Republican mayoral candidate John Lassiter found some good news in a recent poll. But how good was it?
Cornerstone Solutions, a Raleigh-based polling firm, found that Lassiter leads Democrat Anthony Foxx, 42 percent to 26 percent, with 32 percent undecided. The findings are based on an automated phone survey of 401 Charlotteans.
A poll for Foxx, meanwhile, shows the race a dead heat.
Rule number 1: Be wary of polls done by a campaign for their candidate. Rule number 2: Be wary of all political polls, especially without several to go by and compare.
Cornerstone is a Republican consulting firm that also does polling. "We have no horse in this race," says partner Chris Sinclair of Raleigh.
Foxx campaign manager Bruce Clark questions Cornerstone's methodology. For example, while 34 percent of Charlotte voters are black, less than 14 percent of those in the Cornerstone survey identified themselves as African American. Almost 12 percent refused to disclose their race. Black voters are more likely to vote Democratic.
"Our poll," says Clark, "more accurately represents the breakdown of voters in the city."
Sinclair stands by his sample. He says part of the discrepancy could lie with those who refused to answer the race question. And he says his statisticians weighted the results based on the number of registered voters.
"We weighted it appropriately and feel good about the outcomes," he says.
One advantage of sites like realclearpolitics.com is that they present a number of polls on the same race over time, showing patterns.
MAYORAL FORUM TUESDAY
Foxx and Lassiter will talk about their views of uotown Tuesday night at the Third Ward neighborhood meeting at the Gateway YMCA, 900 W. Trade St. It starts at 7 p.m.