Monday, September 29, 2008


Mystery Poll In the 20th (Updated)
August 17, 2006 at 5:14 pm by Elizabeth Benjamin
Residents in the 20th Congressional District have reported receiving a call early this week that some have described as a “push-poll,” which included extremely negative questions about Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

According to several people who got the call, it started out with fairly innocuous questions about whether the country is headed in the right direction and if President Bush is doing a good job. Next came the question about who the responder planned to vote for in the 20th CD race: Gillibrand or U.S. Rep. John Sweeney, R-Clifton Park.

Bob Hudak, a Corinth resident who is a “blank” (not enrolled in any political party), said he picked Gillibrand, and was then asked whether his choice would change if he knew, for example, that she doesn’t live in the district, that her law firm represented an Enron crook, or she had used the death of American soldiers in Iraq for political gain.

(I assume that refers to a July DCCC Web ad that featured a brief shot of flag-draped coffins in the back of a plane returning from Iraq. The GOP had a heyday with that one).

Hudak said he found that question so offensive that he hung up on the pollster, only to have a different person call back the next night asking him to finish answering the questions (he did).

“Perhaps Mr. Sweeney and his people should take the time to examine his record in Congress and run his campaign based on his record,” Hudak wrote in a letter to the editor sent to the Post-Star. “Or, perhaps they have examined his record and feel that it does not instill enough support from the voters to warrant his re-election.”

When pushed by respondents to identify who had ordered up the poll, the callers provided a phone number that led to Western Wats, a Utah-based research group that does data collection.

A Western Wats worker told me the poll was commissioned by The Tarrance Group, a national Republican polling firm that does a lot of work for the NRCC. She would not tell me on whose behalf The Tarrance Group is polling.

So far in this election cycle, the NRCC has paid The Tarrance Group $391,087 for various polls and travel reimbursements. According to a DCCC source, the NRCC recently paid The Tarrance Group $16,275 to do a poll for Sweeney in the 20th.

I called both the NRCC and The Tarrance Group today, and have so far not received return phone calls.

Sweeney’s campaign insists it had nothing to do with the poll. Gillibrand campaign spokeswoman Allison Price didn’t believe it, and she seized on the fact that there seemed to be no positive information offered about the congressman in the poll.

“Sweeney’s record doesn’t warrant reelction so he is forced to use dirty push polls to taint the opinion of voters,” Price said. “Sweeney doesn’t have to poll on his own record - it is a rubber stamp for President Bush - and we all know where Bush’s approval ratings stand.

“It is unfortunate that our opponent has to hide behind personal attacks and misleading polling. The residents of the district would find it novel if he emerged from the mud and talked about issues like Iraq and the rising price of gas.”

For the record, a Zogby International poll released today found President Bush’s approval rating has dipped two points in the last three weeks - despite the foiling of the airline terror plot and the Middle East cease-fire agreement.

Posted in 20th CD Race, John Sweeney, Kirsten Gillibrand |


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