The Chatter: McConnell's advice to Bush; Criticism of Passport; and polling issues

11/10/2010 05:05 PM

McConnell comes under criticism after revelation in Bush’s book

Former President George W. Bush wrote in his memoirs that Kentucky U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell urged him to reduce troop levels to help out the Republican congressional and senate candidates in the 2006 election, the Louisville Courier-Journal’s James Carroll was first to report.

Carroll’s piece includes harsh criticism of the revelation about McConnell’s position from political observers, including Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia.

The response from McConnell’s spokesman was that he does not publicly discuss advice he offers to the president.

Few in the national media have picked up on this story so far.

Passport audit sparks strong reactions

State leaders have swiftly condemned some of the spending practices and financial management of Passport, the managed care provider that handles health coverage for the poor and disabled in the Louisville area.

State Auditor Crit Luallen issued the 223-page audit yesterday, outlining what auditors described as excessive spending on lobbying, travel and salaries. In addition, the audit shows Passport gave some financial benefits to the partnering health care organizations that founded it, including Jewish Hospital and University of Louisville hospital.

Gov. Steve Beshear has called for a more detailed financial audit. In a statement, Beshear called the practices “unacceptable.”

And House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s statement asked why the cabinet didn’t catch the issues earlier. But he said these “random acts” shouldn’t discourage the state from looking at similar managed care set-ups in the future.

Cabinet officials say they’ve been focused on keeping tabs on the quality of care Passport provides rather than the finances of the program.

The Courier-Journal’s Tom Loftus,┬áthe Herald-Leader’s Beth Musgrave, Kentucky Public Radio’s Tony McVeigh and Pageone’s Jake Payne outline the big picture painted by the audit.

New poll sort of surveys the Kentucky governor’s race

A Public Policy Polling survey out of North Carolina on Wednesday showed Gov. Steve Beshear starting the 2011 election cycle with what the firm described as being in “solid shape” in his re-election bid against two potential Republican opponents.

The problem with the poll is that it pitted Beshear against Republican Phil Moffett and Beshear against Republican Senate President David Williams — but the questions didn’t include any running mates.

Candidates for governor must run on a slate with a lieutenant governor. And running mates can make a difference for better or for worse for the slates.

Beshear has teamed up with soon-to-be-former Louisville mayor Jerry Abramson and Williams’ running mate is Agriculture Commissioner Richie Farmer. Williams has long made the case that the two of them together are a strong enough combination to unseat the sitting governor.

And Moffett is running with state Rep. Mike Harmon of Boyle County.

Pollsters call for better disclosure in public polls

That segues into another news item from this week on polling. Firms from both parties signed a letter urging more scrutiny by the media of public polling that comes out and doesn’t disclose the basic information as prescribed by the pollster’s professional association, as Mark Blumenthal of the Huffington Post first reported.

The arguments they make in the letter are pretty interesting as the implore journalists who “score” polling accuracy to look beyond whether the margin of victory was close and scrutinize the methodology and transparency.

(In full disclosure, the cn|2 Polls conducted by Braun Research Inc. that can be found on this site include a methodology statement with the required information and the full results, including the wording of the questions, demographics of those interviewed and the crosstabulations.)

- Ryan Alessi


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