I just participated in what was clearly a telephone push poll favoring Hillary Clinton and bashing John Edwards and Barack Obama. It began objectively enough, but toward the end, there was a section where they read statements that "could be said" about a given candidate and asked how they affected my view of the candidate, and all the statements about Edwards and Obama were negative, while all the statements about Clinton were positive! (Some rough paraphrases: "John Edwards chose not to run for another Senate term because he didn't think he could win, abandoning the fight in Congress against the administration"..."Barack Obama failed to vote in favor of abortion rights nine times as a state senator"..."Hillary Clinton was born into a middle class home where she learned the value of hard work and frugality")
The company running the poll was "PSA Interviewing" and when I asked the caller if he knew who the client was, he said, "Well, we've been calling this the 'Hillary Clinton survey' so maybe it's her."
Could it really be the Clinton campaign? Is there a way to find out? Has anyone else gotten this poll? Here's a similar experience reported on My Left Wing.
Whether this poll is being financed by the Clinton campaign or not -- indeed, whether a given push poll is a GOP attack on a Democrat or vice versa, or is an example of the terrible tragedy of "Dem on Dem violence" -- such tactics are reprehensible and anti-democratic. Fortunately, they're also the kind of abuses that the blogosphere seems tailor-made to smack down. Can we shine some light on this?
Appended at 4pm pst, 5/5/2007:
I just wanted to pull in the finding of one of the commenters below that PSA Interviewing is part of Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates (PSB), and that Penn is Mark Penn, Hillary Clinton's chief pollster.
I also want to echo the question posed by other commenters: Was this really a push poll, or only research into possible future lines of attack? I didn't consider this possiblity when I wrote the original entry. Thinking it over, I still lean toward the former, though I'm less sure now. Here are all the details I can remember that might bear on this question:
- They asked for my preferences among the big three candidates at both the start and the end of the poll.
- As near as I can recall, there was no positive content on Edwards and Obama (unless you count statements like "Edwards has said he will raise new taxes" as positive, which I did!) and nothing negative about Clinton.
- After getting my preference among the big three (Edwards) they then asked me if it was possible I might change my mind and I said yes. I wonder if the rest of the poll would have gone differently if I had said no?
If anyone can think of any crucial details that might help to clarify what this poll was really about, ask away and I'll try to dredge up the answers from my memory.