Republicans put Schoen to good use

A couple of weeks ago, pollster Doug Schoen, the quintessential “Fox News Democrat” — an alleged Dem who’s actively hostile towards the party and its agenda — wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed trashing Occupy Wall Street protesters. Schoen even urged President Obama to steer clear of these “radical” activists for his own good. (Given that Schoen has already urged the president to drop out of the 2012 race, one might question whether the DINO has Obama’s best interest at heart.)

To put it mildly, Schoen’s analysis was deeply flawed. To prove his case, Schoen pointed to the results of a poll he conducted in New York’s Zuccotti Park and found that 77% of the activists supported raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans. That wasn’t shocking — 76% of the national population said the same thing.

Worse, Schoen argued that the activists oppose “free-market capitalism and support… radical redistribution of wealth,” when in fact his own research suggested otherwise and he grossly misrepresented the results of his own work.

So, Schoen’s research was quickly dismissed by serious people everywhere, right? Well, it depends on what you mean by “serious.” Greg Sargent reports today on a new attack ad from Karl Rove’s attack operation, Crossroads GPS, which used Schoen’s suspect analysis to smear Elizabeth Warren.

The new Crossroads ad … claims: “Fourteen million Americans out of work. But instead of focusing on jobs, Elizabeth Warren sides with extreme left protests.” Of course, Warren’s message, and that of the protests themselves, is all about jobs and unemployment.

This is the most transparent effort yet to use the protests’ theatrical extremes to divert the focus from their — and her — actual populist prescriptions, critique of inequality, and diagnosis of our financial crisis, which polls suggest blue collar whites actually agree with.

The ad then doubles down on this effort with an egregious distortion, claiming the protesters “support radical redistribution of wealth.” The ad’s source for that claim is that recent Doug Schoen Op ed that got so much attention for making that claim.

Got that? Schoen made a bogus claim; the claim was debunked with real evidence; and Rove’s operation uses the debunked claim to smear Warren.

Also note, Dave Weigel highlights a new anti-Occupy ad from the Massachusetts Republican Party, which uses a different Schoen quote to smear both Warren and the protestors. (The GOP ad describes Schoen on screen as a “Democratic pollster,” which is obviously intended to mislead the viewer.)

As Ari Berman put it, “At this point, it seems like Doug Schoen exists to be quoted in GOP attack ads against Democrats.” Quite right. Any outlet describing Schoen as a “Democrat” without context or asterisks is misleading the public.