Alleged Polling Firm is "McHenry County's best choice for billboard advertising since 1982"
Maine U.S. Senate Candidate Sara Gideon's supporters are distributing a poll claiming Gideon holds a 9-point lead over incumbent U.S. Senator Susan Collins.
Here's what you need to know:
- The polling firm, Victory Geek LLC, has no history of actual previous campaign polling outside of one state legislative race in Illinois.
- Victory Geek LLC is run by the owner of an Illinois billboard and storage facility company.
- The poll was commissioned by a Maine-based anti-Collins political organization.
- The poll inexplicably shows longshot Democratic primary candidate with close ties to the commissioning organization beating Collins, despite only spending $200,000.
About Victory Geek LLC
There is very little information available about the alleged polling firm. Their website, https://victorygeek.com/, provides no contact information or background, and appears to have been abandoned part way through its "devemopment" [sic].
According to LinkedIn, the firm's owner, Bryan Todd, is also the president and owner of Liberty Outdoor Advertising, inc, an Illinois billboard company.
Liberty Outdoor Advertising's website, https://liberty365.com/ , features a link to the Victory Geek website:
Victory Geek LLC's Twitter profile identifies the firm as a dba of Liberty Media, and has only one tweet, posted in 2017:
According to public records, Victory Geek LLC shares an office with both Liberty Outdoor Advertising and Liberty Self Storage:
Victory Geek LLC does not show up in any Federal Election Commission reports. The only official campaign references to the company appear to be three different local races in Illinois, where they provided robocall services for state legislative candidate Tom Weber, "computer services" for state legislative candidate John Cabello, and robocall and low-dollar phone polling for Circuit Judge candidate Robert Wilbrandt jr.
About Swing Hard Run Left
Swing Hard Run Left is the political organization that claims to have commissioned the poll from the billboard and self-storage company with no real polling background. The organization is run by former Portland mayor Ethan Strimling, and his political attaché Steven Biel.
Biel is a professional political fundraiser, and provides online fundraising services to progressive groups in Maine targeting Senator Collins. Biel has a history of similar scorched-earth political tactics that have resulted in severe backlash against his candidates, including Strimling's third-place finish in his reelection campaign, and the state senate campaign of Diane Russell. Russell, the incumbent state representative for her district, finished in last place after a shady pamphleting effort raised the ire of constituents.
In 2017, Biel was involved with a similarly shady effort to propagate a fake poll during a Portland City Council election.
Biel is also tied to the groups that have raised more than $4 million for Collins' eventual Democratic opponent.
About the poll
The Victory Geek poll was released by Strimling in his weekly column in the Bangor Daily News. It showed Gideon ahead of Collins by nine points, and also inexplicably showed Democrat Betsy Sweet, who has spent roughly $200,000 total in her senate race, beating Collins as well.
Coincidentally, both Strimling and Biel are close political allies of Sweet, and were active in her campaign for Governor in 2018.
The column's publication triggered a rapid response within the pro-Gideon echo chamber. Strimling sent a fundraising email out citing the column as if it were not him who authored it or commissioned the poll. Mainers for Accountable Leadership, another Portland progressive anti-Collins group with close ties to Biel, sent a similar email at the same time. The Maine Democratic Party sent it out in an email, Biel himself tweeted about the poll, and so did the Gideon campaign.
538.com published the poll, it was posted on DailyKos.com, and even the Wikipedia page for the 2020 Maine Senate Race was updated to include the poll immediately after it was published in the Bangor Daily.
The release of this poll was a coordinated hit job. The polling firm is unknown, and the party that commissioned it has a history of underhanded tactics. Legitimate news organizations should check the credentials of the polling company and the commissioning organization before publishing such an obvious piece of political propaganda.