Monday, June 21, 2010

Push me, poll you

A week ago last weekend, several GOP activists in SD43 reported receiving phone calls from a "pollster" asking about statewide and SD43 races. Some of them speculated that the call was actually a "push poll," which is not really a poll at all, rather it is "political telemarketing masquerading as a poll," according to a recent CBS News report. Push polls do not collect any data, their objective is to widely spread negative statements and innuendo about the opposition candidate, in a format that sounds like an opinion poll.

SD43 candidates Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) and Republican challenger Norann Dillon were apparently both unaware of the poll, which according to sources was conducted by a Colorado-based firm, until it was reported in the blogosphere last Monday on The Activist Next Door. Sen. Bonoff told me via telephone that she had no prior knowledge of it, and that she will focus on the issues to win reelection. Dillon was more interested in analyzing the call itself, which sounds like it may have been rather long for a push poll.

Bonoff has been accused of push-polling before, in her races against former Plymouth mayor Judy Johnson for the SD43 seat, and in her endorsement contest for U.S. House of Representatives against the eventual Democrat nominee, Ashwin Madia. Yet push-polling can be expensive for local campaigns, in which case they would be third-party expenditures that by state law are not visible to the candidate, let alone controlled by his or her campaign committee. Third parties with pockets deep enough to mount a push poll might be the state party, partisan state legislative or Congressional committees, national PACs, and unions.

Instead of a push poll, I think it more likely that someone out there is simply doing the campaign legwork of poking and prodding the registered, likely voters of SD43 to craft their campaign messages. All of the candidates and parties will be doing the same this summer, until the public at large (as opposed to you, dear readers) begin paying attention to Campaign 2010.

If you receive a telephone call from a poll taker, I would be interested in hearing about it.

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