley wasn't in the office. Where was he? The OREGONIAN's Headquarters. Just down the hall from Duin's office in the editorial area.

    But apparently Duin couldn't be bothered to walk down the hall for a comment. He wanted to go through the campaign, and when told that Merkley wasn't at the office (because he was in the same building as Duin), he freaked out and wrote a column without Merkley's comment.

    Nevertheless, I'm sure there are readers out there who listen to what Duin has to say. But I doubt that his influence reaches very far, as he's needlessly (and without much basis) pissed off a lot of people.

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    Didn't Novick research Merkley's negatives? (And maybe even first?) Maybe I'm wrong on that.

    The campaign has acknowledged asking about issues, not testing namecalling (like "he's a divider").

  • Larry McD (unverified)
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    Hey, Galen,

    You're not up on your mythology.

    I refer you to Edith Hamilton's tome in which Zeus infuses a human named Kevin with the spirit of the demigod Hyperbole on condition that he pay homage to the logic of the goddess Athena at least 12 times a year. The penalty for failing was too dreadful to contemplate...

    Ummmmmm, or maybe not.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Could it be that Jeff Merkley and his campaign staff are getting coaching from Chuck Schumer? Seems plausible, and if Merkley is linked to Schumer then Frohnmayer is certainly worth considering. There doesn't seem to be much difference between Schumer and Smith. They both voted for the war on Iraq, Mukasey and whatever Wall Street wanted

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Stephen: This is not a push poll. Push polls are not polls at all. They're quick calls made to many thousands of people designed to spread a message widely enough to affect an election. They don't collect information. On the other hand, this kind of poll question is called message testing. It's a totally different animal.

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    As anyone who decides to vote for a human being, my patience has been tested by Steve Novick lately -- death penalty, Bono (I've said it once, I'll say it again -- back off), and then, John Frohnmayer. I'm still voting for him, but you know, it's not like I've never looked Jeff Merkley's way (shhh, don't tell Steve). I'm a critical thinker who weighs all issues. And I always expect candidates, up until the last minute, to work hard to earn my vote.

    But Merkley just pressed my all-time biggest button -- Attacking fellow Democrats by using Republican, Far-Right, Reagan-esque, divisive rhetoric. Hillary is using it, and boy, I will NEVER vote for her as a result. Mr. Merkley, do you not get it? If you're gonna be a Democrat, BE a Democrat!

    Now, I don't even know what Steve could do to turn me away. He could even go after The Edge :).

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    But Merkley just pressed my all-time biggest button -- Attacking fellow Democrats by using Republican, Far-Right, Reagan-esque, divisive rhetoric.

    Kristin -- Can you actually quote or source an actual attack from Jeff Merkley or his campaign on this issue? Because so far, all we have here is a question in a poll.

    Why is why Duin used the operative phrase "contemplate attacking" - not "attacking".

    Full disclosure: My firm built Jeff Merkley's website, but I speak only for myself. I don't have anything to do with polling.

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    Kari,

    Why would he include it in the poll? Was it just an irrelevant gee-whiz kinda of question? If the scenario was "Steve Novick is pro-gay" or "Steve Novick loves welfare mothers" would they be just questions in a poll? Similar to being pro-gay or pro-welfare, being pro-taxes has been a line of rhetoric that has been used far too effectively by the Far Right against Democrats. Why go there?

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    "If Merkley actually comes out and blasts Novick for tax advocacy, I'll say he's a hypocrite. But it's his campaign team's job to find out where they stand and what their options are. Anything else is driving blind."

    Their better option is to run Jeff as an experienced politician who can get along with other politicians and has had some accomplishments at the state level. Blasting Novick for his views on taxes is disgusting and unworthy of a Democrat. Novick's views on taxes should be applauded by Merkley -- assuming, of course, that Merkley isn't a DINO. Frankly, I think Merkley isn't a DINO. I just think he's embarrassed by losing to a guy who is more of a novice and lacks his institutional backing, so he has gotten desperate.

    It's a shame to see politicians get this way, and quite obviously, Merkley isn't the most obvious "desperato" on the national political scene. "Hill" defines desparato.

  • Stephen Holland (unverified)
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    James X: After actually reading Silverman's article rather than my glossing over of Duin's piece, you're completely right. I misread.

  • Daniel Spiro (unverified)
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    "If Merkley actually comes out and blasts Novick for tax advocacy, I'll say he's a hypocrite. But it's his campaign team's job to find out where they stand and what their options are. Anything else is driving blind."

    Their better option is to run Jeff as an experienced politician who can get along with other politicians and has had some accomplishments at the state level. Blasting Novick for his views on taxes is disgusting and unworthy of a Democrat. Novick's views on taxes should be applauded by Merkley -- assuming, of course, that Merkley isn't a DINO. Frankly, I think Merkley isn't a DINO. I just think he's embarrassed by losing to a guy who is more of a novice and lacks his institutional backing, so he has gotten desperate.

    It's a shame to see politicians get this way, and quite obviously, Merkley isn't the most obvious "desperato" on the national political scene. "Hill" defines desparato.

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    Kristin,

    The poll was message testing. Everyone does it.

    Novick's campaign has admitted to doing their own message testing against Merkley... only they have refused to release the questions - which tells me that their questions were of a similar nature. Especially given the kinds of things Novick has said about Obama, Hillary, Darlene Hooley, Bono, etc.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Someone at the WU Merkley forum today asked about this, and Merkley said there were some questions tacked onto a long poll. He gave a good explanation. I thanked the woman who asked the question (someone I had never met).

    The definition of a push poll that I have always believed in is the very short "Suppose I told you the incumbent was convicted of DUII twice...would you vote for that person?" when the person had been stopped for DUII once; or taking a vote out of context and saying "My opponent is soft on drug kingpins" (aside from federal office, DA, or AG, who exactly in this state spends a lot of time acting on the punishment of the undefined "drug kingpins"?

    Let's just say for a moment that Novick tested themes that would make Merkley look bad. Questionable taste to do that, but suppose the Merkley campaign decides to tack similar/mirror image questions about Steve ("political consultant who has never held public office" is fact, not negativity). If a few questions are tacked onto the end of a very long poll (more than 20 questions) that may be a lot of things, but not a push poll.

    And about this crack, "The campaign has acknowledged asking about issues, not testing namecalling ...".

    Let's see.....on the front page of the Novick website is the link to this on You Tube:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqoxPuq7JXs&eurl=http://www.votehook.com/watch_eugene_democratic_senate_candidates_forum

    One of the opening screens on this video mentions whether Merkley has flamable pants. And what issue is that regarding? Something of real importance to all college students, or all people outside the Portland area---or just a smart aleck remark?

    I'm beginning to hear "have known Novick for years, but..." remarks more in sadness than in anger (" not living up to the potential such a bright guy has" sort of thing).

    Comments about not wanting to associate with some of the remarks Steve has made over the last several years, for instance.

    And folks, unless you have direct evidence that Chuck Schumer signed off on the wording of a poll, or the Fighter ad, or the script of Merkley's remarks at a town hall meeting, can you quit the DSCC remarks?

    Because there are also discussions among people who recall how Gordon happened to be elected in the first place---defeating a DSCC endorsed candidate without half the plain common sense of Merkley, and it was a candidate Steve Novick worked for.

    But has he ever said publicly what he learned from that campaign? Because it seems to some who remember that campaign that Steve is making some of the same stupid mistakes. And when a campaign makes stupid mistakes, it is their own responsibility. Mentioning something you dislike about the opposition every hour on the hour won't change that.

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    Kevin,

    I know it was message testing -- eye knot stoopid.

    That's my problem with it -- why test something so reprehensible?

    And let's not attack Steve when we don't know what he asked...

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    What gets me is the double standard that are applied to this race. The Novick campaign polled for the efficacy of negative attacks against Speaker Merkley - and actually used them for months. Yet Dunn gets in all a huff with pretend outrage over Merkley's campaign just returning the favor, even though the Speaker himself hasn't used any of the stuff he polled about.

    Duin may be a "useful idiot" liberal carrying right wing water, but don't forget who is really behind this: the AP. The AP - which is both dominated by conservatives (they just installed Rupert Murdoch on their board), and has a track record of encouraging their reporters to run contrafactual conservative smears, "broke" this non-story about Merkley's campaign poll.

    Clearly they didn't do so to do Democrats any favors. The best way for Gordon Smith to win is if Democrats can be persuaded to turn away from their strongest candidate - Speaker Merkley.

    And that's really all that anyone needs to know.

  • Jack Murray (unverified)
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    You know, the Merkley campaign isn't the organization that's constantly repeating the anti-Novick messages (pro-tax, unserious, etc.) Ironically, it's the Novick-supporting commenters that are reinforcing the message testing. And it's taken it to a much larger level than some telephone survey, where these questions were but a small proportion of a number of questions about the Senate race.

    I suppose I'll let the Novick team's strategy speak for itself.

    (Furthermore, what proof do we have that Novick's campaign didn't test similar messages? We only know about Merkley's message testing because someone called a friend of AP reporter Julia Silverman's when Julia was there.)

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    1) Do we know that Jeff Merkley used a Far Right, Republican talking point in a message testing poll against a fellow Democrat? Yes, we do.

    2) Do we know that Steve Novick used a Far Right, Republican talking point in a message testing poll against a fellow Democrat? Anyone, anyone, Bueller?

  • LT (unverified)
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    OK, Kristin, I'll bite:

    "2) Do we know that Steve Novick used a Far Right, Republican talking point in a message testing poll against a fellow Democrat? "

    Are you one of those who are supporting Steve because Merkley should hang his head in shame over an obscure 2003 resolution, no one should talk about that spellbinding speech Boquist gave on a 2007 resolution, and how the war got started is more important than talking about how veterans are treated in 2008?

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    LT..

    "Are you one of those" -- what the hell? Seriously? Happy marginalizing, LT

    I'm not biting....

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    Stephanie -- (whispering) thanks for the support, but shhhh...we might be in for a patronizing history lesson...shhh....

  • LT (unverified)
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    OK, let's cut to the chase:

    I support serious candidates who run positive campaigns and don't make snide or flamboyant remarks.

    I support the 21st Century GI Bill, and people who would rather be wonkish than clever. I like the new Merkley ad.

    I was offended by the heavy hand of DSCC in 1996 and think the people who worked on the Bruggere campaign owe us an explanation of why they thought that campaign would be successful----no, I don't think this year is the same.

    That may make me boring, but that doesn't make me a Novick supporter, no matter what is said in blogs like this.

    On May 21, we will know (unless there is a recount) whether "clever" ads or "off the shelf" ads won the primary.

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    Damn -- I knew it was coming...I shoulda ducked.

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    Kari, why did you not suppress this? Now we have to put Charlie in the dungeon for a week.

  • James X. (unverified)
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    Stephen: That's cool of you.

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    James X says:

    "This is not a push poll. Push polls are not polls at all. They're quick calls made to many thousands of people designed to spread a message widely enough to affect an election. They don't collect information. On the other hand, this kind of poll question is called message testing. It's a totally different animal."

    Push polls are "polls," but not in the sense of taking a snapshot of voter opinion. They are indeed used to test messages. They "push" by asking follow up questions. Sometimes those questions are offensive; why would you test the effectiveness of a message that Novick "repeatedly [supports] higher taxes for the middle classes" if you weren't considering using that message later?

    I don't have any problem with testing messages, as long as the messages tested are honest ones. I just don't see why an honorable campaign would find it useful to know the effectiveness of a lie about an opponent.

    What you describe, "quick calls made to many thousands of peopleā€¦" is more restrictively termed a "whispering campaign." That's not the same as a push poll at all.

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    The AP - which is both dominated by conservatives (they just installed Rupert Murdoch on their board), and has a track record of encouraging their reporters to run contrafactual conservative smears, "broke" this non-story about Merkley's campaign poll.

    I thought the poll story by Julia Silverman was unbalanced - since it didn't get into Novick's mirror-image poll of a month earlier, but I don't believe for a minute that the lovely and talented Julia Silverman is either a) a conservative ideologue or b) taking orders from Rupert Murdoch. Let's not get overly silly here.

    Kari, why did you not suppress this? Now we have to put Charlie in the dungeon for a week.

    You're right, Alworth. I'll bring the rack, you bring the cat o' nine tails.

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    2) Do we know that Steve Novick used a Far Right, Republican talking point in a message testing poll against a fellow Democrat?

    The answer to that is simple enough - the Novick campaign can release the questions they asked in their message testing poll.

    Look, this is remarkably simple. If Novick didn't test negative messaging then wouldn't they be eager to prove it by releasing the text of their questions?

    That they don't want to release their questions raises serious questions considering Novick's known penchant for using derogatory terms to disparage his fellow Democrats, not to mention his use of Republican talking points when he repeatedly attacked Merkley month after month on HR2.

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    Kevin,

    Brilliant. Using Merkley's obvious mistake, his reprehensible tactic, to put Novick on the defensive. It doesn't work.

    It's like when my two kids get into a fight -- the one obviously in the wrong points the finger at the innocent one..are we playing kid games now?

  • Runtmg (unverified)
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    First, I think Duin has a point. A marginalized one. If you go to Oregon Taxpayers for any type of quote it sort of ruins your point in many ways.

    Now, Duin's stab at Bono Merkley hypocrite race that Novick has set off, 25 million out of 38 million people who have HIV live in Africa. U2 moved their royalties to a dutch tax shelter when the royalty tax in Dublin was raised primarily aimed at...>U2. How is that for Tax fairness?

    I would do the same thing as well if that was done to me or my company and so would Steve Novick. So let's just stop the hypocrisy train, right now. My concern is that when a biil comes up in Congress for aid relief, will Steve Novick vote it down because Bono may be the one pushing the politicians to pass it?

    That is the real truth behind Novick's childish rant. Hiv in Africa would likely be cut because it involves US tax dollars and a Rockstar from Ireland is asking for it.

    Finally, the Push polling is something Merkley should be condemned on. But this is politics and Steve has shown that he can't stay on message or on point and can get sidetracked way too easy.

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    Again, not a push poll.

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    Kristin -- Can you actually quote or source an actual attack from Jeff Merkley or his campaign on this issue? Because so far, all we have here is a question in a poll.

    Mr. Chisholm has repeatedly attacked Novick. Mr. Chisholm works for the Merkley campaign.

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    Runtmg,

    I agree - -maybe not that Novick will have the power to condemn the entirety of AIDS funding, but I'm not so sold on Mr. Novick as to not be completely turned off by his condemnation of Bono. If he wants to take on the task of singlehandedly trying to save millions of African lives, then we can talk.

    Novick supporters aren't as dogmatic and as blinded as some may think.

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    You're right, Alworth. I'll bring the rack, you bring the cat o' nine tails.

    That's not even the half of it. You should see the video they play on continuous loop down there.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    I think Novick ought to hire a consultant to place calls asking people if they think Jeff Merkley (1) definitely, (2) probably, or (3) never still beats his wife. And then someone can come on to Blue Oregon to explain that this is not a push poll, but instead a pull poll, or "message testing", or tapioca pudding.

    Remember, he never had sex with that woman, and it all depends what the meaning of "is" is.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Can you actually quote or source an actual attack from Jeff Merkley or his campaign on this issue? Because so far, all we have here is a question in a poll.

    Merkley in the Oregonian:

    "I don't support higher taxes on working people if they have their funds in capital investments in stocks," Merkley said in an interview after an appearance by five of the Senate candidates at the Washington County Public Affairs Forum.

    Merkley's use of the term "working people" to define those making up to $150,000 is clearly part of the messaging strategy coming out of this poll. It is designed to contrast with Novick's desire to "raise taxes on the middle class" or whatever pap Merkley was testing.

    It's legit for Merkley to highlight this policy difference -- it's substantive and doesn't attack Novick personally. But I have a problem with Merkley's belief that those making $100k+ are part of the middle class that deserves "relief" from taxes. I mean, seriously? This is what Merkley really believes?

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Again, not a push poll.

    We're being a little pedantic, aren't we?

    A push poll uses negative attacks to sway thousands of voters. A "message testing" poll tests negative attacks that are designed to be used later to sway thousands of voters.

    Distinction without a difference.

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    "A push poll uses negative attacks to sway thousands of voters. A "message testing" poll tests negative attacks that are designed to be used later to sway thousands of voters.

    Distinction without a difference."

    Actually, there is a difference. A push poll is not a poll at all. No one is keeping track of the answers, they are not used for strategizing, and it's not a poll company who makes up the questions.

    A push poll is when you PRETEND to do a poll, but your real goal is just to shit on your opponent.

    What Merkley did was test negative messages. But he paid a real polling company to ask, because he was interested in seeing which attacks might resonate with voters.

    Novick used the same PROCESS. It is incorrect to say "Novick did the same thing," because there's no evidence of that at all. Asking Novick to release his polling is a little stupid, since Matt Canter showed no inclination to release his, even AFTER he'd been busted on the contents by Julia Silverman. Kari's attempt at equivalency is dishonest; he has no idea what was in Novick's poll, so how would he know they're equal? More of the same old politics--"hey, he does it too! I imagine he does, anyway..."

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    Charlie~

    That Hillary video was horrible.

    Damn you for making me send it to everyone I know.

    -mike

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    LOL @ Jeff

    Too funny, man. Too funny.

    Which, while I am off topic...

    Kari: how's little Jake? I didn't see you at the Platform Convention, so I didn't get to ask. And how's your wife?

  • Pat Malach (unverified)
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    Kari, why did you not suppress this? Now we have to put Charlie in the dungeon for a week.

    Make a joke of it, jeff.

    But that fact is that this didn;t appear as an "in the news" piece until it was repeatedly referenced int he comments, and then it was put up by Charlie rather than your "neutral" fellow who is supposed to be handling those posts. You're kari's lil' lap dog, jeff.

    And BlueOregon is not a liberal community blog, it's an all-but-official tool of the Democratic Party establishment that exploits the credibility brought to it by its many and varied contributors.

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    If Novick's own admitted message testing didn't test comparable negatives on Merkley then they'd release their poll questions to prove to the world what a hypocrit Merkley is.

    That Novick doesn't want to release his polling questions indicates rather strongly that his was on par with Merkley's.

    What nobody here seems to be willing to say is that message testing tells a campaign as much about their own negatives as it does about your opponent's negatives. Which is why everyone does it!

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    why would they need to do that to prove Merkley's a hypocrite? Do you know what hypocrite means? When you say one thing and do another. It has nothing to do with another person at all. No "proof" is needed; it's all on the record. Merkley planned attacks on Novick for things he himself supports. That's textbook hypocrisy. And no, everybody does not do character smear gutter politics in their message testing. But we know Merkley does.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Their better option is to run Jeff as an experienced politician who can get along with other politicians and has had some accomplishments at the state level.

    "[G]et along with other politicians" is cause for caution and skepticism. To get good things done, that makes sense, but the other side of the picture is getting involved in not-so-good things. If Chuck Schumer is around, watch it.

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    You should see the video they play on continuous loop down there.

    Even John Yoo would call that torture.

    But that fact is that this didn;t appear as an "in the news" piece until it was repeatedly referenced int he comments, and then it was put up by Charlie rather than your "neutral" fellow who is supposed to be handling those posts. You're kari's lil' lap dog, jeff.

    Careful, or I'll send the DSCC goons to throw you in the dungeon, too.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Commentary on Whatever it takes. Interesting thoughts on politicians and voters. Nothing to be proud of.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)
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    A push poll is not a poll at all. No one is keeping track of the answers, they are not used for strategizing, and it's not a poll company who makes up the questions.

    A push poll is when you PRETEND to do a poll, but your real goal is just to shit on your opponent.

    What Merkley did was test negative messages. But he paid a real polling company to ask, because he was interested in seeing which attacks might resonate with voters.

    Novick used the same PROCESS. It is incorrect to say "Novick did the same thing," because there's no evidence of that at all.

    I see it didn't take long for someone to start parsing the English and carefully explaining what the meaning if "is" is.

    Absolutely brilliant.

    I DID NOT DO A PUSH POLL OR MESSAGE TESTING WITH THAT WOMAN!

    Looks more and more likely that Cindy Neville gets my vote in the primary. I don't hear her slashing and trashing her opponents.

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    Looks more and more likely that Cindy Neville gets my vote in the primary. I don't hear her slashing and trashing her opponents.

    Then you're not paying attention. She's been very critical of both Merkley and of Novick. What constitutes "slashing and trashing" is very obviously in the eye... or ear of the beholder.

    As a practical matter, a candidate for a competitive, elective office who doesn't offer some form of criticism of the alternative(s) is a candidate without any chance of winning because the very point of a competitive race is to make your case to the voters as to why they should pick you and not the alternative.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    A push poll is not a poll at all.

    I'm not disagreeing with your semantic distinction, TJ. I'm saying that the end result of a push poll and the end result of testing negative messages against your opponent are exactly the same. I can't figure out why people get all riled up about a push poll, but they don't get riled up about a negative ad that's going to reach more people more quickly. It's the same thing.

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    Kari Chisolhm: I thought the poll story by Julia Silverman was unbalanced - since it didn't get into Novick's mirror-image poll of a month earlier, but I don't believe for a minute that the lovely and talented Julia Silverman is either a) a conservative ideologue or b) taking orders from Rupert Murdoch. Let's not get overly silly here.

    Julia Silverman may indeed be a sweetheart. I don't know. I've never met her. But I can tell you that it is a near certainty that if she'd gone to her AP editors with a story about Gordon Smith testing negative campaign messages against either Speaker Merkley or Steve Novick - even unusual attacks for Republicans to make - they would have declined to carry it.

    Don't believe me? Go an type "AP negative poll" into google, and see what you get. Here: I'll do your homework for you. There are only two items other than national news about American opinion on war, and international opinion on the US. They are: 1) "Merkley campaign tests negative messages against Novick", and 2) "Negative poll questions alienate base - Ben Smith - Politico.com." (politico.com is a right wing news aggregator). You have to delve 5 pages deep to find the first AP story about a Republican attack "Mitt Romney launches negative television advertising in Iowa", and that article was from a British newspaper explaining an overwhelmingly public strategy. In the top 200 results, there is literally not a single equivalent article about Republicans testing poll questions on Republicans or Democrats.

    That's not "silly", Kari. It's just the plain facts.

    Please understand that individual reporters can be wonderful people. But if the editors who approve stories are all conservative, you get the extreme right wing bias that we see in the news today. I call it the "Peter Parker/J. Jonah Jameson" effect.

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    "I see it didn't take long for someone to start parsing the English and carefully explaining what the meaning if "is" is."

    This argument is akin to saying that if two people drive a car, and one of them uses the car to run over an old lady and the other one uses it to get to the grocery store, both should be charged with vehicular homicide.

    A poll is a TOOL. It's what you do with it that's important. The AP article makes clear what Merkley did with it.

    Miles, the end result difference is that in a push poll there's no accountability for accuracy. In a negative message test there isn't either...but once the ad gets made, now the candidate is accountable for what gets said. So in a message test, one expects there is at least SOME hint of truth, or at least something plausible enough that it won't get laughed or shouted off the airwaves if it becomes an ad. But in a push poll, you might as well ask if people know your opponent diddles young boys and farm animals, for all the difference it would make. I suppose I would agree if Merkley had no intention of running attacks in the vein of his tests, then I suppose he could run the chicken-diddling smear just as easily. But because he paid for a full poll with answers he WAS interested in getting, there was no point in paying that much dough just to smear a guy.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    Okay, the accountability angle is a good argument, because a candidate will be held accountable for his ads but not necessarily his phone ops. In the end, though, it's not the push poll (a.k.a. "phone banking") that is inherently bad, it's the content of the call. If Merkley's camp makes thousands of phone calls telling people that Novick supports the death penalty, there's nothing wrong with that. If they say that Novick supports the death penalty for that voter's kids, then it's wrong.

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    A "push poll", Miles, is not a poll. It is, instead, a way of pushing political messages through fraud. The fraud is to pretend to voters that you are asking their opinion, when you are really attempting to persuade them - usually by lying about your opponent.

    "Phone banking" is not a "push poll". It is an attempt to persuade voters through direct honest contact. It may or may not have negative messages, but there is no misrepresentation.

    A "poll" contacts a very small number of people - too little to affect an election directly. It determines public views and can test messages.

    Please don't confuse them. They're entirely different.

  • Miles (unverified)
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    I understand the distinction you (and every other political junkie) try to make; I'm arguing it's a false distinction. Push polls, negative campaign advertisements, and phone banking are not entirely different animals. It's not the medium that's important in determining whether something is "okay", it's the message.

    For instance, if I do an opinion poll (a real one) asking how voters would respond if they knew Steve Novick was a communist, and then later use that information in an attack ad calling Novick a communist, that's not any different than just running a push poll where I tell people that Novick is a communist. The information is false in all mediums. You can't excuse the messaging poll by saying "It wasn't really a push poll, it was just testing various messages." What you're really opposed to in a push poll isn't the way it's done, it's the false message. And we should be just as outraged by a false message that's in a messaging poll, or a campaign ad, as we are one that's in a push poll.

    Yes, there is a fundamental deception when doing a push poll. But is that misrepresentation really any different than a campaign ad, where the candidate tries to convince you that he's "working for you"? Most campaigning is about image and deception. I'm just not convinced that pretending to be doing a poll is any different than any of the other pretenses that candidates use to get voters attention.

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    I'm with ya now, Miles. We're discussing mere labeling issues now; whether you run an ad off it or not, testing sleazy messages still puts them in the mind of the respondent. I agree.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    • Kari and TJ are correct about push polls.

    • Why is there discussion of Bono is this thread? Is he Merkley's pollster?

    <h2>- I think Duin's criticism is right on. Has Novick's campaign played equally dirty pool? I do not know.</h2>
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