Political Insider

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National GOP nudges campaigns to drop pollster for Cantor (and Kingston and Deal)

WASHINGTON -- The Hill newspaper is out with an article this afternoon saying the National Republican Congressional Committee has urged U.S. House candidates not to use John McLaughlin, the pollster who whiffed on Majority Leader Eric Cantor's re-election.

McLaughlin's firm is also used by several big-name Georgia Republicans, including Gov. Nathan Deal and Senate hopeful Jack Kingston. From The Hill:

Sources close to the National Republican Congressional Committee hear that the House GOP’s campaign arm will encourage their candidates to reassess whether they should be using McLaughlin in several top races.

"It's safe to say the candidates that currently have him on staff are going to be asking a lot of questions going forward," said one national Republican strategist.

“Campaigns are going to make their own decisions. People will look and see and if John can make a case to the campaigns about why he got Virginia so wrong and can still get their race right,” said another.

McLaughlin's client list seems to have shrunk after a rough 2012 season, but he continues to work on some key campaigns. ...

No Republicans wanted to go on-record to criticize McLaughlin and add insult to injury. But many who've worked with him, including some who called him a friend, say they weren't surprised his polling for Cantor was off, though they marveled at how wrong it was. His 2012 track record was perhaps the worst of any major pollster in a year where many in the GOP missed the mark.

“I don't understand how he wasn't run out of the business years ago,” said one GOP strategist who’s overlapped on a few races with McLaughlin. “Every pollster once in their career has gotten something wildly wrong. But this [Cantor poll] was really wild, and he very consistently gets it wildly wrong.”

Kingston, for one, is standing by McLaughlin.

“Our internal numbers were spot on,” campaign manager Chris Crawford said this week, “in the face of public polls even up to the day before the primary, which showed us in third.”

UPDATE: 6:30 p.m. Georgia GOP consultant Joel McElhannon weighs in in McLaughlin's defense via email:

<blockquote>"I have worked with John McLaughlin on countless campaigns. He has 30+ years of hard earned experience that I trust.

This typical DC two-step of anonymous quotes from competitors and enemies with an axe to grind is silly and pathetic.

McLaughlin's track record here in Georgia is truly impressive. It speaks for itself, and I will continue to rely on John's expertise anytime I am in a tough campaign."

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