But it’s not a push poll

So, I got a call someone who claimed to be taking a political poll. It started out in a typical way: how often have you voted in the past, how likely are you to vote in the election this fall, etc. Then the  reader started asking about my opinion on statements that all seemed to be meant to see if I would be persuaded by a particular attack on Elizabeth Warren–yup, it was a push poll. The call was by Opinionology and obviously they know they’re going to be accused of push polling, because they have this statement:

Opinionology has never, currently does not, nor will it ever engage in push polling.

Opinionology does perform scientific, research based opinion polls designed to test the impact of certain messages on a sample population. These polls by definition are intended to obtain information, and not to sway
public opinion. To that end, these polls focus on a small, randomly selected sample, consist of many questions testing the impact of certain statements, and request demographic information.

Despite their legitimacy of purpose, message-testing polls can occasionally generate vigorous complaint. Legitimate polls sometimes measure opinions on sensitive subjects of public controversy in political campaigns, and may appear in press stories about dubious campaign practices. “Negative or disturbing information about a candidate does not automatically make a survey a push poll,” said AAPOR President Nancy Mathiowetz. “Message testing, when campaigns test the effectiveness of possible messages about opponents and even themselves, is very different; and it is a legitimate form of surveying.”

So, if you make a call that asks about a negative claim then that’s  a push poll and is bad. If instead you make a call and make several such negative claims to see which works best for a push poll, that’s fine. It seems to me the second is worse.

The number was 801-823-2033 if you want to ignore the idiots.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Virginia 14th Voter
    Aug 19, 2012 @ 17:05:51

    Opinionology is doing the same thing in the Virginia congressional races – reading a list of false statements to see which might make voters more or less likely to vote for particular candidates. Many of the tested statements are blatantly false; none of the false statements about Republicans are negative.

    Another option if you participate in their survey is to say that none of the statements will affect your vote.

    They seem especially to be trying to identify lies that will pull wavering Democrats towards Republican candidates.


  2. Al Tucker
    Oct 02, 2012 @ 17:56:00

    I just got assaulted by one of their polls in Pennsylvania. One of the questions about Barrack Obama’s handling of the murder of the Ambassador in Libya had a premise that was so bizarrely slanted and false that I hung up after I protested its severe bias. I was called back by the same woman who tried to continue this farce they called a poll. In this case, it further strengthened my support for the opposition candidate. So they may have pushed me – but not in the intended direction.


  3. Anonymous
    Oct 17, 2012 @ 22:20:18

    Just got the same thing regarding Waxman in the California polls.


  4. Dave M
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 03:15:51

    The surveys they do are projects provided by the customer. The customer may be Democrats, Republicans or neutral. When they gave a statement you probably had the choice to say you disagree or that the statement made you likely or not likely to choose a certain candidate. Your adults, you don’t have to believe it. But the people at this survey research place are just using surveys provided by their customers. Just be polite and say you don’t want to do the survey or be taken off their company Do Not Call list.


  5. fredtopeka
    Oct 19, 2012 @ 09:37:21

    Really, you’re saying we shouldn’t mind that this group is trying to spread lies?


  6. Sarah
    Oct 24, 2012 @ 21:36:44

    I got a similar call in Virginia. When I said I would vote for Obama, they asked what I would be most concerned about with an Obama presidency including several things Obama has specifically said he will not do (i.e. raise taxes on the middle class, cut Medicare). What can we do?


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