Politics is a rough-and-tumble business, with campaigns bringing whatever resources they can to the table. But are there limits to what consultants, particularly pollsters, should do for their clients?
I raise that question after reading a May 18 memo from Celinda Lake and four other members of her firm, Lake Research Partners, that sought to discredit a May 14-16 USC Price/Los Angeles Times survey of the Los Angeles mayoral race.
Clearly, the five Lake Research members were implying that the Times poll was little more than a thinly veiled effort to help the candidate preferred by the newspaper’s editorial page. Accusing the Times of being involved in a conspiracy to use a bogus poll to help Garcetti was nothing short of a rash, unsubstantiated accusation of bias and fraud.
Mind you, the survey in question was conducted for the Times by a reputable, bipartisan polling team: Benenson Strategy Group, a Democratic firm, and M4 Strategies, a GOP firm. And the LA Times piece in question was written by Michael Finnegan, a well-regarded political reporter who was described to me by a veteran journalist as “one of the most honest and conscientious reporters I have ever worked with.”
The charge — and the entire memo — was all the more head-scratching because Lake Research Partners never referred to its own survey. It cited other polls, but never its own data, which seemed like an obvious omission.