The “polls” (such as they are) run against Nikki’s “idiotic” move to replace Darla

First and foremost, a thing where you go online and click “yes” or “no” to a current-events question is not a POLL, in any meaningful sense. It has no statistical significance. If you don’t have a properly constructed sample, with the right elements of randomness and screening questions (“are you the head of household, etc.”), you cannot extrapolate that the result you obtain indicates what you would get if the entire population, or electorate, answered the question.

A self-selected sample doesn’t cut it, not by a long shot. It’s a great way to invite readers/viewers to sound off — they like that — but it doesn’t generally give you much, if anything, to base conclusions on.

Still… my eyebrows raised when I saw this “poll” result over at the WLTX Facebook page:

Yeah, I know — 244 respondents, which makes a self-selected survey even MORE meaningless. But it still surprised me. Because for the last few days, any time someone says “This is going to cost her,” I say they are totally wrong, that Nikki made the calculation that her base wouldn’t care (or would even applaud, being so anti-elitist), and therefore she’s fine — from her perspective (certainly not from South Carolina’s).

It’s one thing for all the folks I run into at the Capital City Club to be shocked and appalled. One expects that, and Nikki Haley couldn’t care less. But this kind of populist thing should draw out the Haley fan club. For that matter, particularly with such low participation, it would be so easy to stack (which is the biggest reason you don’t regard self-selected “polls” as serious).

This result has NO statistical significance, but it’s SO lopsided. At the very least, it indicates a lack of eagerness on the part of her peeps to jump out and defend her. (I mean, did even ardent fan Eleanor Kitzman vote?) The way they rushed to back her on the WACH-Fox thing. What happened to that default mode of “If the elites and the media say it about our gal, it’s WRONG! And we’re gonna run out and shout it!”?

By the way, for what it’s worth… the latest WLTX nonpoll asked, “Should the U.S. have used force in Libya?” So far, this is how it’s going:

Yep, a dead heat. So far. And I figured that would be a blowout on the “yes” side. Because, you know, that’s something it looked like we had some consensus on before we went in. Of course, that consensus was among elites — including leading liberals who might otherwise oppose military action — and this is far from that. But that’s the factor that I thought would help Nikki on such a “poll” — at least to even things out for her. And it didn’t.

Once again, you can throw all of this out and you will have lost nothing of value — no methodology, tiny numbers. But it DID strike me as interesting, because it was such a blowout. And that’s all it is — interesting.

So I greeted this item from Columbia Regional Business Report in much the same spirit:

Staff Report
Published March 21, 2011

Gov. Nikki Haley made a grave misstep by removing philanthropist Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina’s board of trustees, said a vast majority of the people who responded to a two-day poll on the Daily Report.

Haley had few supporters of her move with only 7.1% saying they approve of her decision to replace Moore with Lexington attorney Tommy Cofield, who financially supported Haley’s campaign.

However, 78.8% want Moore back on the board; 44.2% of the respondents said Haley needs to admit her mistake and reinstate Moore, while 34.6% said the General Assembly should rectify the situation and by electing Moore to the board.

The remaining 14.1% asked who Tommy Cofield is.

Comments were fairly consistent, with the majority saying the move was “idiotic.”…

There was no methodology mentioned, so I figured this was an informal survey. I double-checked with CRBR Publisher Bob Bouyea, and he confirmed, “Informal poll.” Of course. No one in SC media has money to run real polls on the spur of the moment these days.

But I did find some of the comments interesting. Of course, they were fairly typical of what I’ve been hearing among the business movers and shakers, which is the same circle CRBR moves in.

As I say, interesting. Thought you might find it all interesting, too.

17 thoughts on “The “polls” (such as they are) run against Nikki’s “idiotic” move to replace Darla

  1. Brad

    By the way, sort of in the same vein… Jack Kuenzie noted earlier today that more than 2,400 people have “Liked” the Facebook page, “Students for the Reinstatement of Miss Darla Moore.”

    A bit later, Jack added, “It turns out, there are at least four Darla Moore support pages. One has almost 4,600 likes. We also now have an ‘Impeach Nikki Haley’ page.”

    For what that’s worth. Seems that the social media that we hear Nikki is happy to use to bypass the MSM can just as easily be used against her. But we knew that, didn’t we? Oh yes, the crowd can be fickle…

  2. Ralph Hightower

    I thought that Mark Sanford was a bone-headed governor.

    Nikki Haley is topping Mark Sanford in bone-headedness.

    I wonder how long it will take before she appoints her hubby, Michael, as president of Clemson.

    Time to start the Nikki Haley countdown: 1394 days, 18 hours, 34 minutes, 36 seconds, 341 milliseconds

  3. Steven Davis

    One question I can not get an exact answer to is what percentage of Board of Trustee meetings Moore attended and what percentage she missed. I have a credible source that say the numbers aren’t even close, that she missed many more than she attended. I’m sure if someone had the time and money they could request a FOIA and calculate the total themselves. But for now, “many more missed” will do it for me.

  4. Brad

    That’s a red herring, Steven. It’s a straw to grab at for people who really, really want to defend this indefensible move by the governor.

    Yeah, I heard that Darla “missed” a lot of meetings — meaning that she joined some meetings by teleconference rather than traveling here. Which doesn’t mean much, since I also saw plenty of signs that she was as involved in the board’s business as much as anyone, if not more than most.

  5. Steven Davis

    Okay… since it differs from your view I’m grasping at straws. And who said I’m defending this decision.

    Are people who attend by teleconference or videoconference marked absent in your meetings?

    Getting attendance records will tell the truth of whether she was involved or not. Getting press every time she comes to Columbia doesn’t mean “involvement” in my book. It just means the media is awestruck by her.

  6. Ralph Hightower

    I am hoping that the public will get so ticked off with the Tea Baggers that they’ll be voted out quicker than Newt Gingrich’s “Contract with America”.

  7. Mark Stewart

    A Board of Trustees ought to be composed of people who demonstrate a commitment to securing a brighter future for an organization, today, next year and decades hence. This is especially relevant for not-for-profits and educational institutions.

    Packing the boardrooms with political appointees who regard the position as plums to enhance their own careers (with payback to their politician appointers) clearly showns that the State of South Carolina is not committed to burnishing the quality of its educational institutions. Why should anyone else care about them? Obviously, Darla Moore did. I’m not saying other members aren’t also committed to the University to which they serve; but simply that the appointers themselves have shown that they do not.

  8. Kathryn Fenner (D- SC)

    A huge chunk of what Darla Moore brings to the Board of Trustees is her checkbook. Some boards are working boards and some are money boards. Given how starved USC is for cash, if she wants to participate by writing a check, I’m all for it.

  9. Rose

    You don’t need to file a FOIA to find out who was in attendance. All of the BOT minutes through 2010 are freely available on the Board of Trustees website. Just click on the Minutes Archives and there they are. The very first section is a list of who was in attendance.

  10. Rose

    I went ahead and looked at the 2010 full board meetings. There were 11 meetings in 2010. Darla Moore was present for 8 of them.

  11. tim

    I think that it will be a LOOOONNNGGG time before you see or hear from the First Gentleman on anything. I think they have him sufficiently sequestered so that he will continue to be the complete Non-Entity he has already been.

  12. Steven Davis

    @Rose, You should have looked a little deeper. In 2009, she attended 2 of 7 meetings. In other years I looked at she was around 50% in attendance.

    Would you hold onto your job if you showed up 50% (or less) of the time?

  13. Doug Ross


    Thanks for the research. It’s a figurehead job. I’m sure whatever Darla Moore wants to see happen will happen at USC. For reference, look what happened with the architect selection process for the new school of business. USC basically wasted the efforts of several firms who submitted designs and went with Darla’s choice. (Which was well within her rights).

  14. Barry

    @Steven –

    I can’t imagine any company or organization that “marks absent” someone that is present by teleconference. That doesn’t even make sense.

    In my company (a Fortune 100 Company), our meetings are now held almost exclusively by teleconference with video. (Our management team is made up of managers and VP level folks in different states)

    We have a weekly call with my supervisor. My supervisor has his management meeting on teleconference every week.

    It’s really routine, especially for someone who is travelling on business or who may even be out of the country.

  15. Barry

    @ Steven – one more

    If her not being physically present for enough board meetings was the issue, there would be a number of board members that would have been dismissed over the years.

    That’s why your argument is a red herring.

  16. Steven Davis

    I never said she was recorded as “absent” if she joined by teleconference. In fact, they are recorded in Members Present” with (by telephone) if they do call in.

    Absent means not present and not calling in.

    Red herring or Rainbow Trout, if she’s not there for the meeting in any fashion she’s “absent”.

  17. Barry

    The red herring is trying to make it an issue of not attending meetings.

    If she was a problem on the board as far as not giving her requested input, or avoding her responsibilities, that would be a good reason to dismiss her.

    But there is not even a hint of that sort of displeasure with her anywhere at all.

    She simply didn’t have the “fresh eyes” that the other governor appointee that has just been renominated – a 76 year old, almost 20 year board member.

    (The real reason she was replaced was that she doesn’t agree that USC needs to focus on admitting more in state students since our ratio is already very high (higher then Clemson). She also doesn’t believe that we need to commit to keeping tuition “low” if the General Assembly isn’t going to commit to funding USC at any decent level).

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