Update on the anti-Mitt, anti-Mormon poll calls

TPM Muckraker scoops that Mitt’s team referred curious reporters to two Romney supporters who received the calls — without mentioning that they’re both also paid employees of the campaign. That’s a mistake, but absent any claim that they exaggerated what the pollster said the error would appear to be harmless. Jonathan Martin, who broke the poll story at Politico, says neither of his two sources are Romney supporters and at least one of them confirmed questions about “baptizing the dead, the Book of Mormon being on the level of the Bible, and one about equating it to a cult.” So it’s not just Mitt’s people from whom this is coming.

That said, this brings to three the number of people connected to the campaign who received calls. Ralph Watts, an Iowa state rep who works for Romney in the state, was the third. His affiliation with the campaign was publicly known, as was the affiliation of Marshan Roth and Rose Kramer, the subjects of the TPM report, to anyone who bothered to check the campaign’s FEC statement of disbursements. It stands to reason, with Romney leading in Iowa, that a pollster conducting a random survey of voters would stumble upon some Mitt supporters. It may also be that they wanted to stumble upon some Mitt supporters, to test how firm their support for Romney was when faced with criticisms of Mormonism. But like I said in my earlier post, it seems hard to believe that the pollster would stumble upon known campaign employees: there can’t be all that many of them in the state and even if there were, wouldn’t the group responsible for the poll want to specifically avoid calling them since their support for Mitt is likely rock solid and they’d be more apt to run to the press to tell them about the scummy questions being asked? Am I wrong? I know next to nothing about how these polls are typically conducted so it may be my assumptions are totally off.

Update: Mark Blumenthal thinks it’s much ado about nothing.

[W]e ought to think about the implications of the size of the sampled universe and the cooperation rate that pollsters are currently receiving from Iowa voters. Consider that the all time high Republican caucus turnout was little over one hundred thousand. Past caucus goers on the lists are the most active and committed Republicans in Iowa. Consider also that nearly every campaign and many different pollsters have been calling into Iowa in recent weeks, and that is on top of automated recorded calls placed by each campaign. Given that the best of surveys conducted under the best of conditions get response rates in the 20 to 30 percent range, and assuming that native campaign staffers and activists are probably the most likely to cooperate, the odds of getting a disproportionate number in the sample seems likely. The point here is simply that the odds of including a half dozen or so active Romney supporters (and even a paid staffer or two) in a sample of 600 or so Iowa Republicans do not seem terribly long to me.