PoliGraph: Bachmann’s poll claim ignores the numbers

The third quarter of this year’s campaign fundraising cycle ends today, and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is making a last-minute push to make some extra cash.

To grab the attention of potential contributors, Bachmann wrote a fundraising e-mail highlighting a recent poll conducted in Iowa, where she is determined to win the primary.

“As one of my most valued supporters, I wanted to let you in on a secret,” Bachmann wrote in the Sept. 29 note. “Our campaign’s rising poll numbers have not gone unnoticed. The latest Iowa poll has our campaign in second place, just behind Mitt Romney and ahead of Rick Perry.”

Bachmann’s spinning the poll numbers.

The Evidence

Bachmann’s referring to a new poll conducted by the American Research Group (ARG) of 600 likely Republican caucus-goers living in Iowa.

Among the voters surveyed, 15 percent would vote for Bachmann in the caucuses. That’s second to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who has 21 percent support among the same group of people.

But here’s what Bachmann left out of her e-mail: The last time ARG conducted their survey in July, she had 21 percent support and was leading the pack of candidates.

So, Bachmann’s support has actually declined according to this poll.

ARG’s survey is the most recent conducted in Iowa since the end of August, according to Real Clear Politics, a website that houses a range of polling data. Back then, Bachmann was capturing between 15 and 22 percent of the Iowa GOP vote, depending on the poll. So, even compared to other surveys, Bachmann’s support has dipped.

It’s possible that Bachmann is referring to recent national studies, most of which have her polling in the single digits. But those are surveys of voters throughout the country, not in Iowa.

Bachmann also claims that she has more support than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, her biggest rival in the nomination process. It’s true that the ARG poll shows Perry with 14 percent support. But with a margin of error of 4 percentage points, it’s not a statistically significant difference.

The Verdict

Bachmann said her support is growing in Iowa. But compared to the last time the same survey was conducted, her support has declined. It’s the same story when compared to other recent polls conducted in Iowa. Further, she’s not ahead of Perry in the ARG poll; the two are effectively tied for second place.

This claim is misleading to the point of being false.


American Research Group, Iowa Poll, Sept. 22-27, 2011

Real Clear Politics, Polls: Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus, accessed Sept. 30, 2011

Real Clear Politics, Polls: 2012 Republican Presidential Nomination, accessed Sept. 30, 2011

FiveThirtyEight, Perry slumps in polls but not to Romney’s gain, by Nate Silver, Sept. 29, 2011

FiveThirtyEight, ARG my brain hurts, by Nate Silver, July 14, 2011

FiveThirtyEight, Pollster Ratings v4.0: Results, by Nate Silver, June 6, 2011

  • ed of golden valley

    Truth is fungible to Ms. Bachmann.

  • Sue

    Michele lives in her own mind and not in reality.