The McLaughlin Poll

The Cagle campaign is out pimping a poll conducted for the campaign by McLaughlin & Associates. This is the first poll of significance showing Ralph behind.

Now, for all of you who want to pooh-pooh this poll, a brief word, if you will, about McLaughlin & Associates. I know Jim McLaughlin. I know their work. I hold no polling firm in higher esteem, frankly. I’ve worked with Strategic Visions, I worked with thepollingcompany, and I’ve worked with several others.

In my mind, McLaughlin & Associates is at the top and it is to Casey Cagle’s credit that he used them. McLaughlin’s polls pull no punches and they are very, very careful to give a full and complete picture of the race.

According to McLaughlin, Casey leads Ralph 27% to 21% with 53% undecided — a substantial deviation from other polls. Casey is ahead 31% to 22% in “North Georgia


  1. Demonbeck says:

    Wow, a six point difference! It would seem logical to me that with the absence of television ads out and the high name recognition that Ralph enjoys over Casey that once Casey starts buying airtime, that Ralph’s hopes will be dashed. It tells me that even though a lot of folks out there know Ralph and don’t want to vote for him. This news does not bode well for the Reed campaign.

  2. GAWire says:

    I also would like to give McLaughlin a word of endorsement here. In the research community, they are very well respected for their data.

    And, as far as the results go, remember what I have been saying about positive trends for the Cagle campaign? Well, this is when you see those trends start to really pay for Cagle – this will have a huge affect for Casey – fundraising, gotv, etc. This will increase public support away from Ralph b/c fence sitters will be comfortable backing a candidate that has some empirical data showing he can beat RR.

  3. Karla Stuckey says:

    No so fast. If you said they once were very well respected in the research community your statement would be correct. Not as much as in the past, I’m afraid.

    Unfortunately I know of once race the NRCC polled. Three weeks out McLaughlin polled 60% for a candidate who actually received 32% in the primary.

    Polls at this point, before the media war begins, are essentially meaningless except for name id. This poll is so different from the other polls done so far as to suggest this candidate commission poll is intended to influence dollars rather than have any meaningful relevance to where voters really are.

  4. Bull Moose says:

    Casey’s positive message of experience is resonating with Georgians while Ralph’s campaign of distortion is being seen for what it is…

  5. George Allen 08 says:

    53 percent undecided? How does McLaughlin find 53 percent undecided and Strategic Vision find 22 percent undecided? Those are huge differences.

    I too would like to see the actual questions used in the poll. Erick, you said the margin of error was quite high…do you know what it actually was?

  6. The Busdriver says:

    Awesome. Karla “I got a red phone line right into the White House” chimes in with her thoughts on the numbers.

    It’s suppose it’s not suprising that Karla would come down against the McLaughlin poll, since she’s First Mate on the Good Ship Ralphie. Remember she said last week that there’s “no ill will toward Ralph” in DC, and that Casey has been “out-classed” by Ralph (the latter assertion being beyond laughable).

    Any other self-promoting posters overstating their DC connections want to share their thoughts? C’mon, someone tell us that Rove had a tuna fish sandwhich for lunch.

  7. Erick you are a big time star. Get the pollsters that poll Georgia to release their geographic definitions. I’d love to know which counties Survey USA considers “Atlanta”, “NW Georgia” and “South & East”.

  8. Jack S says:

    Hmmmm…. Strategic vision, some outfit no one has ever heard of versus the mclaughlin group, one of the best republican polling groups in the country….. I just can’t decide who to believe.

    Ga wire said it best. This trend has been building for months and now its breaking loose for cagle.

  9. Erick says:

    George, the margin of error is +/- 4.9%.

    Karla, I’ve heard a similar story about the polling deviation, but I heard that it was Fabrio, McLauglin & Associations, which is a different outfit from McLaughlin & Associations.

    John and Jimmy do really good work.

  10. landman says:

    I had the opportunity to look at and discuss this poll a couple of weeks ago with Casey and Jim, and the results were really in line with what we have seen happening in this race.While the undecided number looks high I think it is closer to the actual number than the 22% number of a couple of weeks ago.

    I will leave it to Joel and the team to discuss the specifics,but I will say that the questions were very revealing as to what the people think of Ralph,and his ethical lapses and how they veiw the contrast between the two candidates.

    The poll will obviously have its critics from the Reed supporters,but having looked at it in detail Ralph has problems and while a 6% right now is great news for the Cagle Team the answers to the questions asked have got to fire them up.

    As I have stated before Ralph was at his best when he announced and he is in a box that is hard to escape.Cagle will win this race.

  11. SouthernConservative says:

    I love how the Strategic Vision poll was gospel before, and now it’s a crock of crap, and the McLaughlin poll has become gospel. Not that I have anything against Jim and his folks, but golly, some of you Caglers flip flop more than Kerry.

  12. jacewalden says:

    I don’t think anyone is really arguing the Strategic Vision Poll…

    As Demonbeck pointed out, it’s not the individual poll that matters, it’s the trend. In the polls leading up to the McLaughlin poll, Reeds lead was shrinking less and less, and now it seems to have been over taken. That’s how I see it anyway.

    I still think Cagle needs to focus on himself though and quit trying to throw mud a Reed.

  13. nfire says:

    I don’t put too much stock into any poll, but it is nice to see one out that shows Sen. Cagle in the lead.

  14. grassrootsguy says:

    53% undecided as compared with 22% in another firms polling? Somthing is obviously wrong. Nothing has happened to justify such a swing in undecided voters.

    Either leading questions were asked, or there has to be some other explanation. That is just too big of a swing I would think.

    Can’t wait for the commercials to begin.

  15. Demonbeck says:

    I wonder if Cagle’s ads will follow the trend this cycle and have a baby picture.

    Trends are the most important thing that polls can show. Right now Cagle is on a definite upswing and I (though I am biased) see no way that Reed can overcome this trend unless he pulls a coup on this negative press – something he has refused to do thus far.

    If this poll tells us anything, it tells us that all Cagle has to do is up his name recognition and he has the election locked up.

  16. SouthernConservative says:

    Cagle’s ads will most likely feature little cartoon fashioned bobble headed dolls, grainy photos, casino scenes, bling, chips…

  17. GAWire says:

    >>>”””the margin of error is +/- 4.9%.”””

    Uh, that is what we in the research business call: CREDIBLE AND ACCURATE DATA! for a poll such as this.

    As to the question of demographics, the Atlanta metro area is defined be certain counties, which I think is up to 18 now. This is depicted by the DoL, and that is what accurate demographic allocation should be based on.

    On Strategic Vision’s poll numbers … remember all along I have been saying that the actual numbers don’t mean a lot at this point, b/c there quite frankly hasn’t been a lot happening? Remember? I’ve been saying it for months. Perhaps some reading retention classes would be helpful. Anyways, the numbers don’t mean a lot but variance and deviation (i.e. trends) tell us a great deal, assuming the multiple polls measure similar samples, which SV’s polls do (their database is actually pretty small, but they pull good samples nevertheless, so you can be sure their samples show good representation). Those trends have shown high name ID for Ralph, but steady decline in support, while increasing name ID for CC and increasing support in his collumn as well. Meanwhile, the U collumn has increased, taking away from Ralph mostly, but not taking away from Casey as much. Basic analysis says: Good for Casey, bad for Ralph.

  18. SouthernConservative says:

    Perhaps. I meant to be sarcastic, but now that you mention it, maybe I am bracing myself – for more negative attack pieces that do nothing to benefit, you, I, or the rest of Republicans in Georgia in relation to who their new leaders will be.

  19. debbie0040 says:

    The poll is crap. Find out what the questions were. I talked to an insider with the Reed campaign and he said supporters had called in to the office last week and complained about the questions that were asked. The questions were not straight forward questions. They were derogatory in nature to Reed.

    They did not simply ask if you support Reed or Cagle. There were lead in questions. Cagle should release the questions that were asked.

    You Cagle people just keep putting your faith in that poll. That would be great….

  20. debbie0040 says:

    I know that in the doors the guys from Cobb County knocked on May 13th, only 5 % had even heard of Casey Cagle.

    Cagle needs to request the polling firm release the questions that were asked.

  21. GAWire says:

    I bet you think push polling is illegal, too, don’t you Debbie? C’mon, admit it … you would ask for an ethic violation be filed due to a push poll on behalf of the Cagle campaign.

    Welcome to politics where data drives EVERYTHING!!!! Let’s see … Debbie’s Cobb door knocking volunteers or a scientific research survey from a reputable firm? I’ll let you all decide.

  22. The Busdriver says:

    I’m no “insider,” but I would imagine the questions went something like this:

    “Agree or Disagree, Ralph Reed is a dishonest cash slut who will auction off his values and his supporters at the first sign of a six figure payday.”

    So what’s the problem?

  23. landman says:

    SC,Ive seen the commercials let me know what you think when they run,ok?

    Debbie you get more useless insider intel than Hogan’s Hero’s,it would be a great benefit to you if you thought about some of the things you post before you post them,or at least get the full talking points mailer from Ralph and then post.

    CAGLE ’06

  24. debbie0040 says:

    GAWire, I had nothing to do with that ethics filing. I am glad someone did file it though. To be honest, I had not heard about those allegations. I just had heard different people talk about filing one regarding the puffing of contributions. Believe it or not Cagle has a lot of enemies in his district. My that filing has you upset doesn’t it?

    Trust me, if I had known anything about it, I would have bragged about it on PP.

    Glad to see you admit it was push polling GAWire 🙂 That is a no brainer now isn’t it?

  25. debbie0040 says:

    Landman, then let’s see the questions. Pretty straightforward solution to put to rest the push polling rumors.

  26. Three Jack says:

    LOL, Busdriver, your posts are crack up hilarious. Debbie on the other hand is just cracked up!

    Time to call the DC insiders, get that Bush/Cheney endorsement lined up…might help push that Reed number to 25%. LMAO!

    BTW, Cagle commercial should feature poker chip with Vote for the Cheat on one side, a picture of that teared up, trash hating Indian on the other.

  27. George Allen 08 says:

    A 4.9 percent margin of error is huge. Strategic Vision’s margin of error is only 3 percent, and they poll only 800 people. This poll likely sampled less than 600 voters if it had a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

    And for those who say this is the trend that is occuring now, Strategic Vision’s latest Georgia poll came out less than two weeks ago.

    This is a poll that was paid for by Casey Cagle, is not publishing the exact wording of the question(s), and has a very small sample size. I’m going to go ahead and trust every other poll taken over the last year that said Ralph has the lead.

  28. SouthernConservative says:

    With the margin of error, this poll places the race at a statistical dead heat, anyway. With a 53% undecided demographic, it makes the results, or the method, of the poll, highly questionable.

  29. GAWire says:

    Let’s just be clear here, though … this poll will do more for Casey than 100 Rudy Giulliani and Hannity events would do for Reed.

    Rationalize, make excuses, spit, cuss, yell and scream all you want – the results cannot be denied … bad for Reed, good for Casey. It’s as simple as that.

  30. GAWire says:

    And by the way, a 53% Und or 4.9% MoE does not make this poll questionable – these trends are very close to existing trends. Also, sample size of 600-800 is good for statewide. Those excuses are not going to rationalize this poll for Reed folks.

  31. George Allen 08 says:

    Of course a poll saying Cagle is leading is good the Cagle campaign. I’m just pointing out that the posters on here who say Cagle “has the election locked up” (Demonbeck) due to this one poll are smoking something.

  32. George Allen 08 says:

    It absolutely makes this poll questionable! Especially when the firm doesn’t even publish the questions!

  33. SouthernConservative says:

    Here we have a poll: adds 20 something odd % to the undecided demographic from the last poll; moves an underdog candidate up 10 or so % from the last poll; we don’t know the sample size; the final split is within the margin of error; we don’t know what the questions are, and the poll was done by a firm we know to have made errors at least ONCE in the past.

    It’s questionable, at least unless we see more information that says otherwise.

  34. The Busdriver says:

    Casey’s numbers will go even higher once the good people of Warner Robbins get the Internets! Then they’ll be able to read all about Ralph and his past dealings, and his one safe haven, the one place he keeps going back to, will shut its doors to him.

  35. George Allen 08 says:

    Despite McLaughlin’s credibility, I will not take this poll seriously until the questions and exact sample size are published.

  36. Demonbeck says:

    I must have missed where Reed’s poll questions and numbers were publicized. Maybe someone could repost them for us on here.

    George A08,

    I never said Cagle had this election locked up. I said that this poll tells us that if Cagle ups his name rec., he’ll have this election locked up. There is a big difference.

  37. GAWire says:


    I will actually agree with you that most studies the questions should be released. I don’t think it hurts the campaign or the researchers to release that. However, there is nothing that says they need to, and only a few people would ever think to ask for the questions, or even the sample information or MoE for that matter. Polls are powerful, and the less the public knows to ask, the more affect they have. This sounds a little unacademic, and perhaps it is, but it is a fact of politics – never give up anything unless you have to.

    I also agree that this poll says nothing of the kind that Cagle has this locked up. In fact it is just the opposite – this poll says to me that this race is a dead heat horserace, which is good b/c previous polls showed a considerable advantage for Ralph; however, these numbers show otherwise, which is good. Still, doesn’t leave any room to sit back and relax for Casey. In fact, this says that Casey should work twice as hard for a few more months, and it will pay off – twice as hard, twice as fast, twice as efficient, etc.

    Also, this puts Casey in the advantage and it is still early out. Politics is weird in that the underdog can have a distinct advantage many times. Either way, I don’t really think that Casey has a 10 pt lead, or whatever it was. I do, however, think that the Undecideds are very high, b/c they have come from the RR collumn and those folks are questionable.

    One other thing this poll tells me: turnout will be lower than most think. Just watch. Many of those U’s will stay home b/c they know they don’t want to vote for Ralph, but aren’t totally sure they will vote for CC in the Primary. Now, when the General comes around, they will turnout with bells on, but some of the undecided sentiment might keep some voters home in July.

    That’s a lot, but bottom line is that Casey is growing in popularity and support and name ID, while Ralph’s name ID is evidently negative, ultimately taking away from his support.

  38. landman says:

    The poll is accurate to what is really going on in this race,is it locked up for Cagle no, but the trends for Cagle are very positive as opposed to Reed’s.Cagle has been working his plan and it is clearly showing dividends,as more and more people meet him they like what they see and start helping.

    There has been alot said about Ralph on this blog and much of it is true,but one thing RR isnt and that is STUPID,and he knows he is in trouble.With his name ID he should be up by 15-20 pts and it hasnt happened.He also knows those undecideds will go Cagles way,its all in the numbers and like it or not they are lining up for Cagle.

  39. jackson says:

    “The poll is crap. Find out what the questions were. ” Funniest line of the day. While I dont respond to Debbie, I think it is funny they dont like the poll…but they want to see the questions, anyway. Hilarious.

    Frankly, I love to see you GA08 arguing for the Strategic Vision poll. Frankly, both are good for Casey Cagle and bad for Ralph Reed. Frankly, I see no reason why this McGlaughlin guy would lie…especially since he was a pollster for, you guessed it, GEORGE ALLEN.

    I checked out the guys’ site online. He has a lot of big name clients. Erick is right about him. I dont think he woudl sell his reputation just to win a race, unlike the consultant for Skandalakis…who was that again?

  40. debbie0040 says:

    Push polls are not accurate and there is a reson the questions asked are not being publicized. The questions were very derogatory of Reed and slanted.

    There is not good news in the polls for “cave in” Cagle. With the polling question obviously slanted, look at the undecided. With all the negative publicity Reed has received and with the slanted questions those voters still have not gone over to the Cagle cabal.

    You guys go ahead and celebrate a push poll as being accurate. On July 18th, you are not going to have anything to celebrate…

    landman, you should lay off crack. It has destroyed what little brain cells you have. Those undecideds will go Ralph’s way. The ads have not started yet and it will be a higher voter turnout than expected.

    The questions do matter in polling.

  41. landman says:

    Debbie,your political logic is about as mature as your personal insults.Grow up and quit sounding dumb as a rock!!!

  42. SouthernConservative says:

    I’ve never touted a Reed poll on here or anywhere else…has anyone?

    Reed hasn’t done a poll yet, has he?

  43. jackson says:

    Yeah, can we get Debbie off of here? I mean, I dont care if someone likes Ralph Reed or not, but seriously, all she does is personally insult people. Its getting annoying.

  44. Bull Moose says:

    Casey Cagle is without a doubt the best qualified candidate for the office of Lt. Governor. He has the experience, personal integrity, and drive needed to help lead our state.

    Casey’s leadership will be a breath of fresh air in Atlanta. It will be refreshing to have an honest and ethical man lead the good men and women who serve in our State Legislature.

    Casey’s leadership will also be good for the economics of Georgia. Casey wants to be the job recruiter for all of Georgia and that’s good news for all of our communities.

    Another beneficiary of Casey’s leadership will be our school children. Casey understands that the one size fits all solutions put forth by Atlanta just won’t work anymore.

    It only takes meeting Casey once to truly understand that he is genuine and sincere about serving our state and making a positive difference.

  45. McCain-Rice\'08 says:

    The momentum has been building for months, but we still have to fight like crazy til July and beyond. If you would have asked me in December 2004 what I thought of Casey Cagle..Id say Casey who?? and then if you would have told me who he was running against..Id have said “not a chance”. But he has build a hard working team and has been campaigning all through the state…and on the night of July 18th, the nation..ecspecially the Democrats will be in shock at who we chose to be the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor…and the Reed team will be in utter disbelief.

  46. George Allen 08 says:

    Bull Moose – are you a Cagle staffer or did you just copy and paste that from a mailer? What did that post have to do with the McLaughlin poll?

    Jackson – I never argued FOR the strategic vision poll, I pointed out the difference in the results (“How does McLaughlin find 53 percent undecided and Strategic Vision find 22 percent undecided?”), and that Strategic Vision had a smaller margin of error and a larger sample size. And how is the Strategic Vision poll good for Cagle again? It shows him down by six points, and actually shows Ralph Reed with a HIGHER favorability rating than Casey Cagle, though a much higher unfavorability rating as well. In addition, I have a great deal of respect for McLaughlin & Associates, but these facts make me doubt the ligitimacy of this one particular poll: 1) The wording of the questions were not released; 2) There was no sample size for the poll, but a high margin of error meaning it was fairly small; 3) The number of undecideds were unusually high; and 4) The poll was commissioned by Senator Cagle.

    Landman – I’m having a hard time following some of your logic…Explain why you and Ralph Reed know that the undecideds are going Cagle’s way.

    GAWire – I’m glad we agree that these types of polls should release the questions in the exact wording used in the poll. Unfortunately, the average American doesn’t have a clue what margins of error mean or how polls can change depending on the wording. I also agree that turnout is going to be very, very low for the Republican primary. No (realistic) governor race. No (realistic) Congressional races. No Senate race. And no gay marriage amendment in the primary. The fact is that most people could care less about the Lt Governor, Secretary of State, Ag Commissioner, etc. You’re right that the majority of those undecideds will stay home on July 18th.

    Once again, what is the harm in releasing the questions used in this McLaughlin poll?

  47. McCain-Rice\'08 says:

    Now if the reverse were true, Im sure you wouldnt hear the Reed Supporters talk ill of the Margin of error, or the questions…nothing to them is true unless Ralph Reed is winning by a land-slide…this will make them all the more suprised come July Reed supporters better get ready to eat those words! 🙂

  48. George Allen 08 says:

    Well of course I’m going to point out flaws in the polling if it hurts the candidate I support. I’d expect the Cagle folks to do the exact same.

    And I’m a Ralph Reed supporter who admits that this is a tight race.

  49. Maurice Atkinson says:

    Good Lord, Debbie, GA/08, SC and whoever else questions the validity of the poll. Attempt to think rationally.

    Of course Cagle is going to conduct a poll, as I am certain Ralph has done. Ralph hasn’t released his because it certainly would be damning. It idealistic to believe that 12 months of negative press and senate inquiries are not going to have a dramatic negative effect on any organization.

    My hunch is that July will not be tremendously close. People are looking for someone they can believe in and will do their best for this state.

    People are tired of scandal and want to elect people who are straight up. I’m quite satisfied that Casey is that type of person. He’s surrounded himself with hard working people who are not condescending or arrogant. In my opinion, this is the best organized and effective campaign I’ve ever seen.

  50. Bull Moose says:

    I want to add my two cents of AMEN Maurice.

    I think that voters are plain fead up with spin, corruption, ethical lapses, and lying.

    I think they want someone who is going to be a straight talking, no nonsense leader — someone who can get things done from day one.

    You must admit, Casey fits that bill pretty well.

    As for his opponent, I have no respect for him and I’m to the point where I question the judgement of those that are continuing to support him.

  51. Jimbo says:

    landman, Jackson, you are hypocrites talking about Debbie’s insults. What do you think you guys and other Cagle supporters do to her? You have a more indirect way to insult someone but you still dish out insults. Debbie is more direct and cuts through the bullshit. You can dish out insults but can’t handle it when someone reciprocates. You need to grow up. Jackson, you, Larry and Demonbeck are the main ones hurling insults.

    Anyone that says the questions do not matter are damn fools. The questions DO matter.

    The poll is not good for Cagle. With the slanted questions, look at the undecideds. Those are waiting to see what happens with Reed. They will break to Reed.

    You guys are supporting a losing campaign.

    Maurice, I agree the primary will not be close. Reed will win by a huge margin.

    “I think that voters are plain fead up with spin, corruption, ethical lapses, and lying.” Bullmoose, that describes the Cagle campaign to a t.

    I am disappointed to see Stephens go negative with Handel. I like Karen and the negative attacks will end up hurting Stephens.

    It looks likes the State Senators are going for a power consolidation with the State Senate fielding so many candidates. And Schafer/landman is conducting this power play. I am not supporting any Senators in statewide races. I probably won’t even vote for my Senator. In November, I just will not vote on the State Senate race. Can’t bring myself voting for the Repub or the Dem.

  52. larry smith says:


    You’re making yourselves look stupid by attacking the validity of the poll. McLaughlin is one of the top five GOP pollsters in the nation. Being credible is how he makes his living. He’s not going to publicly stand behind bad numbers for Casey and anyone else.

    If you want to argue that with 50% undecideds, Ralph still has room to win in theory, fine, I’ll buy that. But, quit rambling on about sampling procedures, question ordering, confidence intervals, and a bunch of other stuff you grasp only vaguely. The poll’s as accurate as one can be. Live with it.

  53. Maurice Atkinson says:

    Jimbo, the trends say much different. However, we can agree on Karen Handel. She’s sharp and knows her business. She’ll be a fantastic Secretary of State.

  54. Jimbo says:

    Larry, Maurice, if the poll was scientific and valid then why have the questions not been released or other sampling data? This poll was contrived to make Cagle look like he is ahead in the polls and he is not. It is an attempt by Cagle to deceive the voters.

  55. larry smith says:

    Hmmm, Jimbo, let’s think about that for a second …


    Last time I checked, campaigns weren’t in the business of paying for information and then handing it to the other side.

    But, since you’re so smart, tell us what kind of sampling procedure you think yields the best GOP primary vote projections? RDD from the voter file? Stratified? Post-response weighted?

    I mean, you most know, right … since you’re such an expert on sampling and all.

  56. Maurice Atkinson says:

    Jimbo, you’re wrong. Why would a campaign spend thousands of dollars to puff a poll? Campaigns poll to know where their strengths and weaknesses are to be able to campaign more effectively.

    There’s nothing conspiratorial about this. And why wouldn’t he release positive results? He sure as heck ain’t going to release results that are critical of him.

    This really isn’t much of a story other than to say the trends are going his way. And, that is obvious.

  57. Bill Simon says:


    Regarding your comment that the Cagle campaign is “the best organized and effective campaign I’ve ever seen,” well it might be the best you’ve ever seen OR, it may be the best you’ve ever paid attention to before a primary came along and washed-out the campaign you were following…(ahem) (ahem)…like the way the Isakson campaign sent a tsunami of county organization and non-arrogant people to swamp Herman Cain and Mac Collins in 2004. 🙂

  58. George Allen 08 says:

    By the way, I was off in my estimation that the poll was at 600 voters. A Cagle email just claimed it had only 400.

  59. larry smith says:


    Either you don’t know much about polling, or you’re aware that 400 interviews is a solid sample size for a statewide race in GA.

  60. Bill Simon says:

    According to my college stat class, you could conceivably poll a sample as small as 32 people and get the same results if you know what you’re really doing with scientifically picking populations to sample.

    Of course, the margin of error might be on the order of +/- 25%, but who cares about margin of error?



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