Friday, October 5, 2007

Charges of push polling in Durham

Sorry, I'm about a week late on this story. Durham Mayor Bill Bell has accused challenger Thomas Stith of conducting a push poll, linking Bell to a conflict of interest. See here and here. The poll was conducted by TelOpinion Research, which also conducts polling for the Civitas Institute. Stith was formerly the Vice President of the Civitas Institute.

I think this is a good time to remind people of the definition of a push poll. A push poll, is not a poll at all, but a tactic to spread dirt about a candidate under the guise of a poll. Instead of trying to poll a sample of voters, a push poll should try to go to as many people as possible.

If everybody in Durham got "polled" then I would agree that this was a push poll. But I doubt that's the case. It is more likely a poll that includes some leading questions designed to figure out what negative messages decrease Bell's support the most. In other words, what dirt sticks. This is a common campaign tactic.

Now, whether or not Stith's "dirt" on Bell is truthful is another matter.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no doubt here.

I got the TelOpinion Research call, and it went on for several questions, all of the form "Would it lower your opinion of Bell to know that he tortures puppies?" or the alternate "would it raise your opinion of Stithe to know that he is a close advisor to God?"

Maybe they were jsut deciding what would really stick, because 5 days later we got an automated/ robo "poll" asking many of the same questions.

I know not everyone got those calls, but nor has everyone received the colorful "Bell as inept and/or criminal" mailings, and that doesn't mean they are not smear attacks on Bell.

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