Rand Paul is the first Republican to put together a campaign network in all 50 states in preparation for a 2016 presidential campaign, according to The Washington Post. Paul’s pitch to a more centrist national audience includes hiring Wenzel Strategies, a polling group lead by Fritz Wenzel, a conspiracy theorist who has been dubbed “the pollster that’s always wrong”. Wenzel confirmed the hire to ThinkProgress on Tuesday morning.
Fritz Wenzel and Wenzel Strategies are familiar names to the Republican Party and fringe conservative organizations. Rand Paul joins a clientele list that includes his father, former Texas Rep. Ron Paul (R) during his 2012 presidential campaign, World Net Daily, a conspiracy news site that has pushed birther theories about President Obama’s citizenship, the Family Research Council, and Congressman Vance McAllister (R-LA), who made news recently by inviting Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson to the 2014 State of the Union Address in the wake of Robertson’s father’s suspension from their A&E television show for homophobic remarks.
Wenzel, a birther, has been behind a number of questionable polls. In its work for World Net Daily, Wenzel Strategies has asserted that only 51 percent of Americans believed President Obama was eligible to be President. “Our polling shows that the questions surrounding Barack Obama’s eligibility to serve as president clearly strike a nerve across America, probably because it is a problem that everybody understands,” Wenzel said at the time. “Every American citizen has a birth certificate, and once in a while we all have to produce them to get a drivers license or gain entrance to school…And while Obama did get in to the White House, nearly half the country’s adults — 49 percent — are troubled by this issue and still want him to produce his official long-form birth certificate.”
Wenzel also conducted a poll finding 53 percent of respondents want the President impeached over the death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi. Wenzel has also called Obama an “imposter.”
Paul may want to proceed with caution based on his pollster’s shaky record. Wenzel Strategies also conducted polls on the 2012 Missouri Senate race between Claire McCaskill and Todd Akin, paid for by the Family Research Council. The Wenzel polls maintained that Akin of “legitimate rape” infamy would emerge the victor in 2012; however, McCaskill ended up winning by 16 points. Wenzel also predicted 2012 GOP Senate wins in Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin, all of which went to Democrats. Should Paul emerge victorious in the primaries, he would do well to learn from the 2012 Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, what happens when a campaign trusts inaccurate polling data.
Mason Atkins is an intern for Think Progress.