Luntz Switching Sides?

This could be interesting:After being uninvited to a House Republican retreat last week, pollster Frank Luntz was invited to attend one by Senate Democrats in April by Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Roll Call reports.

Said one House GOP leadership aide: "That's why we don't want Frank Luntz at our retreat. We're not sure what side he's on. We're not sure if he's on the side of the companies paying him, on the side of the GOP, or on the side of the Democrats."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post provides some background on the 1998 feud between Luntz and newly-elected House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) that led to the controversy. I find this particularly interesting because I'm a hack rather than a wonk. Even though I am really, really left wing (to a degree that may shock some readers), when it comes to politics my mind is focused more on political machines and institutional power than on public policy. For this reason I think that it is particularly important that Republicans seem to be sending off one of the main cogs in their political machine. The basic reason behind this seems to be a combination of revenge and that Boehner views political strategy different than past Republican leaders:After the 1998 midterms, House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) resigned -- in part because Republicans failed to gain seats in a year when President Bill Clinton was battling impeachment. Days before the GOP caucus met to hold leadership elections, Boehner appeared on several Sunday talk shows making clear that he and Gingrich had often parted ways on strategy.

Luntz said at the time that Boehner made a "big mistake" by criticizing Gingrich, and he heaped praise on Rep. J.C. Watts (Okla.), who was challenging Boehner for the conference chairmanship. Watts beat Boehner -- throwing the Ohioan unceremoniously out of leadership.

Eight years later, Boehner is back, and even Luntz acknowledged in an e-mail to his staff that the Ohio member "is not a fan of myself or my work," according to an account in Roll Call. "That's just the way it is." This could simply be a personal dispute, but it could also be that Republicans are going to begin moving in a different strategic direction under Boehner. Considering recent Republican success, that is fine by me. As long as he sticks to the strategy side and not policy, I'll happily welcome a successful political consultant like Frnak Luntz over to our side. After all, could he really do any worse than our guys?

Tags: consultants, strategy (all tags)

Comments

26 Comments

Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Why do you think Boehner does not like Luntz?

by jasmine 2006-02-13 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Matt, how can you say Luntz is successful when Bush and the Republican approval rating is less than 40%?  Why do we want one of their rejects?

by Dameocrat 2006-02-13 11:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Luntz can't be blamed for the Republicans' current quagmire.  That blame largely falls in the laps of Bush, Rove, Abramoff et al., and thus, calling him a GOP 'reject' is just wrong.

Fact is that Luntz is a very good researcher who was instrumental in helping the GOPers take back Congress.  

Like him or not, success like that can't be argued with.  

by Politicalhack06 2006-02-13 12:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?
Whatever Luntz may be, he's NOT a GOOD RESEARCHER.
He uses misleading reports of research to prove points and has been caught lying about his methods. He might be a decent strategist but researcher he is not. The American Association for Public Opinion Research, which is the largest association of pollsters, formally condemned him in the 1990s for misrepresenting his research. While it might seem nice to condemn AAPOR in turn, it's a bipartisan organization which includes most of the leading political opinion experts in the country and they all agree - Luntz is a hack, not a researcher.
Here's the gist of what AAPOR had to say about him: http://www.aapor.org/default.asp?ID=14&a mp;page=news_and_issues/press_releases_a nd_official_statements
by jbrockettm 2006-02-15 02:50AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Bush, Cheney, DeLay et al. have lousy poll numbers because they are failures at governing. Losing wars and U.S. cities will depress your numbers, at least a little. Luntz doesn't do governing, he does elections. In  U.S. politics the skill set useful to one is almost completely disconnected from the skill set required for the other. Yes, it is a problem -- especially for all of us ruled by these people.

Chris: I love "I'm a hack rather than a wonk." I might even steal it someday, as a died in the wool leftist who lives, breathes and makes a living at real politics (and tries to sustain left understandings of the universe in my spare time.)

by janinsanfran 2006-02-13 02:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

"Luntz doesn't do governing, he does elections. In  U.S. politics the skill set useful to one is almost completely disconnected from the skill set required for the other."

Exactly.  

by Politicalhack06 2006-02-13 04:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

I would say that, considering the iraq debacle, the deficits, terri schiavo, the katrina response, his connections with abramoff, lay, etc, i would say that 40% and control of all three branches of government is pretty good.

by Groper 2006-02-13 12:21PM | 0 recs
really, really left wing

Chris, I won't be shocked at your way-lefty views (which I increasingly share), so sometime you should tell us what you really think about stuff.  I've got your back.

Even if Luntz is good at what he does, there is something slimy about him that is repelling.  I wouldn't trust his advice on Dem. strategy more than I'd trust Joe Momentum.

by JimPortlandOR 2006-02-13 01:21PM | 0 recs
Re: really, really left wing

"Even if Luntz is good at what he does, there is something slimy about him that is repelling.  I wouldn't trust his advice on Dem. strategy more than I'd trust Joe Momentum."

I really, really hate to quote Reagan, but there is definitely something to the whole 'trust but verify' saying here.  

by Politicalhack06 2006-02-13 04:45PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

this could be a trap, like pat buchanan's public desertion of the GOP. He took control of the Reform Party, then ran it into the ground and didn't seriously challenge the GOP in any swing state in 2000.

I would not want Luntz in any Democratic strategy session. Maybe his feud with Boehner is real, but that doesn't mean he wouldn't pass info on to other Republican hacks.

by desmoinesdem 2006-02-13 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Do we really want the guy who advised the Bush Administration that "no speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11"?

by Super G 2006-02-13 03:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

"Do we really want the guy who advised the Bush Administration that "no speech about homeland security or Iraq should begin without a reference to 9/11"?"

As much as we all know that it's nonsense, it's extremely basic, not to mention good, politics.

by Politicalhack06 2006-02-13 04:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Um, and why is that stupid?  What else can they sell?  

by Eric11 2006-02-13 04:52PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Speaking about revenge - how about the revenge of the Republican legislators in the Virginia State House who are punishing legislators who supported the bi-partisan tax increase last year which the state needed to retain our AAA bond rating?  See http://home.hamptonroads.com/stories/sto ry.cfm?story=79891&ran=15657

by krachmanj 2006-02-13 04:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Luntz appears to have an excellent methodology for testing people's reactions to words, phrases, linked phrases, ad spots, etc.  The tool is not inappropriate at all.

But the use of the tool, by Luntz himself and certainly at the behest of his Republican clients, to identify and use those phrasings that "work" even if they are not true, is clearly an ethical failure, giving rise to Orwellian double-speak.

But one need not use the tool that way ... assuming that Luntz can test and deliver the phrasings that work and are true to the policies.

To see the results of his testing of a great (GREAT!) ad, done by some friends of mine that won the 2004 DNC nominating convention ad contest, see http://americasparty.tv/ and watch the version with the "dial test".

by Will Neuhauser 2006-02-13 04:54PM | 0 recs
what do you mean by really left-wing?

what does "left-wing" even mean anymore?

obviously you don't believe in the nationalization of industry. so what, are you an anarcho-syndicalist, or something?

please, give us your ideal political reality someday.

by colorless green ideas 2006-02-13 08:16PM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Don't trust him.  

by oakland 2006-02-14 12:04AM | 0 recs
Hacks vs. Wonks

This is only barely on-topic, but anyone who didn't understand Chris's "I'm a hack rather than a wonk" line (and definitely everyone who did understand it) should read this Washington Monthly column by Bruce Reed.

After two decades in Washington as a wonk working among hacks, I have come to the conclusion that the gap between Republicans and Democrats is as nothing compared to the one between these two tribes. We wonks think we're smarter than hacks. Hacks think that if being smart makes someone a wonk, they'd rather be stupid. Wonks think all hacks are creatures from another planet, like James Carville. Hacks share Paul Begala's view that wonks are all "propeller heads," like Elroy on "The Jetsons." Wonks think the differences between hacks and wonks are as irreconcilable as the Hutus and the Tutsis. Hacks think it's just like wonks to bring up the Hutus and the Tutsis.

by karichisholm 2006-02-14 12:20AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Can you say troll? How about mole, double-agent, traitor?

He's ruined the national debate, along with Newt.

1) How can we think he'd be honest?

  1. Why would we want him anyway?
  2. Does he have any principle besides making money?

I don't want him.

We need new blood, not old rejected blood.

by zappatero 2006-02-14 02:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Luntz is very good at what he does.  He will do his focus groups, and frame a message with laser precision.  If he can provide this service to the Democrats, with the same vigor he did for the Repubs, fine.  To quote Harry Truman, "he's a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch".

I'm a big fan of Lakoff, but he just doesn't seem to have the resources to take message framing to the next level.  

by Dick Tuck 2006-02-14 03:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?
I love the idea of Repugs switching sides-- if they see there is a difference between the two sides that transcends the petty disputes Inside the Beltway and if they're switching because they support the basic tenets of the Democratic Party and no longer support what the Republican Party stands for. But I'm afraid that not only do the Inside the Beltway career Dems not care a whit about that, they're even willing to accept a Republican into a leadership role if they think it will enhance their own career development.
Rahm Emanuel has been recruiting Republicans
to run against progressive and grassroots Democrats in congressional races around the country, Republicans who are now "Democrats" by virtue of a party registration change form but no awakening and seeing of any lights. No Saul to Paul moments-- just politics as usual for the Inside the Beltway scumbag class.
by DownWithTyranny 2006-02-14 04:56AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Howard Dean has said he "likes" Frank Luntz. Maybe he wasn't kidding. I think a lot of these consultants are really apolitical on the policy side. For example, I don't think Carville has any deep convictions, but we like him when he's helping get Democrats get elected. If we can get Luntz to stop helping the Rethugs craft their message and start helping us (the Dems) craft ours, I see that as a "twofer"!

by Jim in Chicago 2006-02-14 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

As part of the loyalty oath, insist he remove the wig.

by feingoldobama 2006-02-14 07:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, Republicans welcomed, even encouraged, Democrats who switched parties.  The result was control of both Houses of Congress.  We would be wise to follow suit, particularly when the Republican party has moves so far to the right that many moderates feel like they have been left behind.  Rejecting party switchers is short-sighted.

As for Luntz, he's a very smart guy.  Right after the 2004, progressives were jumping all over themselves with George Lakoff's book, "Don't think of an elephant!"   What Lakoff said in '04, Luntz was saying in 1988.  Unfortunately, too many progressives could only get angry at Luntz instead of trying to understand him.  

Luntz understands how to frame argument so Joe and Jane Average can get behind it.  Love him or hate him, we would be lucky to have him on our side.

by millstone 2006-02-14 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Luntz is a proponent (if not the inventor) of a tactic I call the Lie by Proximity.  That is, he says you can put unrelated names and issues together in a sentence or paragraph as a way of making people think they're related when they're really not--like Saddam and 9/11.
http://www.pbs.org/now/transcript/transc ript327_full.html#luntz

I hope and pray that Democrats will not become that dishonest.

Carolyn Kay
MakeThemAccountable.com

by Caro 2006-02-14 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Luntz Switching Sides?

Luntz was at a meeting of the Democratic Governors Association in Aspen last summer, and gave a presentation to the members. While he asked that we not discuss the specifics, I can tell you that the information he was giving was incredibly interesting, and I think he's got a good mind for understanding polling data, which would be very helpful for anybody he works with.

He would be helpful to us if he fully switched sides.

by dslater 2006-02-14 09:53AM | 0 recs

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