The old political saying “a hit dog will holler” is in full effect as the head of Chism Strategies penned a response to the Y’all Politics poll released earlier this week.  The Y’all Politics poll was conducted by Impact Management Group, a respected regional independent pollster with no financial ties to the Mississippi gubernatorial race or any of its candidates.

Chism has responded to YP polls in the pastIt’s more than a little noteworthy that Chism’s firm is being paid by the Jim Hood campaign this cycle, according to his associate Brandon Miller on a Mississippi Today podcast episode. Nowhere in Chism’s analysis did he disclose the financial relationship with Hood in his comments.  With that in mind, Chism goes into some detail on his response to with several parts of the poll.

First, he took issue with the racial demographics of the poll.  Race is undeniably important in political polling.  By Chism’s measure, black participation in his ideal political world would be north of 30%.  The IMG poll, which was a live call poll, which can often get a range of responses with regards to race because answers aren’t programmatic, has self identified black participation at 27%.  But when combining all non-white responses to the IMG poll, it clocks in at over 33%.  That’s a more than valid racial sample.

Probably the biggest stick in his craw is that the poll shows that his client/candidate, Jim Hood, remains susceptible to both Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and former Judge Bill Waller, Jr.

Chism brings up other minor demographic concerns.  He makes comparisons to his prior results, but it bears reminding (again) that Chism Strategies is a polling firm that takes money from partisan candidates in this geography.  His results and methodology at the very least should be viewed through the prism that his firm has a vested interest in results that help “his side”.

Here are some examples.

In our August 2018 poll, Chism took to the interwebs to denigrate the result.  He particularly took issue with our results in MS-4 that had Rep. Steven Palazzo over Jeremey Anderson 54/37.  By Chism’s calculation, he calculated Palazzo based on our polling at 48%.  Palazzo won the race two months later at 68%.

Two months later, NBC News conducted a poll that virtually mirrored the YP results from two months prior.  The results of the race were extremely close to our polling in both US Senate races and all four congressional races.  But at the time in the heat of a political campaign where Chism was a vendor, our polling was assailed as “embarassing.”  Embarrassingly accurate apparently.

Chism is good at what he does.  But what he does isn’t unbiased polling.  He’s a political consultant first.  It’s even on his logo (“Advocacy”).  Don’t confuse the fact that he has a polling firm and is beloved by the media establishment with the fact that he undeniably has skin in the game – a fact that is rarely, if ever, drawn out in media analysis.

Media Bias

And speaking of media analysis, media organizations that normally run with polling information like the Y’all Politics polling done this week have not done so.  It may be that the results is not what the media organizations want their audience to hear.

In any event, we walk down memory lane to see the promotion of a poll done by Chism, with the full disclosure that he was paid by the candidate, Mike Espy, and where it was subsequently published by both the Clarion Ledger and USA Today.

In October 2018, the Clarion Ledger published the results of a Survey Monkey poll.  Yes, you read that correctly.  A Survey Monkey poll.  But the headline of the story was the challengers were energized by the results that hurt the “establishment conservative” candidate.  Hence, it got fast tracked.

It could be interpreted that polling that’s good for media chosen candidates goes above the fold, but polling that’s good for candidates the media roots against gets buried or not even published at all.

Six days hence into what is undeniably the most comprehensive independent political polling done on the Mississippi Governor’s race this cycle, every newspaper or TV station of record in Mississippi have very visibly opted to bury the results of this poll.  And they’ve all received it.

Y’all Politics polling since 2016 has had a remarkable track record of success in the end analysis.  But the Mississippi media has now clearly laid down a marker and we will see for the rest of this political season how they react to polling from other sources.