The Pechanga California Online Poker Push Poll, Part II: Intentional Oversample
FlushDraw returns today to the topic of the smearing and obstructionist “push poll” conducted on behalf of the Pechanga / Agua Caliente-led coalition, which claims to show, among other misleading claims, that a majority of Californian respondents are against the legalization of online poker in the state.
That claim is rendered even more suspect by the three-page summary of the survey’s results, which were assembled by the LA-based public-opinion research firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3) after being commissioned by the Pechanga group. The complete summary, which has now been obtained by FlushDraw, shows that FM3 may have doctored its own methodology in an attempt to provide the anti-online-poker result that the obstructionist Pechanga group desired.
At issue is a key “oversample” added by FM3’s survey orchestrators to the original findings. Quoting directly from the FM3 topline:
“FM3 conducted a telephone survey of a random sample of 855 likely November 2016 voters in California over a five-day period, June 2-6, 2016, and an oversample of 350 Central Valley voters for a total sample of 1,205. The survey interview took 21.7 minutes on average to complete. The questionnaire was translated into Spanish.”
Reasons for conducting an oversample can vary, but among the most common is to expand a survey response pool by adding in a slab of respondents who are more likely than a typical respondent to provide the desired viewpoint.
Two factors indicate that this was intentional. The added 350 responses came from California’s Central Valley, which also happens to be the home of the Table Mountain Rancheria Casino, north of Fresno; the Table Mountain Rancheria has also officially joined the Pechanga-led coalition in the last week.
The second factor is that survey was also tainted by the inclusion of a previous statement made by one of California’s two US Senators, Dianne Feinstein, on the topic of online poker in California. Feinstein is from the Bay Area, and has always polled strongly in the Central Valley. The quote from Feinstein is the only direct excerpt from the script that has found its way into public view as yet, courtesy of this update, and its skew is blatant. Quoting again from the FM3 overview:
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s opposition to online poker resonates with voters
Sixty-one percent of California voters are more inclined to oppose online poker legislation when they hear that “U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein strongly opposes legislation authorizing online poker in California, saying the FBI has concluded that online casinos are vulnerable to a wide array of criminal schemes including money laundering by transnational organized crime groups.”
Feinstein was a co-sponsor of US Sen. Lindsey Graham’s widely-reviled “Restoration of America’s Wire Act” bill, which was founded by Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corporation. The also-funded-by-Adelson mouthpiece group Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling [CSIG] has prominently featured Feinstein’s statements in the past, and a CSIG representative joined with representatives of the Pechanga coalition in offering statements of opposition to AB 2863 before Wednesday’s Appropriations Committee approval vote.
Adelson, Las Vegas Sands, and the CSIG group were also involved in the production of a similarly misleading push poll in Pennsylvania in May of 2015, in an attempt to scuttle that state’s consideration of its own online-gambling legislation.
The FM3 overview regarding the suspect California study also contains one other “finding” not included in the orchestrated-distribution media reports published to date: The findings also include a question possibly designed to cast aspersions on the inclusion of the state’s existing pari-mutuel industry in any future California online-gambling market. A statement that any such legislation should “Provide funding for the horse racing industry, thereby helping protect thousands of jobs for a struggling industry” was mildly disapproved by respondents, by 45% to 43%.
Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates did not respond to an inquiry earlier in the week regarding the study’s methodology. We’ll have more on the suspect FM3 study as information warrants.