Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) announced his retirement today, mixed–but mostly dire–news for Democrats, who were hopeful that he could hold on and defeat his likely, scandal-tainted GOP opponent Tim Griffin. One of the possible reasons for the retirement? A poll conducted by SurveyUSA, paid for by the progressive blog Firedoglake, which tested negative messages about the health care reform bill and whether it made voters sour on Snyder.
The question, raised by Nate Silver and others: Is Firedoglake trying to scare vulnerable Democrats into retirement in order to kill health care reform? All indications point to “yes.” I’m hearing that FDL will conduct more polls in vulnerable Democratic districts, based largely on this chart of the “top 20 Democrats who could lose their seat over health care vote[s]. Snyder was at the top of that list, posted by FDL’s Jane Hamsher on Jan. 6.
Did Firedoglake Take Out Vic Snyder?
I've added the link to Nate Silver's critique of the poll, some of which I think is right and some I'm not so sure of. The other links are from the original article.
What in the world possessed Weigel to write this sort of thing? I have no idea, but it's chock full of nonsense. Let's start with the basics.
Vic Snyder is a U.S. Representative. He can find money to conduct his own polls, and I'm pretty sure that he knows how they work. Certainly, someone on his staff or on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party's financial organization for House candidates and incumbents, could figure it out. This was a single poll commissioned by an inexperienced organization (albeit with a polling organization that Nate Silver gave high marks less than a year ago before slagging their work this time.)
If he trusted a poll commissioned by an inexperienced organization to decide his political future, then he's insane. I've never met the man, but I'll do him the favor of assuming he's not.
There's also the question of what Nate Silver was wondering. If you read Nate's article, it's hard to see where he got that. Nate's criticisms, while rather snotty at times, never even implied that FireDogLake was targeting these people. His criticisms were all about the questions that were asked and in what order. His only comment on strategy wondered if FDL were trying to affect Snyder's vote on the health care bill.
Since it criticizes FireDogLake, which seems to be about the only major blog that is taking on the health care issue from the point of view of people who don't owe their jobs to the government directly or indirectly, I'm sure this story will be quoted endlessly in the next day or two. It shouldn't be. I think what you can determine from those quotings is who are honest observers of what's going on in DC these days, and who are the cheerleaders.