03/03/2014 05:45 pm ET Updated Mar 03, 2014

HUFFPOLLSTER: Mark Penn Makes A Move At Microsoft

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Following reports of infighting, Mark Penn becomes Microsoft's 'chief strategy officer.' The HuffPost/YouGov poll finds little support for U.S. intervention in Ukraine. And we're feeling cranky about the term 'frontrunner.' Maybe it's the cold. This is HuffPollster for Monday, March 3, 2014.

MARK PENN'S STAR RISES AT MICROSOFT - Nick Wingfield: "In the biggest shuffling of Microsoft’s executive ranks since the company’s new chief executive, Satya Nadella, took over, Mark Penn, the former aide to the Clinton family, is becoming the company’s chief strategy officer. The change will give Mr. Penn, who has been an executive vice president at Microsoft overseeing advertising and strategy, a bigger hand in determining which markets Microsoft should be in and where it should be making further investments, according to a person briefed on the change who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it had not been publicly announced. Tami Reller, the company’s executive vice president for marketing, who shared leadership of advertising and marketing at Microsoft, will leave the company...Mr. Penn’s new role at Microsoft is the most surprising, given his background as a political operative and pollster who built his reputation in the other Washington — D.C., not Washington State, where Microsoft is based. While a polarizing figure within Microsoft, as in politics, he became a trusted adviser to Mr. Ballmer, and now is poised to do the same for Mr. Nadella." [NYTimes]

Or does it? - Kara Swisher: "Apparently, Penn will get more strategery duties — if you spin it one way for the controversial former political operative, it is a promotion, and if you spin it another, it’s a demotion. In the new set-up, he will apparently look at new product areas and strategic investments for Microsoft. So, overall, it seems like a pretty lateral move to me, but with less teeth (and Penn can sure bite!). In any case, Penn will remain on the Senior Leadership Team, called SLT inside the company, for those who report directly to Nadella....Reller’s departure was not unexpected, given she had been matched by Ballmer in a classic and problematic two-in-a-box face-off with Penn, a set-up that had become uncomfortable and, increasingly, untenable. As I wrote: 'Reller took the job, of course, knowing the score, but apparently was focused on balancing Penn’s more aggressive tendencies.'" [Recode]

LITTLE SUPPORT FOR U.S. INTERVENTION IN UKRAINE - Emily Swanson: "Few Americans want the United States getting involved in policing the political turmoil in Ukraine, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds, even though a plurality say they think Russia's military incursion into the country qualifies as an invasion. Americans are more likely than not to say that the United States has no responsibility to get involved in Ukraine even under extreme circumstances, the new survey shows. Forty-six percent said the United States has no responsibility to protect Ukraine in the case of a Russian invasion, while only 18 percent said it does. Thirty-six percent said they weren't sure. Pluralities of Democrats, Republicans and independents agreed that the U.S. does not have a responsibility to protect Ukraine. By a 42 percent to 17 percent margin, a plurality of Americans in the poll, which was conducted as events in Ukraine were unfolding over the weekend, said that Russia has already invaded Ukraine. Forty-one percent said they're not sure." [HuffPost]

HOME OWNERSHIP LESS INTEGRAL TO THE 'AMERICAN DREAM' - V. Dion Haynes, Peyton Craighill and Scott Clement: "Homeownership, once a cornerstone of the American Dream, has taken a big hit in public esteem, according to a poll conducted by The Washington Post and the Miller Center at the University of Virginia. In the past three decades, the number saying owning a home is “very much” how they define the dream has fallen to 61 percent, down from 78 percent in a 1986 Wall Street Journal poll. That year, owning a home was as emblematic of the American Dream as being free to live any way one chooses. The change in making homeownership a priority has opened up fissures that did not previously exist. In the new poll, there are apparent differences between men and women, young and old, and renters and homeowners, with the former in each example less concerned about ownership than the latter….But of all of these groups, renters — some of whom, like Brown, endured foreclosures — have become the most ambivalent. In 1986, three out of four said it was a big part of the American Dream. But the number plummeted in 2013 to 52 percent of renters, who are now 15 percentage points less apt than owners to put homeownership on a pedestal." [WaPost]

TOO SOON TO CROWN 2016 FRONT RUNNER(S)? - Our colleague Jason Linkins noted several tweets in recent days crowning both Rand Paul and Marco Rubio as "frontrunners" for the 2016 Republican nomination. Linkins: "Look, y'all. I ain't even trying to put the kibosh on discussing the relative strengths and weaknesses of potential 2016 candidates. I'm even OK with making comparisons. But we have to stop abusing this poor word, 'frontrunner,' before the English-language's version of Sarah MacLachlan starts making sad teevee commercials about it. There is no 'frontrunner' at this point. There isn't even a race.

Linkins then kindly "[takes] up the cause of HuffPost Pollster's own Mark Blumenthal, who wants this term to be used more realistically, so we stop hurting this poor word 'frontrunner' so much! Here are some rules, from Mark Blumenthal:

  1. 'First, to be a frontrunner you need to at least have a real lead, which means statistical significance in some form. But again that’s the easy part.'
  2. 'Second, we really need a different term to distinguish the true, dominant, likely-to-win frontrunner from a candidate that enjoys an early lead that’s quite possibly temporary.'"

Linkins advises readers to "consider using terms like 'ahead of the pack' or 'so hot right now'...and let the truly dominant candidates take 'frontrunner.'" [HuffPost]

Why distinguish? - HuffPollster has noticed that all too often, a modest lead in early polling, which is sometimes the result of an early and likely temporary advantage in name recognition, can lead to a media narrative about that frontrunner's inevitable victory.

What's wrong with 'front-runner'? - Via Twitter, political scientist Jonathan Bernstein disagrees: "I get your point about slim lead vs. dominant, but I like 'frontrunner.' There's a race, someone is leading, so?...[W]e have adjectives; let's use them. [Hillary Clinton] is a strong or dominant frontrunner right now...And if anyone wants to claim that there's a GOP frontrunner now, it's a weak one." [@jbplainblog here, here and here]

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MONDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-Cory Booker looks like a lock for reelection this year. [Monmouth]

-Kay Hagan's approval rating continues to drop. [Elon]

-Clinton leads in a Virginia 2016 poll. [Christopher Newport]

-The economy is the both American's top priority and the issue where Americans are currently least satisfied. [Gallup]

-Presidential races are not like NCAA brackets, Jonathan Bernstein says. [Bloomberg]

-73 percent of Russians said in February that their country shouldn't intervene in Ukraine [Russia Public Opinion Research Center
(link in Russian)

-Former American protesters are more likely than other Americans to support overseas protests. [YouGov]

-Tom Jensen (D) talks to Taegan Goddard about the battle for control of the Senate. [Political Wire]

-A new code of ethics for Ukrainian journalists prohibits fabricated opinion polls. [@skoczela]

-Ezra Klein argues against academic paywalls; Hans Noel responds. [Bloomberg, Mischiefs of Faction]

-Most Americans have a favorable view of Michelle Obama [Gallup]

-89 percent of adults and 75 percent of children have at least one electronic device in their bedrooms. [NBC Today]

-Brendan Nyhan finds pro-vaccine messages can actually backfire. [NBC]

-Greenberg Quinlan Rosner opens a New York office. [GQR]

-David Rothschild's prediction market forecast correctly predicted 21 of 24 Academy Awards. [Predict Wise]