Kansas GOP Insider (wannabe)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Poll Finds Tight Race for Mary Pilcher-Cook Seat

Public Policy Polling did some polling for Democratic candidate Vicki Hiatt and determined that Hiatt has a 3 point lead against Kansas State Sen. Mary Pilcher-Cook. Many people are calling the Senate District 10 race a "battleground."

Hiatt and the Twitter trolls are touting the poll as some sort of bright light. The poll revealed that 43 percent of respondents said they plan to vote for Hiatt to Pilcher-Cook's 40 percent. Seventeen percent of the respondents were undecided --17--with less than three months to election day. The margin of error was 4.4 percent.

I may be weird, but this poll doesn't trouble me and here's why:

Public Policy Polling's Record

Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight actually reports that PPP has been accurate in 82 percent of the 383 races its predicted in 2016.  Good enough for a B-plus in Silver's gradebook.

That said, since 2008, the polling outfit's numbers have missed the voting margin of error 5.2 percent. This means while its prediction may have been accurate 82 percent of the time, the prediction was wrong by about 5 points. 

Public Policy Polling's Bias

This polling outfit's most egregious example is a 2015 poll in which the pollsters asked both Democrat and Republican voters if they supported bombing Agrabah. Of course, the left-leaning pollsters tweeted out later that "30 percent of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin. #NottheOnion." 

What they didn't tell people is the 20 percent of Democrats polled said the EXACT same thing--they supported bombing Agrabah. It should be noted that Republicans were asked this question after hearing eight questions about terrorism, while Dems were asked this question without those terrorism-related questions preceding it. 

PPP later admitted that it decided to use the "gotcha" question after getting the idea from Twitter trolls. The question is an example of confirmation bias. PPP believes Republicans are dumb and viscous and went out of its way to attempt to craft data to support the assumption. Despite Democrats answering the same question in similar fashion--even without being led to make the connection between terrorism and Agrabah--PPP made tweets and headlines about Republicans' response, virtually ignoring the Dems' similar answers.

It's difficult to take PPP seriously. The polling outfit may not be the Onion, but the fact that they admit getting questions from Twitter trolls suggests otherwise.

The Undecideds

Mary Pilcher-Cook won her last election in 2012 by 58 percent. That's a pretty big margin of victory. She admittedly had some tail winds, but those tail winds give her a bit of a cushion. Those 17 percent may need a little encouragement, and I think Pilcher-Cook will work hard to get those folks to break in her direction. Many likely will anyway. A whole lot of voters are going to look at the ballot and realize their choice is between a Democrat and a Republican. My money is on a whole lot of those Kansans choosing the Republican.

The Margin of Error

The point spread is within the margin of error. The only reason to release this polling information is to attempt to create a narrative that your candidate is winning to depress turnout on the other side and to rally your own voters to get in there because it's close. I realize those two things seem at odds. They're not. This is psychological warfare, and politicians use polls for more than just gauging public support. In this instance, I think Hiatt is hoping to capitalize on the perceived lead in order to raise money. 

The Trump Numbers

Somehow a greater percentage of respondents voiced their support for Donald Trump than for Pilcher-Cook. That extra 2 percent of voters is highly unlikely to cast a ballot for Hiatt. According to the poll, 45 percent of respondents said they'll vote for Trump, compared to 39 percent of respondents who said they'll vote for Hillary Clinton. 

Hiatt's Favorables

Hiatt is an unknown. In this cycle, that may work to her advantage in some ways. According to the survey, 12 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Hiatt, and 79 percent were undecided. Human nature says when people are undecided they are far more likely to dance with the devil they know than with the one they don't. 


This isn't included in the poll, but it's fairly important to note. Hiatt's favorables show she has a high mountain to climb. That requires cash, and Hiatt simply didn't have enough of it at the filing deadline. At the end of July, Hiatt had a little less than $11,000 on hand. Pilcher-Cook, on the other hand, had a little less than $56,000.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ethics Complaint Filed against Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint against Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol Beier with the Kansas Commission of Judicial Qualifications. 

The complaint alleges that Beier breached the Code of Judicial Conduct by hosting a political fundraiser at her home for former gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis in 2014. The Judicial Code of Conduct requires that Justices "act at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and avoid the impropriety and the appearance of impropriety."

Technically, the Davis fundraiser at the Beier house was hosted by Carol's husband. However, in a 1990 ethics opinion, in which the commission debated whether a meet-the-governor campaign fundraiser could be held at the jointly owned home of a judge's spouse the commission explained that even though the judge in question was to have no involvement in the event, it "may well be viewed by the general public as a political endorsement by the judge himself of a candidate for public office.... Public confidence in the independence and impartiality of the judiciary is eroded if judges or judicial candidates are perceived to be subject to political influence."

I lost confidence in the circus known as the Kansas Supreme Court about the time the justices (laughably) threatened to board up the schools unless the Kansas Legislature handed over more funding so Wichita homeowners could have a tax break.

I think Wichita citizens lost confidence in members of the Kansas Supreme Court about the time the Justices overturned the death sentences of the Carr brothers. Confidence in members of the Kansas Supreme Court was further eroded when the U.S. Supreme Court slapped the justices in a scathing 8-1 opinion ruling the state Supreme Court was way, way out-of-line in overturning the penalty. 

The good news is Kansans have a remedy to fix the clown show known as the Kansas Supreme Court. Five justices, including Beier, will be up for retention votes this fall. Voters should carefully consider whether a justice who shows such a lapse in judgement as to host a political fundraiser at her home has the judgement required to sit on Kansas' highest court.

Only one justice up for retention should be saved, Caleb Stegall. Let's keep this man of integrity and send the other four packing. 

By the way, it's interesting that media in the state is covering this potential ethics violation by Beier as a brief on the inside back page of nowhere in newspaper pages. You just KNOW that if the judge in question was Stegall, it would be plastered all over page one above the fold.

But Beier is a liberal favorite, happy to be the handmaiden to political corruption, so the story only warrants on tiny mention on the inside pages. Kansas media, for the love of all things holy, it's time to do your jobs and cover both sides equally. Every time any popsicle stand of a group files a complaint against Kris Kobach, there are front page stories, and bitter editorials, but this Justice has a very valid complaint filed and it's ho-hum. 

The journalism profession deserves better.This journalistic oversight is egregious, and Kansans deserve better. 

Brownback Derangement Syndrome Rears Its Head

Some days, the liberals go off the rails for no apparent reason at all. Call it a case of Brownback Derangement Syndrome. If you suffer from BDS, please seek medical help. It's a serious illness that can affect your ability to reason and use logic. 

Yesterday, state officials said they are working to overhaul state employee layoff protocol.

Specifically, the changes would allow layoffs to be done based on performance rather than seniority. Cue screaming of the liberals. 

Officials said the effort was designed to bring the state's workforce rules into this century. Of course, the mainstream media reported that it was all an urgent attempt to prepare for restructuring in the face of budget problems, and the Kansas Organization of State Employees signed up to agree with the theory. They worry the changes will hurt employee morale.

Rep. Jim Ward, Dem, tweeted, "Brownback proposes to reverse 50 years of professionalism in state employment. Fraud and incompetence to follow."

This is insanity. This is EXACTLY how most of the private sector operates. And I note, the private sector doesn't have a monopoly. Performance is used to determine who stays and who goes. Is it perfect? Of course not. But there is recourse for those who are wrongfully terminated by those measures.

Laying people off based solely on seniority gives some employees almost absolute job security. There's no motivation to perform well. That's not saying the senior employees won't perform as well as their less experienced peers, but motivation is a tricky thing. Public policy should take human nature into consideration. 

Of course, liberals are worried that the changes will hurt employee morale. I don't know how great employee morale is when lay offs are pending--no matter how the layoffs occur. 

Liberals are always running through the forest banging into the trees. This policy change is a good thing--one that most reasonable people can agree on. It isn't political. The liberals, however, can't separate their hate from Brownback from policy.

Meanwhile, many liberals have a problem with thinning the bureaucratic herd, and so their ire is misdirected at policy. Here's the deal, though: If there isn't enough money, there isn't enough money. I don't think there's a tax increase possible that would ever make the liberals happy, and that's where we're at: Kansans must decide whether they want bureaucrats to live fat and happy, or whether taxpayers should have a few scraps left over at the end of each bill cycle to feed, clothe, and shelter their families.

The legislature will have a large say in the decision. It's not Brownback's alone to make. 

The people calling foul on this one are clearly suffering from BDS. Take a pill, folks.