Colorado media uncritically reported Allard talking point about Time poll naming him one of worst senators, ignored SurveyUSA poll of Coloradans saying same thing

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In their coverage of Republican U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard's decision not to seek a third term, some Colorado media outlets dismissed a Time magazine report that Allard was among the worst U.S. senators by suggesting the magazine had "left-leaning" sympathies or by uncritically reporting comments from Allard's spokesman. The media outlets ignored a SurveyUSA poll of Coloradans that found Allard had the lowest approval rating of any senator.

In a January 16 editorial lauding U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO), The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction dismissed Time magazine's April 2006 assessment that Allard is one of the five worst U.S. senators as being a result of the magazine's "presumptive sympathy for [] sharply left-leaning politics." Similarly, in January 16 news stories, reporters M.E. Sprengelmeyer and Chris Barge of the Rocky Mountain News and Steven K. Paulson of the Associated Press quoted Allard's chief of staff, Sean Conway, calling Time's assessment "laughable" and criticizing it as "more like a popularity poll," respectively. None of the three outlets mentioned that in statewide polls SurveyUSA conducted last July, Allard's approval rating of 36 percent was the lowest of any U.S. senator. In the polls' subsequent monthly iterations Allard's approval never rose above November's 44 percent, which corresponded with a ranking of 92 out of 100 senators.

Coverage of Allard's tenure in Congress came in the wake of his January 15 announcement that he will not seek re-election to a third term in 2008.

In an assessment of Allard's record published in the April 24, 2006, edition of Time (an online version appeared April 14), the magazine noted that "Allard almost never plays a role in major legislation, even though he's on two key Senate committees, Budget and Appropriations." Time continued "Allard almost never plays a role in major legislation, even though he's on two key Senate committees, Budget and Appropriations." Time continued:

Few of the bills he has introduced over the past year have passed; in fact, since Colorado Democrat Ken Salazar entered the Senate last year, Salazar's legislative output has dwarfed Allard's, even though Allard has the advantages of seniority and of being a Republican in a G.O.P.-dominated Congress.

According to the Daily Sentinel, "No doubt Time's antipathy toward Allard had much to do with the Fort Collins Republican being a fairly reliable vote in support of the Bush administration as well as being a sturdy traditionalist on the culture war front."

But the Daily Sentinel, as well as the News and the AP, failed to note Allard's Colorado constituents also gave him low approval ratings last year. As noted by the online news site Colorado Confidential, the July 25, 2006, SurveyUSA poll of Coloradans found that Allard's 36 percent approval rating was the lowest in the Senate. Like the July 2006 poll, SurveyUSA's most recent poll -- conducted from November 8 to November 11 -- interviewed "600 adults age 18+ in each of the 50 states". The poll for Colorado, released November 22, reported that Allard's approval rating was 44 percent, or 92nd in the 100-member Senate. In the November poll, Allard's "net approval" rating -- the difference between the percentage of respondents who said they "approve" of the senator and those who said they "disapprove" -- of one percentage point ranked 89th in the Senate.

From the editorial "Allard's leavetaking," in the January 16 edition of The Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction:

A Fort Collins veterinarian, Allard represented a sharp contrast to some of his more illustrious Colorado predecessors in the Senate -- namely, the high-profile likes of Gary Hart, Tim Wirth and even, to some extent, his fellow Republican, Bill Armstrong.

National media publications like Time magazine, with their presumptive sympathy for the sharply left-leaning politics of a Gary Hart or Tim Wirth, were not above disparaging Allard as one of the Senate's least effective members. No doubt Time's antipathy toward Allard had much to do with the Fort Collins Republican being a fairly reliable vote in support of the Bush administration as well as being a sturdy traditionalist on the culture war front.

Allard's longtime staffers would never attempt to characterize their boss as someone who ever aspired to be among the nation's political glitterati, often choosing instead to describe Allard -- quite accurately, by the way -- as a "work horse, not a show horse."

From M.E. Sprengelmeyer's and Chris Barge's article, "Senate free-for-all," in the January 16 edition of the Rocky Mountain News:

Allies like to say Allard has been a "work horse" rather than a "show horse" in Congress.

"He really has served Colorado with distinction," said [former Colorado Gov. Bill] Owens. "There's something to be said for someone who stays in touch with all 64 counties in the state and does his job day in and day out."

Still, Time magazine in 2005 dubbed Allard "The Invisible Man" and one of the five "worst" U.S. senators.

Longtime Allard chief of staff Sean Conway dismissed the ranking as "laughable," citing the senator's accomplishments, including cutting years off the schedule for the cleanup of the former nuclear weapons plant at Rocky Flats; defending the state's military installations from base closings; and spearheading the investigation into sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy.

From Steven K. Paulson's January 16 Associated Press article, "Colorado Sen. Allard Won't Seek 3rd Term":

Allard's political strength came into question in 2006 when Time magazine ranked him as one of the five worst U.S. senators.

Allard's chief of staff, Sean Conway, criticized the Time ranking as "more like a popularity poll" and said it was based mostly on opinion.

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