Thursday, October 26, 2006

Referendum on Nifong

The News & Observer has released the results of a poll conducted last week regarding, among other issues, the election for Durham County District Attorney. The survey, which was conducted in the days immediately following the airing of the '60 Minutes’ expose of the Duke Hoax, shows interim District Attorney Mike Nifong with a considerable, yet not insurmountable lead.
“The poll, commissioned by The News & Observer and WRAL-TV, asked 600 likely voters in Durham County whom they would vote for in the district attorney's race. Of those polled, 46 percent said they would vote for Nifong. The incumbent's total far exceeded the 28 percent of respondents who said they would vote for county Commissioner Lewis Cheek. Two percent of those polled said they planned to vote for write-in candidate Steve Monks.”

“The poll, conducted between Oct. 16 and Oct. 19, found that 24 percent of those surveyed remained undecided, enough to change the outcome of the election, the most heated district attorney's race Durham has seen in years. The debate in a county that sees more than 50,000 new criminal cases every year has been almost entirely about charges leveled against three Duke University lacrosse players accused of raping an escort service dancer at a March party.”
“The poll, conducted by Research 2000 of Rockville, Md., has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.”
For those intent on removing Mike Nifong from office, the most significant impact of the poll would seem to be the end to the confusion created by the Monks’ campaign. In total, 12 people, of the 600 surveyed, responded with intentions to vote for Mr. Monks. Just last week, Monks’ senior campaign advisor, Cliff Brandt, went on the offensive with a guest editorial in The Chronicle promising, falsely it now appears, that Mr. Monks had the support of the approximately 27,000 registered Republican voters, and thus had realistic prospects of winning the election.
“There has been a curious notion floating around that Steve Monks cannot win this election. Of course he can win. And with the support of the countless Democratic and unaffiliated voters in Durham County … and with the support of the nearly 27,000 registered Republicans in the county who have elected Steve their party's chairman, Steve will win.”
If the poll conducted on behalf of the N&O and WRAL is any indication, it would appear that Mr. Brandt’s words were little more than wishful thinking. Despite Mr. Brandt’s assurances that Mr. Monks had the support of the Republican Party that he is the local chairman of, it appears that local Republicans have decided that Lewis Cheek offers a far more real opportunity for the removal of Mike Nifong from office than Mr. Monks. Of the 120 Republican voters surveyed, 53 support Lewis Cheek while 5 support DA Nifong, and only 3 stated intentions to vote for their party chairman.

What is most important to note about the Republican vote in terms of the overall poll results is that nearly half of Republican voters remain undecided. Considering that a staggering 87% of likely Republican voters who were not undecided indicated that they support Lewis Cheek, it would be reasonable to suspect that this overwhelming 87% margin will carry over to the undecided Republican voters as well now that it has been clearly demonstrated the local GOP chairman Monks is not a viable candidate.

Undeterred by the extremely low poll results, and contrary to the stated goal of defeating Mike Nifong, Monks and Brandt appear intent on wrestling as many undecided voters from Lewis Cheek as possible, as they continued the farce that is their campaign. Despite the overwhelming rejection by his own party, and voters in total, Mr. Monks had this to offer to the N&O in response to his 2% showing, and the extraordinary number of undecided voters:
"These undecided people, they know who Lewis Cheek is. They're not undecided over whether they're going to vote for Lewis Cheek or not," Monks said. "They want to vote for someone who is going to serve. Their obvious frustration is, either it's Mike [Nifong] or is Monks a viable candidate?"
While it is difficult to imagine that most voters have not yet formed an opinion of DA Nifong, as Mr. Monks suggests, his assertion that the undecided voters may have questioned his viability as a candidate appears to be on the money. The poll has answered the question on whether Mr. Monks is a viable candidate with a resounding, “No!”

If Mr. Brandt’s reaction at several blogs is any indication, the Monks campaign appears firmly intent on continuing with its message of confusion to the undecided voters. In response to either our critique of his manipulative pitch, the results of the polling, or both, Mr. Brandt launched multiple attacks on at least three blogs. His attacks were aimed squarely at this blog, the readers of KC Johnson’s blog, Lewis Cheek supporters, those wishing to see Anybody But Nifong as the next District Attorney of Durham County and anyone else he deemed inferior to himself. While we are uncertain whether his onslaught will successfully add to Mr. Monk’s 2% support, his campaign of arrogance appears intent on chipping away at any, and all, who have decided to work towards, advocate or vote for the removal of DA Nifong. Rather than the trite saying of "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em," Brandt's mantra appears to be, "If you can't beat 'em, insult 'em."
In a note to Ruth Sheehan at her Metro Blog left at 10:15pm, Mr. Brandt screams:
“As to my ever having been in the same room with Mike Nifong, I've never even seen the man in real life, but you can be sure that were I to find myself in the same room with him, I'd be out the door faster than you can say “utter illusion”, which is just what Lewis Cheek's candidacy is relative to best protecting the interests of the defendants in this case.”

“You may want to take a look at my post at Durham-in-Wonderland for my response to what’s been passing as thought on the issues here generally.”
“That game’s over; the people of Durham are waking up from their long slumber induced by the stupefying drumbeat of the Anybody But Nifong crowd who got the first part of the solution right—getting Nifong out of office—but seem to have somehow overlooked entirely the second, which is, of course, ensuring that whoever replaces Nifong will restore real fairness to this case. With thinking as poor as theirs has been to date, it’s a wonder to me that anybody actually takes them seriously anymore.” [Bold has been added, the arrogance remains as originally spewed]
Not surprisingly, Mr. Brandt continues with the pretense that the Monks campaign serves the interest of the three defendants. On the heels of the 2% showing of his candidate, Brandt bizarrely deems himself worthy of condescension in condemning the “utter illusion” and “stupefying drumbeat” of those who refuse to take his posturing seriously.
To their credit, Ruth’s readers weren’t buying what Brandt was selling. Comments included:
“2 %, Mr. Barndt? 2 %? Is that how many people take Mr. Monks seriously?”
“2% is less than the margin for error!!! 2%, Cliff! Monks can only help the Fong. The question is – is that the plan?”
“Your Perot-vian fantasy is over. Even Nader can do better than 2%, which is within the margin of error for the poll.”
From Ruth’s it appears the Mr. Brandt traveled here to take on LieStoppers' readers who expressed curiosity about Mr. Brandt by submitting:
“Cliff Brandt apparently left a comment at Durham in Wonderland:Horrifying - 8:47 PM post. I wonder if he has the guts and integrity to answer his critics.”
At 10:35pm, he left this ominous post for our anonymous friend:
“I’ve got more guts and integrity in one-tenth of my smallest fingernail right after I've clipped it tight than you’ve got in your entire body, hiding behind an anonymous posting and questioning another man’s guts and integrity. As to my response, you’ll find it here: A Response to the Sort of Drivel That's Been Passing for Thought These Days.”

At 3:04am, Brandt returned to make certain we were included in his condescension and ire.

"My thoughts on this blog's "analysis" of my recent editorial, "Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie?", as well as on related matters, can be found at KC Johnson's exponentially more honest blog, Durham-in-Wonderland, specifically at If You Can't Figure Out the Headline, It's Time to Stop Blogging and Head Back to High School (see 2:11 AM, today)."
Pleased to be in such fine company as Ruth’s readers and our own, we followed Mr. Brandt’s advice and peeked at what further nonsense he say fit to spew at Professor KC Johnson’s blog. Our curiosity was rewarded as we discovered that Brandt’s thirst for confrontation did not exclude Professor Johnson’s readers either.

Again, with stunning "superiority" without substance, Mr. Brandt attacks. This time we are included in his wrath:
"Gosh, and I thought someone clever enough to start a blog and call it Liestoppers, when—for all the distortions of the truth it contains among some occasionally decent analysis—it could just as well be called Liestarters, would be bright enough to deduce just from the headline of my editorial alone, "Defeating Nifong - Where Does Our Real Victory Lie", that it concerns itself with how best to defeat Nifong. Apparently not though, although all but a few got it right away."
(Don’t be so modest Cliff. People won’t recognize you if you do. Twelve is a dozen, not a few.)
“As to the Monks’ campaign, we’re astute enough to realize that trying to convince folks so impervious to reality that they’re still supporting Nifong to wake up to reality and support someone else is an utterly lost cause.”
(Is this an admission that Monks campaigns against Cheek and not against Nifong?)
“Now admittedly that issue is a tad more complex than who’s not Nifong, but the vast majority of folks in Durham County are smart enough to figure it out. Wish I could same for some of the bloggers (no offense intended to KC, who I do respect) and their ardent, if utterly thoughtless, supporters, a group whose ranks are thankfully diminishing with every passing day.”
“This ain’t rocket science, I promise. Although I suppose to folks who think that the truth is deceit (2:39 PM among them), it may be just too much to manage. But, hey, that’s OK, there’s a place in this world for folks like you too and Lewis wants your vote.”
Understandably, Mr. Brandt was annoyed with our rejection of his argument that Mr. Monks’ campaign was viable, and our suggestion that the write in campaign made Monks more of a Nifong’s “running mate” than a genuine opponent. With that in mind, we not only understand, but also appreciate, his frustration being directed our way. It is, however, far more difficult to understand his pretensions towards the voters he courts in such an odd manner. In light of the animosity it appears to have generated in return, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that perhaps, Mr. Brandt’s tact, or lack thereof, is not the most efficient way to win friends and influence people. As an astute Durham-in-Wonderland reader notes, it doesn’t take rocket science to evaluate the prospects of the failed write in campaign.
“Mr. Brandt. You don't need to know rocket science. Try simple math. Only 2% of Durham county voters plant to vote for Mr. Monks. Mr. Brandt, this is the real truth.”
Professor Johnson's take on the Monk campaign and Brandt pitch:
"Durham voters can cast their ballots for a spoiler write-in candidate, and thus ensure Nifong’s re-election. It's hard to win, at any time, for a write-in candidate. But there's little evidence that Monks backers, while sincere, have the organization necessary; and I'm unaware of any instance in American political history in the last 20 years where a candidate polling 2% two weeks out has won the election. There should be no doubt, especially for Duke students: for those interested in justice for the three students targeted by Nifong, given the dynamics of this race as they now stand, a vote for Monks is the equivalent of a vote for Nifong." Surveying the Poll Results [KC Johnson]
About all that remains to be seen, or heard, from Mr. Brandt and Mr. Monks is whether the concern they professed for the interests and the rights of the falsely accused was sincere, or whether their true intention all along has been to work towards Nifong’s election. Based on the above observations, and those we have previously expressed, you know what our guess is on that question. In this instance, we hope that we are wrong.

DA Nifong's reaction to the results of the poll were equally bizarre.
"Nifong, who has been highly criticized for his handling of the affair, has tried to emphasize his long career beyond the single case. He said Tuesday that the intense focus on the lacrosse case has come from a small but vocal group, many of whom will not be voting Nov. 7."

"The people that are likely to have that kind of strong feeling about the lacrosse case and who believe it is the only thing that is truly of importance are not likely to be Durham residents," Nifong said. "I think I really have never thought that a DA's race for the vast majority of the electorate would be a single issue."
Considering that the poll indicates that the majority of Durham County voters do not support DA Nifong, his perception, that his opposition comes from a "small but vocal group, many of whom will not be voting November 7," appears to be false. Not only does the poll show that 54% of likely voters do not support his bid to remain in office, the survey also indicated that only 14% of these same voters have positive impressions of the effect the Hoax has had on Durham and Duke. Despite the fact that the Recall Nifong - Vote Cheek grassroots movement has clearly succeeded in making this election a referendum on Nifong, he continues to hope that voters will overlook the cloud of prosecutorial misconduct that has defined his brief term as District Attorney. If ever there was a local District Attorney's race to be decided upon one issue, the issue of whether an electorate decides to accept or reject prosecutorial misconduct, this referendum on Nifong appears to be it.

Running against an ineffectual write in campaign and the idea that he must be removed from office, DA Nifong has failed to convince the majority of the electorate to overlook his continued transgressions. As an incumbent running against, virtually, no one, DA Nifong appears set to fail to secure 50% of the vote.

DA Nifong appears intent on continuing his campaign of silence. Having previously declined to participate in candidate forums, Nifong also declined to interview about the election with a local TV station. As KC Johnson notes, Nifong's strategy appears to be to avoid the difficult questions and to ignore the voters.

"Nifong isn’t even bothering to reach out to Durham County voters; he actually refused an interview request on the race from one local TV station—an extraordinary action for a candidate seeking any elective office." Surveying the Poll Results [KC Johnson]
The reaction to the poll results from the RN-VC camp appears to be quite different than the anger, arrogance and delusion expressed by the Monks campaign and the indifference shared by Nifong.

From the N&O:
"Jackie Brown, Nifong's former campaign manager and one of the four organizers who helped get Cheek on the ballot, said the poll results could help change the election."

"Hopefully, this poll will be a wake-up call to the undecideds. I think it will energize some of the folks who would otherwise stay at home -- otherwise they're going to have four more years of Mike Nifong."
"I think a good portion of those undecided voters are probably undecided between Monks and Cheek," said Beth Brewer, spokeswoman for the Committee to Recall Nifong-Vote Cheek."
Mrs. Brewer noted, by email, that RN-VC was encouraged by the results of exit polling conducted by her volunteers as early "no excuse" voting began last Thursday. While Brewer did not release the specifics of her polling, she did state, "The comments and support from the early voters have been encouraging. Our exit polls indicate that Lewis Cheek leads at this point." An estimated 500 to 600 early votes have been cast.

With eleven days until November 7, it appears that the outcome of the election remains in the hands of the undecided. Our expectation is that many, if not most, of the undecided voters have been waiting to assess the viability of the Monks campaign. With that uncertainty now put to rest, it would appear that the anti-Nifong portion of the undecided voters will know that backing the Recall Nifong effort by supporting Lewis Cheek is the only possibility of removing Nifong from office on November 7. With that confusion now clarified, the election has truly become a referendum on Nifong.


gc said...

This is a great. Thanks for clarifying the numbers for us. I was unaware of what Ruth said. Thanks as sometimes it hard to keep up. Her comment about 'Anybody but Nifong' was music to my ears.

If Nifong can find Precious, she might be one more vote for him. But then maybe she will vote for Anybody but Nifong,too.

gc said...

Sorry for the second post. This was meant as a continuation of the above post.

If 2% of 12 people voted for Monks, let see there is Monks, his mother, brother and campaign manager. So who are the other 8 fools?

Anonymous said...

What exactly did Ruth say? When and where?

Anonymous said...

So, 87% of local Republicans favor Cheek but the local Republican party chairman campaigns against him and for Nifong? WTF. Let's hope the local Republicans remember that when it's time to pick the next chairman. Will some then say Anybody But Monks?

emmy said...

Cliff hopefully has no delusions of moving on to bigger and better oppurtunities with regards to political campaigns...he's as small-time as they come!


sweetmick said...

No, Ruth NEVER said, "anybody but Nifong". And I think we should stop wasting time on red herrings, such as Monks and Brandt. Nifong wins because he will get approximately 95% of the black vote and 90% of the white left wing vote. The N&O and the Herald Sun will NOT come out against Nifong. These people want it to go to trial; so Nifong wins. Thus, our only hope, as it has been for quite a while, is the defense la jurors the wyers and their yet to be heard motions. Can they convince the judge that Nifong committed prejudicial misconduct so egregious that these baseless charges must be dropped.If they are not successful, then we go to trial, where Nifong will ultimately get 12 jurors that will make the O.J. jury look honest, fair, objective,unbiased and rational.

Anonymous said...

I've read this post three times now and cannot see where it says Ruth has said anything or where there is a reference to anything she may have said (other than in the comments here). Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone given any thought to the possibility that, should Cheek win, a new appointed DA will NOT drop the charges and will continue on with the case? After all, they are all democrats and have their own agenda and will not want to offend the black community who so wants these white boys to be guilty.


Anonymous said...

Twaddlefree: If Cheek doesn't win, Nifong does. Of course the Governor will appoint a Dem, but it won't be Nifong. Suggesting the case won't be dropped by any other prosecutor is suggesting that Nifong actually has a case and that it wasn't brought based on nothing.

Anonymous said...

Nifong went nuts when the defense polled 300 people. Why is he silent now that 600 more have been polled?

Anonymous said...

maybe because that poll was a "push poll" in which the defense points were being read to the person polled; it was not really to assess what the person thought, it ws to get the defense points across. this poll is a typical real opinion poll and it shows that the people of durham are not falling for the defense tactics.

Anonymous said...

9:11 Are you talking about poll that Judge Smith ruled was ok? Nifong's bogus motion was denied four weeks ago, on September 26. Judge Smith ruled that the poll was the opposite of what you suggest here and the opposite of what Nifong and his wife falsely claimed. Why try to keep his lie alive?