Frank Luntz: Wikis

  
  
  

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Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz at the 2009 Texas Book Festival
Born February 23, 1962 (1962-02-23) (age 48)
Nationality American
Education University of Pennsylvania
Oxford University
Occupation Communication Consultant and Political Pollster
Website
www.theworddoctors.com

Frank I. Luntz (born February 23, 1962) is an American political consultant and pollster.[1] His most recent work has been with the Fox News Channel as a frequent commentator and analyst, as well as running focus groups after presidential debates. Luntz' specialty is “testing language and finding words that will help his clients sell their product or turn public opinion on an issue or a candidate.”[2] He is also an author of business books dealing with communication strategies and public opinion. Luntz' current company, The Word Doctors, specializes in message creation and image management for commercial and political clients.

Contents

Background

Luntz grew up in West Hartford, CT and graduated from Hall High School (Connecticut). He is the son of Lester L. Luntz, D.D.S., a forensic dentist, and Phyllis Luntz and grandson of Benjamin Luntz D.D.S.

Frank graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and received his Doctorate in Politics from Oxford University.

Luntz has appeared as a consultant or panel member on a number of television news shows, including: Capital Gang, Crossfire, Good Morning America, Hannity and Colmes, Hardball with Chris Matthews, Meet the Press, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, Nightline, The O'Reilly Factor, Real Time With Bill Maher and The Today Show.

Luntz has written op-eds for such publications as: The Financial Times, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

Luntz was an Adjunct Professor at the University of Pennsylvania from 1990 until 1996 and also taught at George Washington University and The American University.

Publications

Dr. Luntz is the author of the 2007 New York Times Best Seller "Words That Work: It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear." His most recent book, "What Americans Really Want ... Really: The Truth About Our Hopes, Dreams and Fears," climbed to #6 on the New York Times Business Best Sellers list.

Use of language

Luntz frequently uses focus groups and interviews to decide which words and phrases to use. In an article in The New Yorker Luntz is quoted as saying, "The way my words are created is by taking the words of others — average Americans, not politicians. I've moderated an average of a hundred plus focus groups a year over five years... I show them language that I've created. Then I leave a line for them to create language for me."[3]

In a January 9, 2007, interview on Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Luntz redefined the term "Orwellian" in a positive sense, saying that if one reads Orwell's Essay On Language (presumably referring to Politics and the English Language), "To be 'Orwellian' is to speak with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening… and to do so without any pejorative whatsoever."[4]

Soon thereafter on the same program, he discussed his use of the term, "energy exploration" (oil drilling). His research on the matter involved showing people a picture of current oil drilling and asking if in the picture it "looks like exploration or drilling." He said that 90 percent of the people he spoke to said it looked like exploring. "Therefore I'd argue that it is a more appropriate way to communicate." He went on to say "if the public says after looking at the pictures, that doesn't look like my definition of drilling—it looks like my definition of exploring—then don't you think we should be calling it what people see it to be, rather than adding a political aspect to it all?" Terry Gross responded: "Should we be calling it what it actually is, as opposed to what somebody thinks it might be? The difference between exploration and actually getting out the oil—they're two different things, aren't they?"[4]

Global warming

Although Luntz later tried to distance himself from the Bush administration policy, it was his idea that administration communications reframe "global warming" as "climate change" since "climate change" was thought to sound less severe. Luntz has since said that he is not responsible for what the administration has done since that time. Though he now believes humans have contributed to global warming, he maintains that the science was in fact incomplete, and his recommendation sound, at the time he made it.[5]

In a 2002 memo to President George W. Bush titled "The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America", obtained by the Environmental Working Group, Luntz wrote: "The scientific debate is closing [against us] but not yet closed. There is still a window of opportunity to challenge the science...Voters believe that there is no consensus about global warming within the scientific community. Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate, and defer to scientists and other experts in the field."[6]

In 2010, Luntz announced new research that shows the American people are eager for Congress to act on climate legislation that would promote energy independence and a healthier environment. "Americans want their leaders to act on climate change – but not necessarily for the reasons you think," Luntz said. "A clear majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. This is true of McCain voters and Obama voters alike. And even those that don't still believe it is essential for America to pursue policies that promote energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment. In reference to recent political events, Luntz added: "People are much more interested in seeing solutions than watching yet another partisan political argument." [7]

2005 UK Conservative leadership election

In 2005 Luntz carried out a focus group on the Conservative leadership race on the BBC current affairs show Newsnight. The focus group's overwhelmingly positive reaction to David Cameron was seen by many as crucial in making him the favorite in a crowded field. Cameron was the eventual victor.[8] In March 2007, Newsnight invited him back to gauge comparative opinions on Cameron, Gordon Brown and Sir Menzies Campbell in the city of Birmingham.

2007 Irish general elections

Dr Luntz carried out a focus group research with the Irish state broadcaster RTE to gather the opinions of the Irish people before the May 24th 2007 general elections. RTÉ hoped to show viewers some of the campaigning techniques the political parties were using without their knowledge.[9]

2007 Australian federal election

Another focus group of swing voters was analysed by Luntz in the lead-up to the November poll between the ruling Coalition and the opposition Labor party. Like the Irish scenario, the Coalition was well established, presiding over the country for 11 years and overseeing continued economic growth for much of that period. He noted that unlike the lead-up to the Irish elections, Australia had a stronger and more popular Opposition leader in Kevin Rudd: "This is much closer to the Irish election where the leader just barely scraped in, Bertie Ahern, because the economy was so good. But the big difference there was the opposition leader was not as good as Kevin Rudd." Luntz was brought in to conduct his research in a collaborative effort by Sky News Australia and The Australian newspaper.[10]

Criticism

In 1997, he was reprimanded by the American Association for Public Opinion Research for refusing to release poll data to support his claimed results "because of client confidentiality". Diane Colasanto, who was president of the AAPOR when it reprimanded Luntz, said

It is simply wanting to know, How many people did you question? What were the questions? We understand the need for confidentiality, but once a pollster makes results public, the information needs to be public. People need to be able to evaluate whether it was sound research.[11]

In 2000 he was censured by the National Council on Public Polls "for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention." In September 2004, MSNBC dropped Luntz from its planned coverage of that year's presidential debate, following a letter from Media Matters that outlined Luntz's GOP ties and questionable polling methodology.[12][13]

In the wake of the 2008 Presidential election, fellow Republican and prominent pollster Bill McInturff criticized Luntz before journalists at a National Journal Breakfast, insisting that Luntz is "a moron" and lambasting him for mocking Senator McCain's inability to use a Blackberry, which McInturff attributed to the injuries that McCain sustained while a prisoner of war in Vietnam.[14]

Bibliography

References

  1. ^ http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=130628F1-18FE-70B2-A81BBE8E2316F81D
  2. ^ "Interview Frank Luntz". PBS Frontline. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuaders/interviews/luntz.html. Retrieved 2007-03-23. 
  3. ^ Lemann, Nicholas (October 16, 2000), "The Word Lab: The mad Science Behind What the Candidates Say", The New Yorker 
  4. ^ a b Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Frank Luntz Explains 'Words That Work', January 9, 2007. Retrieved June 28, 2007.
  5. ^ "Climate chaos: Bush's climate of fear". [TV Programme]. UK: BBC. 2006. 
  6. ^ Memo exposes Bush's new green strategy
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "How a celebrity pollster created Cameron" by Nick Cohen, The Observer, 10 December 2006
  9. ^ "The Luntz Effect". Irish Election. 2006-12-10. http://www.irishelection.com/12/the-luntz-effect/. 
  10. ^ Voters may return to Howard The Australian
  11. ^ Chinni, Dante (2000-05-26). "Why should we trust this man?". Salon.com. http://dir.salon.com/story/politics/feature/2000/05/26/luntz/index.html?pn=1. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  12. ^ Morin, Richard (2000-08-28). "Famous for 15 Minutes". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/wat/archive/wat082800.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-30. 
  13. ^ Luntz not appearing in Dem Forum Media Matters June 27, 2007
  14. ^ Sam Stein, McCain Pollster Explains Loss, Calls Frank Luntz a Moron, Huffington Post (November 20, 2008), at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/11/20/mccain-pollster-explains_n_145139.html.

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