Update: Is Gunzburger Ahead Or Is Poll Biased?


Broward County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger released a poll late Tuesday which she contends shows her far out in front of her opponent, former state Minority Leader Steve Geller.

The poll immediately became a campaign controversy, with Geller’s camp charging it is flawed.

Is the poll clever spin or an accurate survey?

Like much in this contentious campaign, the answer is not clear cut. 

The head-to-head comparison which shows Gunzburger winning was  tabulated after extremely negative questions were asked about Geller and to a lesser extent Gunzburger.  

Geller’s campaign does not believe the poll is a valid measure of their candidate’s support because it was packed with those negative questions about their candidate.

Gunzburger’s staff says it is valid because the negative questions mirror the advertising that will be distributed in the future campaign.

I can’t decide who is right, but I asked some impartial experts to give an opinion based on the information the Gunzburger campaign released. 

I flew to Gainesville Wednesday after this poll was released.  I had a previously planned meeting with University of Florida political scientists and political science graduate students.

None of them had any intimate knowledge of the southeast Broward county commission race.  Nor were they involved in the race in any way.  

All the UF political scientists and graduate students I consulted with — who included some of the leading political scientists in the state — disagree with the conclusions of Gunzburger’s pollster. 

Based on the news release and memo from the pollster that was released, the UF political scientists contend that the news release and the pollster’s memo is biased.

They say that Gunzburger’s lead was generated because the slanted questions asked about Geller seemed to outweigh those asked about Gunzburger.

Gunzburger’s pollster Keith Frederick said he believed the negative questions accurately reflect how the well financed, aggressive campaign would play out.

None of the UF experts saw the actual poll, which was not released.  They only saw the news release and the memo from the pollster.

All said the contention that Gunzburger was leading Geller 47% to 33 % was
“questionable”  based on this news release and the pollster’s memo.

Two political scientists said that the key figure was that Steve Geller had 69%  positive ratings, while  Gunzburger had only 57%.  That question appeared to be asked before the negative material was mentioned about Geller, they said.

If the election was held today, it appears that Geller would easily win, according to a top UF political scientist.

Fredrick says that interpretation is simplistic. After all,  the election isn’t being held today.

You decide.

The material released from Gunzburger’s campaign is here:

News Release

“(HOLLYWOOD) County Commissioner Sue Gunzburger released the results of a detailed new poll which show her now holding a lopsided advantage over her primary challenger.

Gunzburger leads lobbyist and former legislator Steve Geller by a 47% to 33% margin among likely Democratic primary voters.

The poll was conducted for Gunzburger’s campaign by respected national pollster Keith Frederick of Frederick Polls. Other Frederick Polls clients have included US Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, Maine Governor John Baldacci, the Florida Democratic Party, Save Our Everglades, Broward County Property Appraiser Lori Parrish, AT&T, Clear Channel
Communications, and various newspaper and nd used a sampling size of 400 likely District 6 Democratic primary voters. The margin of error was +/- 5%.

Only a very simplistic poll relies upon just the most basic and least relevant “who would you vote for question. By contrast, this benchmark poll used the detailed and accepted method  of simulating the information likely voters will be exposed to by the August 24 primary.

Explained Frederick: “Thus, instead of just taking a measure of mere current name  recognition, this detailed poll let us understand how the race is likely to play out by primary day if both candidates as expected run aggressive, well-financed campaigns.

“I’m very encouraged by these great results, said Gunzburger. “It shows the voters want  me to keep fighting for them for low taxes, stronger ethics laws, new jobs, and protecting  our green spaces from over-development.

To get an accurate account of voter sentiments, the 20-minute survey asked a lengthy and balanced list of questions on the positive and negative attributes of both Gunzburger and Geller based upon their respective records as public figures.

See the attached memorandum from Frederick Polls detailing the results.

TO: Commissioner Sue Gunzburger

FROM: Keith Frederick
FrederickPolls, LLC

DATE: March 16, 2010

RE: Poll Results Broward Commission District 6 Democratic Primary

1. Methodology.
•Sample size: n=400.
•Margin of error: 5%.
•Eligibility: Likely 2010 Democratic Primary voters.
•Interview dates: February 22-March 1, 2010.
•Scope: Broward Commission District 6.

2. Pro-Incumbent Mood.

Unlike current national trends, Commission District 6 Democratic Primary voters are in a pro-incumbent mood. They:
•Are more positive (41%) than negative (27%) about the direction of the
•Give the Broward County Commission a positive job rating by 53% to
39%; and
•Prefer a generic “incumbent Commissioner with a pro-ethics, proenvironment, fiscally responsible record to a “challenger who will bring
change by a wide 55% to 29% margin.

3. Candidate Standing.

Both candidates have fairly high name recognition and low negative ratings at this point, with Geller holding an initial advantage in basic name recognition:
•Sue Gunzburger: 57% positive, 13% negative Total Name ID: 70%.
•Steve Geller: 68% positive, 13% negative Total Name ID: 81%.

4. Vote Preference.

Once voters become fully informed about both candidates a traditional polling methodology which attempts to simulate the information voters are expected to be exposed to by election day from the paid mail and TV spots from both campaigns Sue Gunzburger holds a 14-point lead 47% to 33% over Steve Geller.

Sue Gunzburger’s lead comes in the face of voters being confronted with several of the attacks the Geller campaign is likely to make against her including:

She been in office too long/term-limits, time for change, part of the corrupt “pay-to-play political system, and spent millions of taxpayer money on lavish arts projects.

The lead is wide 14 points because Steve Geller’s negative record is so much more potent and troubling for voters than any of his positive achievements.

These negatives include:
•Being a registered and well-paid lobbyist while serving in the Legislature;
•Lobbying for taxpayer dollars for a bailout to a wealthy developer client;
•Being connected financially to well-known ponzi felons Joel Steigner
(Mutual Benefits) and Scott Rothstein (RRA);
•and, supporting his Tallahassee special interest lobbyist friends with rate
increases on telephone and electric utility bills.

Geller’s shady background problems overwhelm his well-testing positive record on autism, child safety, and insurance reform.

Meanwhile, Sue Gunzburger’s positives test stronger, especially on:

•Being fiscally responsible with taxpayer money and cutting tax rates;
•Supporting numerous quality of life enhancements for Broward;
•Being a consistent voice for ethics reform;
•Having a long history of hard-work and independence;
•and, promoting economic development but not out-of-control sprawl and taxpayer-funded development projects.

5. Bottom Line.

In this Democratic Primary battle between two likely well-funded and popular candidates, poll results clearly show that as voters are exposed to the give-and-take of each candidate’s campaign, this District 6 electorate will solidly favor incumbent Sue Gunzburger’s reelection in the August 24 primary.”

15 Responses to “Update: Is Gunzburger Ahead Or Is Poll Biased?”

  1. Not Surprising says:

    Since when is Geller a supporter of insurance reform?

    Under his watch as the state’s insurance honcho in the legislature, we paid ever skyrocketing insurance rates, well beyond justification, while he sat back and collected fat campaign checks from insurance companies. Swell job there Steve.

    Voters are not stupid and the poll demonstrates it.

    We want all of the shady types out of government. Nobody at all believes that Sue Gunzburger is a crook. Everyone either thinks or suspects that Geller is a crook. That is the bottom line. That is why Sue is leading. That is why Sue will win. It is also why her lead will grow.

    Nobody wants to invite more ethics and criminal problems on the County Commission. We have more than enough of that now.

  2. Fake name says:

    Did this pole include people other then family members?

  3. Tommy the Fry Cook says:

    What a joke.

    The credibility of this poll is immediately undermined by the fact that the pollster’s described Geller as having a “shady background”. I thought polls were supposed to ANALYZE opinions, not OFFER them! It’s obvious that the pollster knew who was paying his fee when he wrote this nonsense.

    I also love the lists of “negatives” assigned to each candidate. With Sue, the pollster offers the same generic “negatives” that could be applied to almost any incumbant anywhere in the country, with the exception of spending money on the arts. “She suppports the arts”–Gee, what a terribly negative thing to say about someone! That’s a real “game changer”!

    Does this guy really think that’s the worst and most specific “negative” in Sue’s political history?!?

    Then, with Geller, all of a sudden the guy gets specific and uses bias-inducing decriptions: “well-paid lobbyist”, “wealthy developer clients”, “well-known Ponzi-felons” (even though I agree with the intent, isn’t it libel to characterize someone as a felon BEFORE their convictions?), and “special interest lobbyist friends”.

    This sounds like a PUSH poll to me. If Sue’s campaign wants it to be believed, they should release all the specific questions in the order they were asked so everyone can guage it for themselves. But if the questions were written as biasedly as the conclusion, it’s not worth the paper its printed on.

    Everyone knows the old cliche: “Figures lie and liars figure”. The same can be said for pollsters.

    The only poll that matters is going to happen on election day.

  4. Hollywoody says:

    Sounds like Gunzburger is getting ready to blast the hell out of Geller. This is going to be fun to watch him get what’s coming to him after his years of arrogance. He sneered at my neighbors and I when we urged our commissioners to kill some of his beach monster high-rises he lobbied for. I hope Gunzburget lets him have it. Hit that fat slimy f*** with everything possible. And then hit him a few more times once he’s down. I’ll ask my priest to get you canonized Sue (joking, I know she’s Jewish) if you can rid us from this obnoxious, arrogant jerk!!! Maybe if she totally destroys him he’ll have to leave town forever to earn a living. Wouldn’t that be sweet!

  5. Charley Varrick says:

    The people who they polled must have either been on drugs or were Broward County Commissioners if they believed this :

    Are more positive (41%) than negative (27%) about the direction of the county.

    Give the Broward County Commission a positive job rating by 53% to

    Are you having a laugh ?

  6. Resident says:

    It’s a push poll.

    Too bad they can’t ask these questions when voters vote. All they ask is who you want to vote for. You can’t know what will be put out, let alone who might see it or care about it.

    I’m not even involved in this race, and really don’t care who wins. Probably won’t make a difference anyhow. So I wouldn’t put much into this poll.

  7. Truthiness says:

    People who call something a “push poll” apparently have no idea what a push poll is.  Anything like this which generates results is not a push poll.  A “push poll” is a persuasion call masquerading as a poll.  This seems to be a real poll by a real pollster.  As for what it reads on the ballot on election day, the people who show up to vote have had months to hear the message from both sides before they vote so this poll would appear to be valid, depending on was asked about each candidate and how it was worded.  I’m inclined to believe this is legit.  Keep in mind who is running her campaign. He has rather effectively used polls and really sharpened attacks to win lots of campaigns in the past. If Geller is saying he doubts these numbers, then he should release the full numbers of the poll he conducted just last week.

  8. Resident says:

    When I see “Prefer a generic “incumbent Commissioner” with a pro-ethics, proenvironment, fiscally responsible record to a “challenger who will bring
    change,” I see push poll. Who says any of this is true. It assumes those positions.

    Again, “Once voters become fully informed about both candidates.” Who is to say what is “fully informed.” Push Poll.

    “. . . because Steve Geller’s negative record is so much more potent and troubling for voters than any of his positive achievements.” Push Poll.

    “Geller’s shady background problems overwhelm his well-testing positive record on autism, child safety, and insurance reform.” Shady? Push Poll.

    Not one mention of any of Gunzberger’s negative attacks, or that of her son’s. Push Poll.

    Don’t thank me Geller, it doesn’t mean I support you either. It’s just stating the truth.

  9. No truth in polling says:

    I actually got called to take a poll on this race due to the fact that I am a super voter. I will tell you that the questions asked were slanted and biased.

  10. Hollywood Voter says:

    I got called twice, first by what I now can tell by the dates was Gunzburger’s poll, and then by what I presume was Geller’s poll. They were almost identical. And both were pretty even-handed. I can tell lots of Geller supporters are trying to bad-mouth these results but both questions asked all the tough questions about both. I was asked the lobbyist questions, the developer and environmentalist questions, the autism and arts and tax questions, Gunzburger’s plastic bus bench deal and about her kids’ jobs, women’s rights, and Geller’s ponzi connection, and age. Am I missing something, but I think both polls were very fair. I could easily tell both polls were being done by the two campaigns, but both polls were well enough done that I couldn’t tell which one was Sue’s poll and which one was Steve’s poll until I saw the dates of her poll in this story. I don’t know what Geller’s poll will show, but as someone who got both calls, they both seemed pretty much the identical and fair. If I couldn’t tell which poll was paid for by which campaign, and I’m someone who follows politics, I think it is a sign both polls were done well.

    As for the naysayers above, I think it is all just Geller campaign spin to explain why he is now losing a race he thought he would easily win. There’s a word for it: hubris.

  11. Right Wing Reactionary says:

    The poll should be a single question poll. Put this one out there and we’ll get a real picture.

    Concerning the upcoming County Commission race this August, who would you support for election?

    Choose One:

    A. – Steven Geller, the fat, overblown, former State Senator and casino lobbyist?


    B. – Suzanne Gunzburger, the should have been term limited County Commissioner who’s overstayed her welcome by at least eight years?


    C. – Never heard of either of them so who the hell cares?


    D. – They’re both greasy overindulgent politicians who spend too way much taxpayer money, may they both rot in hell.

  12. Tommy the Fry Cook says:

    Buddy, thank you for following up and exposing the flaws in the polling.

  13. Dear Hollywood Voter says:

    You are such an obvious plant for the Gunzburger campaign. You are just being used to try to defend a shameful attempt by your campaign to mislead the voters about your poll results. What other deceptions will you employ against the voters just to keep your government job?

    and to Truthiness (Ron G.)
    who posted above “Keep in mind who is running her campaign. He has rather effectively used polls and really sharpened attacks to win lots of campaigns in the past.”

    I guess your talking about all the campaigns you ran as a Republican consultant trying to beat incumbent Democrats. Anything for a fee…huh.

  14. Ron Gunzburger says:

    “I guess your talking about all the campaigns you ran as a Republican consultant trying to beat incumbent Democrats. Anything for a fee…huh.

    Hey Steve/David! You know that is not true. I worked as a paid campaign consultant (from 1982 until I retired from that business in 2004) on roughly 130 races. Of those 130, just 1 (0.8%) — in Maryland — was on behalf of a partisan GOP candidate. Most of the campaigns I consulted on were non-partisan municipal races helping to elect environmentalist candidates (like my mother and the late Sue Katz) running against pro-developer candidates (like Steve Geller), and issue campaigns like the Park at Stranahan House bonds vote.

    And yes, I was once a Republican, but I’m proof positive it is curable! In reality, my personal politics in recent years have shifted rather far left (much to the left of my mother, and very far to the left of a Blue Dog Dem like Geller). Out of my own pocket I sent myself to New Hampshire and spent Prez primary week 2004 working as a GOTV ward captain for Howard Dean (a peace and health care candidate I’m still tremendously proud to have supported) … I was involved in 2005 with the national draft group which tried to convince progressive Russ Feingold to run for President in 2008 … and made my first donation to the Obama campaign on the very first day he launched his exploratory committee because I thought he was the most viable progressive alternative to the Clintons (my big disappointment with President Obama is simply that he is proving to be far too centrist for my tastes).

    Finally, for those of you who haven’t visited lately, be sure to check out my mother’s brand new, multimedia campaign site:

  15. Geller Claims He Is Leading Comfortably : BrowardBeat.com says:

    […] According to the blogger “All the UF political scientists and graduate students I consulted with – who included some of the leading political scientists in the state – disagree with the conclusions of Gunzburger’s pollster. […]