Monday, September 29, 2008


Viewpoint: ‘Push poll’ calls - We deserve better
Carol Turnbull, Viewpoint Writer
Woodbury Bulletin - 09/24/2008
I recently received a call which pretended to be a legitimate political survey. I usually find a reason to hang up on such callers — then complain that nobody ever cares about my opinion — so I decided to participate.

It quickly became apparent that it was what is called a “push poll,” viciously targeting one of our local state legislators who is running for re-election.

I am not going to name names, but will refer to the candidates as “Incumbent” and “Challenger.”

A “push poll” is best defined by this found on the Internet: “Pollsters” call people up and ask, “Would you vote for So-and-So if you knew he/she had done such-and-such?”

Notice, the pollsters did not actually say So-and-So did such-and-such, so, they weren't exactly lying, but the question plants the idea in people’s minds.

That is exactly the type of call I received. The caller first asked whom I supported and then phrased her questions as "Would you be more or less likely to support So-and-So if you knew such-and-such?"

The questions regarding Challenger were favorable.

The questions regarding Incumbent went from bad to worse, ending (when I pulled the plug) with an attempt to make me believe Incumbent supported allowing convicted sex offenders to work in our schools and daycares.

Incredibly, the pollster apologized before asking that question, as she herself thought it was so bad.

She also readily offered the name of the organization she works for (Western Wats, located in Utah) and of the company that hired them (Tarrance Group), plus their phone numbers.

An Internet search shows that Tarrance Group is a Republican organization, and that
these two companies have gotten into legal difficulty in other states.

I contacted Challenger, who stated she knew nothing of the survey, but that she didn't know how to stop it. I suggested that if she wished to distance herself from it, she consider making a public statement, such as writing a letter to the Bulletin as I was going to do.

If Bulletin readers get such a call in the future (targeting someone of either party), I ask, are you really going to believe someone in Utah who was paid to call you and is reading from a script?

My “pollster” didn't even know which state she had called and asked me.

Or, will you take the time to pick up the phone and talk to each of the candidates involved to report your call and get their story?

Apparently, Minnesota has been declared a "battleground state" in this upcoming election. And by now most of us would just like to hide until November.

But if we allow this type of slime to influence which elected officials represent us, well, the next time it will only get worse because it worked.

This is vicious, it's vile, and we deserve better.

And if any local person was involved in this, they should be hiding their heads for much much longer.

Turnbull is a resident of Woodbury.

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