A story concerning the possible abuse of power by the White House or Obama campaign that was initially dismissed by liberal blogs appears to be proving otherwise. According to internal e-mails, obtained by the Daily Caller’s Matt Boyle, sent between senior Gallup Organization executives, senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod attempted to intimidate the well known polling firm, when numbers for President Obama were not particularly ideal.
When news broke that the Justice Department was filing a lawsuit against Gallup for overcharging their clients, there was suspicion that either the White House or the Obama campaign may have applied pressure to Gallup because of President Obama’s less than great polling numbers from the organization.
According to the Daily Caller: (bolding is mine)
In April, Axelrod tweeted that a poll showing Mitt Romney with a 48-43 percent lead over Obama was “saddled with some methodological problems,” directing his Twitter followers to read a National Journal story criticizing Gallup polls showing a Romney lead.
In that National Journal piece, Ron Brownstein wrote that the polls showing Romney leading the president had “a sample that looks much more like the electorate in 2010 than the voting population that is likely to turn out in 2012.”
Internally, Gallup officials discussed via email how to respond Axelrod’s accusations. One suggested that it “seems like a pretty good time for a blog response,” and named a potential writer.
In response to that suggestion, another senior Gallup official wrote — in an email chain titled “Axelrod vs. Gallup” — that the White House “has asked” a senior Gallup staffer “to come over and explain our methodology too.”
That Gallup official, the email continued, “has a plan that includes blogging and telling WH [the White House] he would love to have them come over here etc. This could be a very good moment for us to [show] our super rigorous methods compared to weak samples etc. …”
The writer named several news organizations with their own polling methodologies, all of which resulted in numbers more favorable to President Obama at the time.
In response to that email, a third senior Gallup official said he thought Axelrod’s pressure “sounds a little like a Godfather situation.”
“Imagine Axel[rod] with Brando’s voice: ‘[Name redacted], I’d like you to come over and explain your methodology…You got a nice poll there….would be a shame if anything happened to it…’”
In a second email chain titled “slanderous link about Gallup methodology,” another senior Gallup official noted that a Washington Examiner story on Axelrod’s anti-Gallup tweet was “on [the] Drudge [Report] right now,” before writing that the episode was “[s]o politically motivated, it’s laughable.”
“As they say in b-ball: he’s trying to work the refs,” that official wrote to other senior Gallup staffers. “What a joke. Axel’s had a bad week. He got in the middle of the Ann Romney thing. Then said the country is going in the wrong direction. (Oops!) Now he’s swinging at us….”
I spoke with former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, now an Obama campaign sr. adviser, about whether the campaign interacted with the Gallup Organization regarding the polling company’s methodology.
“I was the press secretary for two years. I know it was really smart not to get involved in discussing things around the justice department that I have no knowledge about,” said Gibbs. “I have no knowledge of any discussions of anybody on the campaign side with Gallup,” he went on to say later.