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Polls by Lincoln Club, Chargers diverge widely

Evidence suggests Faulconer's pollster is a huckster

Results of Hart Research poll
Results of Hart Research poll

Polling results by local pollster John Nienstedt of Competitive Edge, financed by the arch-conservative Lincoln Club, purportedly show that 51 percent of San Diegans support a government subsidy for a Chargers stadium if the gift came to around one-third of a $1 billion facility.

Now the Chargers have come back with their own polls showing starkly different results. The team commissioned two nationally known polling organizations that contacted samples of San Diegans this month.

The first was by Peter Hart, the pollster for NBC/Wall Street Journal. The Hart organization did polls over the past two weeks. The question: "Do you favor or oppose spending at least $375 million of taxpayer money from the city and county general funds to build a new NFL football stadium in Mission Valley?"

The answers were almost identical. In the first poll, 66 percent opposed using taxpayer money, 28 percent favored it, and 6 percent were not sure. In the second poll, 66 percent opposed, 29 percent favored, and 5 percent were not sure.

Fabiani points out that Nienstedt was paid by the Lincoln Club, which has been attacking the Chargers through Facebook ads. Also, Nienstedt is the mayor's long-time local pollster.

"In addition, we believe that the mayor's poll did not provide the information necessary for respondents to make up their minds," says Fabiani.

The Chargers also commissioned polls by Baselice & Associates. In an initial poll, respondents were asked if they approve of the city and county spending $400 million from the city and county general funds for a new NFL stadium. Results: 33 percent favor, 61 percent oppose, 6 percent unsure. In the second poll, the wording was changed to state "taxpayer money." Results; 30 percent favor, 66 percent oppose and 4 percent unsure.

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Results of Hart Research poll
Results of Hart Research poll

Polling results by local pollster John Nienstedt of Competitive Edge, financed by the arch-conservative Lincoln Club, purportedly show that 51 percent of San Diegans support a government subsidy for a Chargers stadium if the gift came to around one-third of a $1 billion facility.

Now the Chargers have come back with their own polls showing starkly different results. The team commissioned two nationally known polling organizations that contacted samples of San Diegans this month.

The first was by Peter Hart, the pollster for NBC/Wall Street Journal. The Hart organization did polls over the past two weeks. The question: "Do you favor or oppose spending at least $375 million of taxpayer money from the city and county general funds to build a new NFL football stadium in Mission Valley?"

The answers were almost identical. In the first poll, 66 percent opposed using taxpayer money, 28 percent favored it, and 6 percent were not sure. In the second poll, 66 percent opposed, 29 percent favored, and 5 percent were not sure.

Fabiani points out that Nienstedt was paid by the Lincoln Club, which has been attacking the Chargers through Facebook ads. Also, Nienstedt is the mayor's long-time local pollster.

"In addition, we believe that the mayor's poll did not provide the information necessary for respondents to make up their minds," says Fabiani.

The Chargers also commissioned polls by Baselice & Associates. In an initial poll, respondents were asked if they approve of the city and county spending $400 million from the city and county general funds for a new NFL stadium. Results: 33 percent favor, 61 percent oppose, 6 percent unsure. In the second poll, the wording was changed to state "taxpayer money." Results; 30 percent favor, 66 percent oppose and 4 percent unsure.

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Comments
16

9 out 10 people surveyed said they do not trust polls.

"Fabiani points out that Nienstedt was paid by the Lincoln Club, which has been attacking the Chargers through Facebook ads"

Did Fabiani also point out that Baselice and Hart were paid by the Chargers, which has been attacking local officials?

Nienstedt has many, many years of polling experience and if he was going to cook the numbers it seems like he would have come up with something than 51%. When you factor in the typical error rate in these polls, the "favorable" number could be as low as 46%. Conversely the other polls could be as high as 35% favorable.

While Nienstedt's clients might want to tout their numbers as showing support, John's been around enough to know that 51% (or 46%) is cutting it too close for comfort and it's not the kind of numbers that let one conclude, "The people want this."

Polls such as this are easily manipulated to skew the results by changing the wording just a bit. The Charger's guy asks, "Do you favor or oppose spending at least $375 million of taxpayer money..."

Imagine changing that to "Would you be in favor of limiting the public contribution to a new stadium to no more than one-third of the total cost?" It would be interesting to see what Neinstedt actually asked.

Bottom line: none of these numbers look too good for proponents of public financing and it appears the Chargers goal was to come up with numbers they can later tout as reasons for moving north.

Aug. 13, 2015

Bob_Hudson: I agree: none of the numbers appears promising for the Chargers in San Diego. I understand the split in the Nienstedt numbers was 51 in favor, 41 against. That is hardly reassuring to those wanting the Chargers to stay. If two-thirds are actually opposed, as Chargers polls purport to show, the outlook is even worse.

In my opinion, the Chargers are gone whether or not they get L.A. They have deliberately rankled too much of the San Diego County populace. They must have another location -- probably St. Louis -- in their pockets as Plan B. Also, they could sell the team or a significant portion of it as Plan B. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2015

Polls can be twisted--I should know, right?

Just ask the "right" question.

Aug. 13, 2015

Twister: Oh yes. Polls can be and are often rigged. Much depends on the selection of whom to poll, and the way the question is worded. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2015

As others have said, a lot depends on the exact wording. If there were an actual ballot measure which both city leaders and the Chargers were behind the wording would be carefully crafted to avoid or at least minimize the fact that taxpayers would be chipping in a lot of money.

I think if the Chargers really wanted to stay they would have been doing the big-time pro-stadium PR blitz for the past few years.

Aug. 13, 2015

ImJustABill: I wrote in 2002 that the Chargers wanted L.A., but were going down two tracks (L.A. and San Diego) just in case they couldn't get to L.A.

Today, however, I believe the Chargers have -- realistically -- dropped San Diego as the second track. If the team doesn't get L.A., it will go somewhere else (probably St. Louis). First, the Chargers have made too many enemies in San Diego. Second, if one or two teams occupy L.A., San Diego will not be a very desirable market, even though it is the 17th largest market in the U.S. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2015

I would have to guess that the Chargers have done "straw polls" with the other owners and Goodell and based on that info the Chargers are confident that they can move to LA - or at worst if LA somehow falls through then they will be able to move (to St Louis or San Antonio).

Aug. 13, 2015

ImJustABill: I am sure the Chargers -- perhaps covertly -- have tried to get a reading of the leanings of the 32 owners.

There is little doubt that the Chargers are very confident of SOMETHING. It may not be L.A. It may be L.A. first and some other place (St. Louis, San Antonio, etc.) second.

For more than a dozen years, the Chargers were working on getting to L.A., but were pretending, at least, to want San Diego. They have dropped that pretense in recent months. They have a Plan A and a Plan B, and San Diego isn't in either. That's my opinion, of course. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2015

Watching the preseason game right now against the Cowboys. The Chargers ad slogan this year is "We're all in". Could not possibly be more ironic.

Aug. 13, 2015

ImJustABill: As in "We're all in this mess together." Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 13, 2015

As in we (The Chargers) want the fans be "all IN" but we (the Chargers) are all OUT (of San Diego)

Aug. 14, 2015

ImJustABill: Is there anybody left in San Diego who still believes the Chargers want to stay? And HAVE wanted to stay over the last decade when they insisted they did? Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2015

Andrew Poage: I didn't get the number of people polled in either the polls by the Lincoln Club and the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 14, 2015

One suspects that the GOP/Lincoln Club/Faulconer poll was taken with the intent of showing over-50% support, and the Chargers polls were taken with the intent of showing under-50% support. Mission accomplished on both counts.

The consensus among NFL sportswriters seems to be that the eventual outcome will be the Rams and Chargers playing in Inglewood, with the Raiders playing in the 49ers stadium or taking the best deal they can get in the next few years from either St. Louis or San Diego. We'll probably find out by the end of the year.

Aug. 14, 2015

Matt101: I think there is a very good chance that the Rams and Chargers will play in Inglewood. Some team is likely to take St. Louis -- probably either the Chargers or Raiders, whichever doesn't get Inglewood.

The 49ers live off personal seat licenses in Santa Clara because they sit in Silicon Valley, an extremely wealthy location. But consider Raiders fans. Would they sell personal seat licenses, luxury seats and boxes in Silicon Valley? Somehow, it seems unlikely. The Raiders in Silicon Valley are a little bit like a punk rock band at the Metropolitan Opera.

For a number of years now, the Chargers have done better on the field than the Rams. Would Kroenke want a team consistently better than his own at Inglewood? This is not necessarily an ego factor. The Chargers might sell more personal seat licenses, luxury suites and seats in Inglewood than the Rams. Kroenke could be leaving money on the table.

Remember, too, that Kroenke might sell the Rams and buy another team, or about half of another team -- the Chargers, perhaps? Will Alex Spanos's wife permit her family to sell Alex's team? There are a lot of questions hanging over this. Best, Don Bauder

Aug. 15, 2015

Don, I agree that Kroenke buying the Chargers or Raiders for LA seems like a possible outcome, the biggest sticking point being that it requires the addition of someone else who is immensely wealthy, in addition to Kroenke. I think that sticking point is why "insiders" are not predicting this as the most likely scenario.

It's easy to imagine Kroenke overpaying for the Raiders or Chargers like Steve Ballmer overpaid for the LA Clippers, but then who is going to pay about $1 billion to buy the Rams and keep them in St. Louis?

Aug. 16, 2015

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