As I once noted
in the context of the bogus White House vandalism story, the stories that really get traction aren't so much the ones that are true as they are the ones that resonate with journalists' preexisting prejudices and assumptions.
Case in point: Bush and polling.
The reigning assumption in DC is that Bush makes little use of pollsters or doesn't pay much attention to them if he does. Even many reporters think the president's pollster is Matthew Dowd. None of these points turns out to be true. But until now no one took the time to ask the obvious question: who's the president's pollster?
No one, that is, until Josh Green -- esteemed TPM associate -- decided to take up the challenge. As Josh discovered, Bush's pollster is a guy named Jan van Lohuizen. Bush and Rove hooked up with him back in 1991 when Rove hired him to work on a campaign to raise the local sales tax in Arlington, Texas, to help pay for a new baseball stadium for Bush's team, the Texas Rangers.
Here's one fun snippet from his soon-to-be-published article in the Washington Monthly ...
Like previous presidential pollsters, van Lohuizen also serves corporate clients, including Wal-Mart, Qwest, Anheuser-Busch, and Microsoft. And like his predecessors, this presents potential conflicts of interest. For example, van Lohuizen polls for Americans for Technology Leadership, a Microsoft-backed advocacy group that commissioned a van Lohuizen poll last July purporting to show strong public support for ending the government's suit against the company. At the time, Bush's Justice Department was deciding to do just that. Clinton pollster Mark Penn also did work for Microsoft and Clinton took heat for it. Bush has avoided criticism because few people realize he even has a pollster.
The White House has gone to great lengths to keep its polling operation and its pollster under wraps. And pretty much everybody in the DC press corps decided this was cool by them.
Of course, the fact that Bill Clinton's pollsters got so much more attention might have something to do with the fact that his post-1994 pollsters (Greenberg's cool by me) were both fabulously cartoonish blowhards. But let's not make this post more complicated than it needs to be.
I'll be linking to the story tomorrow.