Topic: The ConWeb
Last week, both CNSNews.com and NewsMax touted a poll conducted by Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ.com, which claims among other things that 77 percent of respondents are either seriously disappointed with Republican Congressional leaders or want them replaced and that 70 percent would support a "principled conservative challenger" running against an "established incumbent Republican" in a 2006 GOP primary.
But one question not answered by any documentation released thus far: How reliable is this poll? ConservativeHQ states only that it was an "on-line poll of 1,028 conservative activists and donors." "Online poll" conjures up images of unreliable, easily gamed opt-in polls; an earlier memo from Viguerie, however, states that the poll was sent to "tens of thousands of conservative donors and grassroots activists around the country."
So, while this poll is likely not as unreliable as an opt-in poll, it is also not as reliable as a regular poll conducted by a polling firm. Only a thousand or so responses from "tens of thousands" sent out is not necessarily representative, since only the most motivated and/or frustrated will take the time to respond to it. The quickness to which conservative outlets such as NewsMax and CNS and Viguerie's history as a conservative organizer and motivator (not to mention the descriptions of "principled conservative challenger" and "established incumbent Republican," which implants the image in the respondent's mind that the incumbent is, by definition, not "principled") also indicate that it's a poll to be taken with at least a small grain of salt.