We've highlighted (over and over) the ethics crisis Fox News has brought upon itself by allowing Karl Rove to both serve at the network's "political analyst" and promote and advise American Crossroads, the $50 million GOP campaign slush fund that is serving as a sort of shadow Republican National Committee. Under these circumstances, it's impossible to tell where his analysis ends and his candidate advocacy begins.
Today, for example, Sean Hannity hosted Rove to discuss a poll of U.S. Senate races conducted for American Crossroads. Presumably, American Crossroads didn't release the poll to the public to aid in public knowledge of the political landscape -- they did it to push their preferred talking points and strategy and raise the profile of their organization.
On Hannity, Rove discussed how the poll shows that in a composite of 13 swing Senate seats, "Republicans have a lead in the generic ballot of seven points." He did not, of course, note that the poll has been widely panned, with Politico reporting that its methodological weakness rendered it "effectively meaningless."
That's right. In an article on the poll, Politico reported:
The Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies conducted the poll, testing 1,300 likely voters across the 13 states, for a small state-by-state sample of 100 respondents. That means that for the individual races, the survey's margin of error is so wide as to render the results effectively meaningless.
Slate's David Weigel also criticized the poll:
Does anyone buy this? An "average" poll number across states with Senate races is not worthless, but it's close. In Delaware, Arkansas, and Indiana, Republican candidates have better than double-digit leads over the Democrats. In Florida, Democratic candidates Kendrick Meek and Jeff Greene are basically also-rans, as Democrats gravitate to independent candidate Charlie Crist. So you've got one 25-point lead (I'm guessing, based on other polls in Florida) warping the first five results, and three leads of 10 to 20 points warping the other eight results. If we had all the numbers we'd confirm what we already know -- that Republicans can waltz into three (four, if you add North Dakota) open Democratic seats, but that the other 10 competitive Senate races are toss-ups. The poll averaging on messaging is more interesting, as all but three of these states voted for the Obama-Biden ticket. But the purpose of the poll is to take something that political junkies think -- that sometimes, every close race breaks the challenger party's way -- and make it look like science.