Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Pawlenty campaign keeps lowering expectations

Tim Pawlenty's spokesman, Alex Conant, tells Katrino Trinko:

“We want to show progress in Ames, [do] better than sixth or seventh.”

This is the latest from the campaign in trying to create the impression that a 3rd or 4th place finish in the straw poll would constitute a victory.

Campaign manager, Nick Ayers, wrote his staff last week:

"In four weeks, we will compete in the Ames Straw Poll.

.... We were in 5th or 6th place a few weeks ago depending on the poll, and the Straw Poll is an important opportunity for us to show progress, which we will do."

And Tim Pawlenty himself set a remarkably low bar a few weeks ago.

"The Des Moines Register poll, which is a credible poll in Iowa, had us like in 6th or 7th place.

Now the preseason's over, and we've got to start showing progress."

There are two problems with this.

1. The campaign is referring to Iowa caucus polls; not Ames, Iowa straw polls.

That's an inaccurate conflation.

Pawlenty is expected to do better in the straw poll, because fewer candidates are competing in it. But by using his Iowa caucus polling numbers as his "starting point", he's able to show more progress if he performs well in the straw poll.

2. The campaign is still wielding misleading polls in its attempt to lower expectations.

Pawlenty does, indeed, poll sixth or seventh nationally, but Iowa polls have most recently had him at #3 (here and here).

And again -- by starting at an artificially low point, the campaign is trying to spin a 2nd, 3rd. or 4th place finish as a game-changing rise from the ashes.