Survey Says … Some People Have More Money than Brains

Amateurs in politics make truly funny missteps and mistakes. Here’s one that will gain national attention for tone-deaf bone-headedness that is the specialty of some of the leaders and wanna-be leaders of Gilbert Public Schools.

It’s no secret that some of the candidates for the two GPS Governing Board seats are particularly well-funded and have a lot of friends. What do you think would happen if some of those *friends* decided a poll would reveal the true state of the political scene in Gilbert, Arizona? Non-stop hilarity! [Waving hi to Blake Sacha and Jennifer Halvorson and their friends who donated.]

The folks behind Rebuild Our Gilbert Board filed a Pre-Primary Election Report  that included donations and expenditures related to Public Policy Polling and a poll that purported to reveal the REAL political climate in Gilbert. Take a look at page 4 of the report, where you’ll see a $2,500.00 donation by C. Dean Debnam, CEO of Workplace Options, on June 7, 2014.

C. Dean Debnam also is president of Public Policy Polling. What a coincidence! If you look at page 6 of the report, you see that Rebuild Our Board paid exactly $2,500.00 to Public Policy Polling a week before the PPP president donated to this Political Action Committee. Isn’t that convenient?

It was a bit more than *convenient,* as Good Old Boy Charlie Santa Cruz, candidate for one of those board seats explained. Notice his explanation mucked up the dates even more. We may be on to something here:

Public Policy Poll Astounding and Revealing: The respondents to a poll that was conducted on May 21st and 22nd provide us with an assessment of how members of our community evaluate the performance of the GPS Governing Board.

There also was a press release from the PAC confirming the dates of the poll:

“It’s very unusual to see disapproval numbers this high in a local election,” says Jim Williams, issue polling specialist at Public Policy Polling, a firm that has conducted public policy surveys since 2001. Smith is referring to a recent telephone poll his company conducted May 21-22, 2014.

Hilarity ensues with the hackneyed summary and analysis of the results of the poll:

The 16-question poll included 343 Gilbert residents; fifty-three percent of the respondents disapproved of the governing board’s performance. Though less than half have children attending Gilbert Public Schools, they demonstrated a solid awareness of school district issues. An overwhelming majority (97 percent) indicated they are certain to vote in the November election.

Friends of Charles Santa Cruz are not revealing any background of the poll, like what the 16 questions were and how the 343 Gilbert residents were selected in the first place. No sirree! You’re supposed to *trust* that they’re reporting, summarizing and analyzing everything accurately. It might be because national media outlets have severely criticized PPP for being untrustworthy in those areas in the past:

PPP doesn’t follow many of the industry’s best practices, like calling voters’ cell phones; the firm only calls landlines. It discards hundreds of respondents in an unusual process known as “random deletion.” And because PPP’s interviewers rely on lists of registered voters—rather than random digit dialing—and simply ask non-voters to hang up the phone, the firm can’t use census numbers to weight their sample, as many other pollsters do.

PPP is a nationally-known name in political circles. Why is this powerhouse North Carolina firm interested in a school board race in Gilbert, Arizona? Why would the president of PPP donate exactly $2,500.00, the exact cost of the poll the PAC commissioned? Why was the poll conducted in May, 2014 – but the convenient donation did not occur until a week after the PAC paid for the poll? It’s a mystery!

PPP has released polls on many races where Debnam has contributed to one of the candidates or relevant party committees, most notably those 2008 races involving Kay Hagan. The donations were not disclosed when the polls were released… Many pollsters work for partisan clients, and Debnam and his staff are free to donate to any candidates they like. But not disclosing that one candidate is a recent client is problematic.

Maybe something isn’t quite right with this poll beyond the secrecy of methodology and analysis:

Public Policy Polling is avowedly pro-Democratic; it also prizes its reputation for reliability. Can it continue to juggle these two balls?

It doesn’t appear that PPP’s poll is going to carry any weight in Gilbert, Arizona. Part of the idea was to establish a narrative that 97% of the electorate is mad as hell at the GPS board and they’re going to take it back on election day. Someone had better tell the poll workers! Until the PAC and PPP release the actual questions, the raw data, and their calculations on the estimates, we’ll continue to laugh. So will the fired up conservative voters in GPS boundaries.

This poll that cost $2,500.00 says 97% “indicated they are certain to vote” is so ridiculous that we can’t believe the PAC even published that number. Here’s more idiocy: the PAC’s claim that the poll was *donated* in the first place. That nonsense probably would interest folks who keep Arizona elections clean … or at least, they try to keep them clean.

The survey was donated to the Unite for Education campaign of Rebuild Our Gilbert Board, a non-profit political action committee that is supporting the candidacy of incumbent Jill Humpherys, a board member in her second year and Dr. J. Charles Santa Cruz, a retired educator and administrator who spent 31 years at GPS. Two seats are up for election in the November 4, 2014 general election.

Take Back our Gilbert Board, and give it to candidates who will trust the experts and rubberstamp every expenditure and demand for more, more and more tax dollars. It’s for the kids! [Gag. You all know this is sarcasm, right?]

$2,500.00? Sheeesh.

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