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My exchange with The Washington Post – Update

23 Sep
Update:  After the weekend she did follow through with the reference to pollsters:

From: Gardner, Amy E
Sent: Sunday, September 21, 2014 11:08 AM
To: Craighill, Peyton M; Clement, Scott F
Subject: Fwd: Why was this forum limited to only 3 incumbent
 or formerly incumbent candidates?
You guys have anything to add to this? I told him I’d 
refer him to our polling folks.

Clement, Scott F <>

10:28 AM (22 hours ago)

to meAmy
Mr. Majors
I’m with the Post’s polling team, who helped conduct the poll 
in collaboration with our NBC and Marist College partners.
 Amy asked me to provide a little background on our practices about asking
 pre-election vote questions and why you were not named in this poll.
To clarify, while you were not explicitly named as a candidate 
in the poll, your name was included in the survey’s programming
 in case a respondent volunteered they support you. In other words, there 
was a “code” interviewers could enter if a respondent said
 “I support Bruce Majors;” there were also volunteer codes for Faith (Green) 
and Nestor Djonkam (Ind) – programming for the question is below. 
This allowed the poll capture when a less well known candidate 
has developed significant voter support.
It also seems that people you spoke with who took a poll were 
participating in a different survey, as all respondents in the 
NBC/Post/Marist poll were called by live interviewers; none were 
asked to press a number corresponding with the candidate they 
supported. The methodology for our poll is here.
There is a natural tension between the desire to name all candidates 
on a ballot and ensuring the question is comprehensible to 
respondents. While naming an extended list of candidates better
 mimics the ballot, naming a long list of candidates burdens
 respondents’ in understanding the question which can undermine 
data quality.
With minor-party candidates, we typically wait until a significant 
share of respondents (at least 3 percent) volunteer their name 
before including them as named candidates in a poll. We did not have a 
previous survey to go by in this instance, but given 0.09 percent
 of voters in D.C. are registered as libertarians we did not anticipate
 enough support to explicitly name you as a candidate. The poll 
showed that one percent of voters volunteered support for
 unnamed candidates.
If November’s election for mayor of the District were held today, 
whom would you support if the candidates are:
Muriel Bowser, the Democrat………………………………………………01
David Catania, an Independent …………………………………………..02
Carol Schwartz, an Independent………………………………………….03
GREEN PARTY CANDIDATE……………………………………………..04
DO NOT READ: UNDECIDED…………………………………………….98
DO NOT READ: OTHER…………………………………………………….97
DO NOT READ: REFUSED………………………………………………..99

Bruce Majors <>

Thanks for that info.

Since your reply below betrays that you may be unaware of other facts,
 I will provide them to you:
1) I ran for office as a Libertarian for Congress in 2012 and received 16,500 
votes or 5.9% in a three way race.  As usual with Libertarians, I spent less 
than a dollar per vote, while the major party incumbent spent $5 per vote.
  In the current mayoral race Catania and Bowser have already spent over
 $10 per vote.  I meet people all the time who tell me they voted for me in 2012.
2) The DC Libertarian Party is the fastest growing party in DC, growing at 
10% a month.  I think the only other category growing in DC are people who
 reject party affiliation.  One could only register as a Libertarian in DC for a 
little over a year, since  March 2013.  My race in 2012 is what earned people 
the legal right to finally do that, and the DC government did not print new 
registration forms until March 2013.  Since then the Libertarian registration 
has grown by 10% or more every month, even while the other parties lost 
60,000 registered voters in June-July 2013 (a story I believe no one 
reported, though it is plainly visible on the Board of Elections website) 
presumably as part of cleaning the voters rolls in advance of the April 
2014 primary.


Bruce Majors <>

You invited only the candidates who have held government posts for years, even
though one or perhaps two of them are so,low in the polls they cannot be elected.

And you excluded anyone from a party other than the Democrats.

Sent from my iPad

Gardner, Amy E <>

Sep 20 (2 days ago)

to me
Mr. Majors–

We certainly didn’t exclude non-Democrats. We included two independents
who are former Republicans.

Our decision was based on polling. It is pretty common to exclude candidates
polling below a certain threshold — 5 percent or 10 percent, say. The three
candidates posted 43, 26 and 16 percent in our poll, respectively. All other
choices registered a total of 1 percent combined.

I hope this helps. Thanks for your interest.


Amy Gardner
Local politics editor
The Washington Post

Sent from my iPad

Bruce Majors <>

You did a poll in which you included me?  You actually offered those
polled other names?  That hasn’t been reported.  Everyone I know who
was polled reports not being given any other options.

In polls I see 15% and up are not picking Catania, Bowser or Schwartz,
even after being given tons of free media and having spent over $4 million.
Did you actually see the polling you are speaking about being done?

Gardner, Amy E

9:54 AM (21 hours ago)

to me
​Yes I have seen the poll. And you’re correct that we didn’t offer
your name. That was an editorial decision based on several factors
including fundraising, campaign activity and name recognition. The
fact that just 1 percent of voters said they wanted to vote for
 anyone other than the three top candidates justifies that decision.
I understand your point that there’s an inherent disadvantage in not
being offered as a choice. But, with all due respect, if yours were a
viable candidacy you would have registered beyond
 these results even without your name in the question rotation.

I’m happy to refer you to our pollsters if you’d like to talk more
about our decision.

Bruce Majors <>

According to your own polls Ms. Schwartz and perhaps Mr. Catania are
not viable candidates.

Sure refer me to your pollsters.  It’s interesting to watch the gatekeepers
 explain themselves. It’s actually something a journalist would cover.
You are basically saying incumbents and people who get early corporate,
union and PAC money will be promoted by major media, and citizen
candidates will not, so that things are locked in place in perpetuity.

Gardner, Amy E

10:11 AM (21 hours ago)

to me
Mr. Majors —

26 and 16 percent are real numbers. They’re longshot numbers,
 but they’re real numbers that make them worth our attention. ​
If you don’t think Schwartz and Catania are viable candidates, how
 on earth do you justify coverage of your campaign?​ You didn’t even
 register in the poll — at all.

However, your view that we are here simply to perpetuate the
status quo in untrue. You may recall that your fellow Libertarian
Robert Sarvis registered in the low double digits last year in the
Virginia governor’s race, and we wrote a front-page story about
 him. We’re ready to cover viable campaigns that are making a
difference. Sarvis was a potential spoiler, as is Schwartz this year.
He registered with voters who were looking for something
other than what McAuliffe or Cuccinelli had to offer. We noticed,
and we wrote about it. With all due respect, your campaign has
had no parallel impact on the race this year.

There is no question the system is stacked against minor-party
 candidates. And we have to make editorial decisions every day
about how to deploy our ever-shrinking resources.  In a perfect
world, would we delve into every single campaign and
candidate? Of course.  But we can’t. And frankly, people wouldn’t
 read it all. I’m sorry it’s not the answer you want to hear. No
one’s trying to “explain themselves.” I’m telling you the truth about
 how we make our decisions.

Thanks for your time.

Bruce Majors

But you just told me you didn’t present me as an option in the poll in
your second reply, after implying that I had been presented in it and just
didn’t show up in your first reply, which you now seem to be reverting to
 in your third reply.

And I have been told by people who were polled that they couldn’t vote
for me so they simply pressed a number on their phone that corresponded
 to none of the choices offered.  Perhaps those responses were just tossed?
So for instance you don’t know how many Schwartz voters are simply
voting for someone other than Catania or Bowser (a pretty common
phenomenon in all elections).  From Post reporter Mike Debonis’s discussion
on WMAL radio I understand you asked Schwartz voters whether their
second choice was Catania or Bowser, again, not who there 2nd choice
was or which of all the choices on the ballot are the second choice.  So
 you are really just saying you aren’t in our poll so you didn’t
show up in our poll so we won’t be offering you as an option in forums
 or in our future poll.
It is commendable that in both the case of Schwartz and Sarvis you have
managed to count past two to three.  Your rebuttal with Sarvis is slightly
off topic – I am not accusing you of prejudice against Libertarians.  I’m
suggesting a much more systemic problem than that.