, Gloucester, MA

May 17, 2012

Tierney-Tisei polls as divided as candidates

By Jesse Roman
Staff writer

"There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics," according to the late British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli.

Fibbing aside, both camps in the 6th District congressional race appear to be telling their own version of the truth — internal polling from each campaign reveals opposing views on how the race is shaping up between Republican challenger Richard Tisei and incumbent Democrat John Tierney.

Tisei's poll, conducted May 2 and 3 and commissioned in part by the National Republican Congressional Committee, shows the Republican leading Tierney by 7 points — 40 percent to 33 percent among likely voters.

The Tierney poll, conducted Jan. 23 to 25 by pollster Jefrey Pollock, has the Democrat winning by 15 points — 46 percent to 31 percent.

Both sides were skeptical of the other's data and confident about their own.

Tisei's camp said Tierney's data are old, noting that Republican Bill Hudak was still in the race during part of the Democratic polling. Hudak dropped out Jan. 23.

Tierney's camp, however, said the GOP poll "has a double-digit Republican bias," noting that the same poll showed U.S. Sen. Scott Brown with "an implausible 24-point lead" over Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren. Statewide, the two are seen as virtually tied.

In fact, the GOP poll does have elevated Republican representation, GOP poll author John McLaughlin said in an email to the Times' sister paper, The Salem News. The actual makeup of registered voters in the district is 13 percent Republican, 30 percent Democrat and 57 percent independent. But their poll respondents were 22 percent Republican, 29 percent Democrat and 49 percent independent.

He contends Tierney is "still losing," however, because independents are underrepresented and Tierney doesn't fare as well with them.

The Democratic poll did accurately reflect the current voter registration of the district, Pollock said.

Both polls have a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.

Tisei's camp released its internal polling numbers Tuesday, prompting Tierney to release the result of his early polling at the request of reporters.

"We're up 15 points in our own poll, but at the same time we're not particularly focused on polls," said Matt Robison, Tierney's campaign manager. "This election is a choice between John Tierney's consistent record of fighting for the middle class and Richard Tisei's embrace of the right-wing Republican Congress and everything that goes along with it."

Moore, Tisei's campaign manager, also couldn't resist the chance to throw stones at the opponent.

"In their own poll, (Tierney) is polling under 50 percent. When you've been in Congress 16 years and looking at that number, that's not so good," Moore said.

But there is some cause for concern for Tisei in the Republicans' own poll: name recognition.

Two-thirds of the people the GOP surveyed had never heard of Tisei.

Of those, 34.5 percent had no opinion of him — in other words, he's a blank slate for the majority of voters.

Not to worry, Moore said. "It tells us there is tremendous opportunity ahead, because when people have heard of (Tisei), they really like him."

Jesse Roman may be contacted at