In the wake of devastating blows being delivered to Pat Herrity in the way of GOP loses right in the heart of the district he represents, it appears as though Keith Fimian is trying to gain some momentum in the Republican primary for Congress in Virginia’s 11th District. In a poll that was just done by Fimian’s pollster, the numbers are made to appear as though Fimian is actually leading Democratic incumbent Gerry Connolly in the early stages of the race by a margin of 40% to 35%. Even though this might be a more favorable year for Republicans than 2008, there are several things that should be taken into consideration about this poll before anyone even begins to view it as credible.
Looking back on the 2008 election in Virginia’s 11th District, Gerry Connolly had to emerge from a four way primary battle to win the Democratic nomination. In hopes of taking advantage of that, Fimian released an internal poll which showed him trailing Connolly by just four points despite the fact that nobody knew Fimian. Of course, we all know that Fimian ended up losing by three times that margin which suggests that voters either still didn’t know much about Fimian, didn’t like what they did know, or (most likely) some combination of the two. Based upon the inaccurate polling that Fimian has pushed in the past in order to gain some momentum and credibility with potential supporters, these poll results have to be viewed with extreme skepticism.
In addition to the skepticism that results from Fimian’s history of pushing unreliable polls, there’s also some serious questions about the methodology used for the poll. If you take the time to actually read beyond the headline of the poll, you’ll find that buried near the end of the poll’s memo is a statement that says only 300 likely voters were actually included in the analysis. This raises a lot of questions because most respectable polls question at least 500 likely voters and usually include 600 to 800 likely voters. Now one of the reasons to keep the sample size low is so that it can be targeted towards people who are more likely to support the candidate you want to perform well. Considering that Fimian is hiring this firm and would like results that he can publicize, it therefore isn’t too much of a stretch to think that the group of “likely voters” was identified in a way that would be the most favorable to Fimian’s candidacy.
Now even if you were willing to look past the aforementioned concerns about the poll, you can’t look past the fact that it was conducted almost a year before the general election and months before the Republican nominee is selected. When you consider how bloody the Republican primary has already gotten, there is the real possibility for any numbers to change before voters head to the polls. Just look back to this point in the presidential election in 2008, for instance, and you’ll be reminded of how many pundits still thought Hillary Clinton was going to be the 44th President of the United States.
What this all comes down to is that these poll results simply don’t tell us anything because it’s still too early in the race, Fimian has a history of pushing unreliable polls in hopes of gaining some momentum, and the methodology used during the poll was rather questionable. Nonetheless, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that Fimian’s supporters are hoping people don’t pay attention to how unreliable the poll is and are already trying to claim Gerry Connolly’s career is over. When it comes to election day, however, Fimian’s supporters will have to face the fact that they can’t skew the electorate in order to get the results they want.