This is a letter I wrote yesterday to the New Director of POTUS 08, the XM radio station that covers the presidential campaign exclusively…
Senior Director of News Programming
XM Satellite Radio
David LaMotte here. We’ve corresponded once before about some POTUS08 programming, and I sincerely appreciated your friendly response.
I’m a POTUS08 junky and a resident of NC and I just had a fascinating experience about an hour ago – I was push polled, either by the Clinton Campaign or someone in their corner.
A guy named Ed called from Akron, Ohio, and when I asked what polling outfit he works for he said Garin-Hart-Yang, based in DC, which I found online here: http://www.hartresearch.com/about/political.html. At first I was delighted to be polled, as I’ve been interested in the race and following the rest of the nation’s polls closely throughout the campaign.
The questions started out normal enough, but got progressively more ridiculous. Early in the conversation Ed asked my preference among the Democratic candidates and I told him I was an Obama supporter.
Then the questions turned to long Hillary-praising and Barack bashing policy statements with the response options being “Do you consider that a very strong, strong or weak or very weak reason to support her candidacy for president?” which is kind of an unanswerable question, and clearly not the point. At the end of the conversation they asked “Now based on everything we’ve discussed, who would you vote for?”
The questions were often based on statements that I wouldn’t agree with in the first place. It’s classic push polling as I’ve read about it, though never experienced it before. The questions are of the “Are you still beating your wife?” variety. No way to answer with any sense of veracity and integrity.
Toward the end of the conversation it occurred to me to record it on my old-school tape-based answering machine, so the following is a verbatim transcript of some of the content:
“Hillary Clinton knows that people are being squeezed by the rising costs of everyday items, especially the cost of a gallon of gas. People have been paying through the roof and at the pump, and she thinks it is time the oil companies payed their fair share. She wants to end their special tax breaks and use that money to invest in alternative energy that will create millions of new jobs. As president she will launch a full-scale investigation of the oil companies’ price rigging. Upon taking office as president she will lower gas prices by taxing the excess profits of the oil companies and use that money to cut gas tax.
Do you consider that a very strong, strong or weak or very weak reason to support her candidacy for president?”
It goes on a bit later:
“I’m going to read you a few criticisms opponents might make about Barack Obama. For each one please tell me if they give you very major doubts, fairly major doubts, some doubts or no real doubts about supporting Barack Obama for president. At a time when we need leaders who are clear, strong and decisive, Obama has been inconsistent, saying he would remove all troops, but then indicating that he might not, and pledging to renegotiate NAFTA, but then sending signals that he would not actually do so as president. He supported George W. Bush’s 2005 energy bill which payed six billion dollars in subsidies to the oil and gas industry, nine billion dollars in subsidies to the coal industry and twelve billion dollars in subsidies to the nuclear power industry. It was called ‘a piñata of perks’ and ‘the best energy bill corporations could buy. Would that leave you with major doubts, some doubts or no real doubts?”
And how do I answer that question, given the fact that I dispute some of the premises laid out?
Didn’t they already get embarrassed about push polling in the midwest early in this campaign and didn’t she repudiate the practice? I find this kind of thing pretty shocking, and I think people should know it’s going on. It’s demeaning and disheartening, especially given the fact that my civic pride was piqued by being called in the first place, only to realize I was being manipulated. I have the actual tape of the end of the call, and I’d be happy to talk with you about it on the phone if you want to put this out there.
As far as disclosure goes, I have an Obama sign in my front yard and a sticker on my car, but I’m not a party operative of any kind.
By the way, I just found out from Paul Loeb, who wrote a piece on this for Huffington Post, that Geoff Garin is the head of Senator Clinton’s campaign team and is one of the partners in this firm, so there’s no question that it was her campaign making the call.
I’m going to type up the whole transcript and post it here within 24 hours.
Bruce Mulkey says
Hillary represents the politics of the old cultural paradigm—divisive, deceptive, win-at-all-costs, top-down. Barack represents the emerging cultural paradigm—visionary, inclusive, authentic and participatory. From my commentary that will appear in the Asheville Citizen-Times on 4/29:
“It may still be business as usual for many Washington insiders. But here in Asheville and across the land, a powerful movement of energized citizen-activists has arisen. Barack Obama has rekindled the hopeful vision for our nation that lies deep within each of us. He has called on us to make that vision a reality, to become personally accountable, to help our country correct the course it is on.”
Yes we can!
You’d think that a campaign as cash-strapped as the Clinton operation would have better places to spend their money.
But what I wonder is: Does a push poll like this one give you a very strong, strong, weak or very weak reason to vote against Clinton?
It seems to me that under both Penn and Garin, the tactic has been to twist every truth Obama utters into a vehicle for vilification. We finally have a candidate willing to discuss the hard issues with honesty and clear-eyed rationality, and the Clintons insist on going Rove-ian.
After she finally concedes, one can only wonder if Hillary will join her dear friend Joe Lieberman in endorsing McCain.
Jasmine Cope says
I just had the MOST disturbing political survey call. I live in Apex, NC the call starts off asking if you will do a political survey and then it asks several benign questions about affiliation and voting record…..then it asked how favorably you view each candidate, THEN when it sounds like a true survey, it asked about 7 question stating “facts” about Obama like he only passed two laws while in the senate and names two insignificant things and would you be more or less likely to vote for him, then he was only in the senate 18 months then running for president would you be less or more likely to vote, then he says he wants to do something about Afghanistan but didn’t even attend the committee he chaired, does this make you more or less likely to vote…..as I’m telling the hired man on the other end for a legitimate survey company that this better get less bias or I’m saying good night….. he says that the Clinton questions are coming up too, they are just paid to ask the questions as an independent company. The Clinton questions were things like she traveled to 80 countries and has foreign policy experience are you more or less likely to vote for her, needless to say all the Clinton questions were positive, another was about her offering health care to everyone while Obama claims that he will but will not, are you more or less likely to vote for her, she will do this and that for North Carolina education are you more or less likely to vote for her…….at the end I asked the man who paid for the “survey” he said that he could not say,……I told him that was ok it was pretty obvious.
It just happened to me too. Apex North Carolina, just after 9 pm 4/27
OMG why can’t they be up front, if they want to make soliciting calls make them don’t be manipulative and frame them as a survey! Considering this was so much miss information stated as fact! Wow it must be illegal; is there a not slander law in politics? I must say if I was not well informed and knew that the questions were false or misstated it would have been a shocking moment of wow I did not know that about Obama….and it would have been VERY effective cause it was stated as fact from a neutral party.
This would be shocking if I didn’t already know far too much about Hillary Clinton to consider voting for her.
I’m glad you’ve put this out there. It will be a huge travesty if Obama loses the nomination when he has run a scrupulously clean campaign while she has relied on gross distortions and dirty tricks.
Mathias Risom Kristensen says
Hey, just read about your pollster encounter on abc news (which got digged), and it said you wouldn’t mind hearing “from us” on your blog :-).
Being Danish my opinion might be less than important per sé, but following this election I originally supported Edwards, then after he dropped out I was left with two options.
I must admit I favoured Hillary for some time, but felt that I didn’t knew enough about the candidates. After getting a real base of knowledge about the two, especially Obama, I changed horses in the mid-stream (pun intended).
Since then it has only become clearer that Obama is the superior candidate, not only a nudge policy wise, but as this push-polling and other dirty tricks/half-truths from the Clinton-campaign keeps coming alight; also morally. Really makes you think that the allegations of Clinton’s campaign twisting the NAFTA question in effort to sway the vote in the Ohio primary have been quite accurate.
It’s stuff like this that tabs what’s left of sympathy for the Clinton campaign. I’m not saying she wouldn’t be a good president, she definitely would, but there is no question that Barrack Obama would become the best President of the United States, the rest of the world could hope to get (and a lot of us do 😀 ).
this is good to know…thanks
Joe Willy Neckbone says
A vote for Hillary Clinton is a vote for an unstable America, unfortunately; a vote for Obama is even worse. Though I make absolutely no threat what so ever, America is not ready for a Black President. Especially a Black President with terrorist ties.
No sane mind wants to be at war, but our current President has forced us into this situation that can no longer be ignored. If we just walk away from the war on terror, every soldier that gave his life protecting us; died for nothing. If we do not stop the terrorists with this current initiative, we may as well order prayer rugs tonight. Because we will all be bowing to the east at sunset.
Our only hope is to vote republican and pray that George Bush is brought up on charges of treason. Thus providing America with negotiating power.
John Brophy says
Just what we all expected. But now that you have an audio tape, why not call a News Station(preferably pro-Obama) and get this out there( orCNN or MSNBC)
Nice job, David.
When Garin took over from the disgraced (and disgraceful) Mark Penn, the buzz was that we would see a much kinder, gentler campaign from Hillary. So much for that! He’s just as much an old-school hack as the rest of them.
Kudos to Obama for not resorting to such tactics. He has the future of the Party at heart, not just his own.
seventh sister says
I agree with Garry. The problem is that the media usually calls both legimate polls and push polls by the name ‘poll’ and it is difficult to know what kind of questions were asked in any given instance. That is why I always take a reference to poll figures with a large grain, maybe a spoonful, of salt. I feel that polls are often used to try and influence us in ways if which we have to be quite vigilent. It is easy to think that if one party or another is ‘ahead’ in the polls that it must be the winning party and everyone wants to be on the winning side or that you might as well vote for the one that is winning because your preferred candidate doesn’t have a chance anyway. Poll results can also influence people who may decide not to go and vote because the outcome seems to be already decided. This kind of manipulation can be a dangerous thing.
My only comment is that I would have been a lot less compassionate to the caller. More likely, I would have said that although I might understand the need for a job, there are certain ones that integrity would not allow and this would be one of those. Actually, it is quite shameful that anyone would participate in such a ‘poll’. It is one thing for Clinton to attempt this type of politics. It is what defines her but you can’t succeed if nobody plays the game for you. So, my comment would have been, “Shame on you.”
I can only hope that the MSM plays this. Unfortunately, it seems that they are drug addicted to the story of Rev. Wright and his every move; a topic that has no relevance to the campaign or who could best govern this country.
Kudos to you for taping this conversation and making it available. I only wish it would go viral.
Wow, that phone call was fairly awful and the caller had a robotic style of reading from his sheet of lies that basically made me want to tune out. These tactics and the audio of the sleazy call need to be brought to MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann’s attention. I’d expect this of Republican opponents, but this sort of thing really shouldn’t be going on between Democrats, especially when one of the two KNOWS she can’t possibly win. Spin does not and SHOULD not trump math.
You are an idiot! Hillary is the best prepared person to lead this nation. Obama is a whiner and always will be. The fact that you people on this site just turn a blind eyes to Obama’s problems and highlight what you think are Hillary’s just gives Hillary supporters like myself the fuel we need to press on. Hillary will not give up and she will fight this thing all the way out to the convention. I feel sorry for all of you. You’re willing to support an inexperienced, extremely flawed candidate like this and I’m a Afro-American! Jake Tapper is bias anyway, so i don’t listen to anything he reports at all. Hence this man here and his hard left blog. And I’m a liberal supporting Clinton. Bill has been demonized by the Obama campaign and all of it has been played up in the pro-Obama media circles. Get ready to welcome in a strong candidate that can win…. President Hillary Clinton!!!!!
She’ll do anything to get elected. If she can’t she’d rather ruin Obama and see McCain win. She and her husband are done
Great piece. This is the kind of tactic you won’t hear about in the MSM. It’s also just another indicator of how pathetic and desperate the Clinton campaign has become.
James Rindfusz says
I am very glad that you were able to record this phone call. I think it helps to demonstrate the extremes at which Hillary is now willing to go to try and win this nomination. She is making moves that are not only offensive to democratic voters but also hurting the party. I think you handled the situation very well, and I hope to join you on May 6th when we along with many other voters will place Indiana and North Carolina in the win column for Obama.
I trust Hillary no farther than I trust GW. That said, I’m still aware of the republican/Rovesque drive to get republicans to vote for Hillary in Michigan. I just wonder if Karl is truly ‘retired’ or just operating normally, but less visibly. Guys like Rove don’t ‘retire’, I think, unless in the same fashion Jimmy Hoffa ‘retired’. Supply & Demand.
That’s are methods, pathological lier Hillary uses to get an image, that she has more popular votes !
In addition, go to youtube and type in “search”: what Hillary doesn’t want you to see.
I promise, you will have fan.
Unfortunately for those blindly following the pied-piper, the ‘allegations’ within these polling questions are matters of Obama’s voting record. Nothing more, nothing less. If their thin-skin can’t take the heat of Obama’s own indisputable voting record during his 2+ Years in the Senate, get out of the kitchen!
The only thing accomplished by exposing the Obama campaign’s thin-skin is that the Repug slime machine is salivating to easily chew him up and spit him out should Obama become the nominee. Dems require a leader with more than a 2002 speech while the nation needs a fighter who doesn’t take Scaife-funded b/s from anyone!
God bless you for recording this. This is absolutely huge.
I am so proud to be supporting Obama with you!
YES WE CAN!
Thank you David!
Seventh Sister, the reliability of polls depends greatly on the methodology of the pollster. “poll” is a misnomer for these ‘push/pull’ abominations. They are really just negative campaigning by telephone.
Just read your piece on the push pull call…this is so frustrating. I am in N.C. also and am wondering …who have you sent this to? I hope it gets wide attention in the msm. She cannot continue to get away with this stuff. It needs to be hammered on every station (radio and TV).
She’ll do anything- ANYTHING- to win. If she can’t win this year, she’ll make sure the Republicans do so that she’s got a shot again in 2012.
Lucy Frost says
Thank you for making this public. I’m part of a group that does a lot of volunteer phone banking for Obama. We’re normal, everyday people who put in hours on the phone to help the campaign. We identify Obama supporters, answer questions from those who are undecided, recruit more volunteers. We NEVER bash Clinton. EVER.
I hope that more people get the word on this and realize what kind of campaign is being run against Sen Obama. Even John McCain has asked the crack-pot group in NC to not run a trashy ad against him.
THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH A GREAT SUPPORTER. Thanks for going the extra mile and let everyone know what is really up! I am going to share your story with our republicans for Obama, and it would be an honor if you showed up there with more of your thoughts, ALL WELCOME even if you aren’t a former REPUBLICAN!!
Sandi Obama Pledged Delegate District 4 IOWA (new opportunity to stand with Obama tomorrow in Iowa Saturday April 26th)
William Hogg says
Thanks for recording this and making it public so that we can see what Hillary or her surrogates are doing. Obviously, Obama is not going to join Clinton in the gutter, but we can do our part by raising media awareness of her unethical behavior.
David, thanks so much for posting this……cannot believe that the NUMEROUS questionable practices before and during this campaign do not disqualify HRC as a candidate for President. You’d think they would!
Happy Birthday too – and the 40’s are pretty good.
seventh sister says
This is why I don’t believe statements made regarding poll numbers. Polls are way to easily made into tools of manipulation as you have so clearly illustrated.
stephen taylor says
Hey David, you’ve gone viral! Mentioned by name on both Huffington Post and Daily Kos.
Sue Polinick/Pennsylvania says
Here is Pa we were bombarded with negitive calls from the Clinton camp, just like you got.
I kept telling them I am an Obama supporter. That didnt stop them. I am of the older generation above 50..and female……Clinton believes all females should vote for her.
They were relentless….My neighbors even complained.
They are targeting older folk and the “uneducated”…gosh, I hate that term….
anyone with a lick of common sense, educated or not, old or young, should be able to see the negitive badgering that the Clinton Camp is relentless in doing.
and when that wasnt seeming to work…..Osama bin Laden commerical…..fearmongering always works among the elderly.
You need to circulate your article everywhere in Indiana and NC, that will publish it, news papers, TV w/audio radio w/audio …People vote for her to SHUT HER UP!!!!!
Thank You for recording that negitive push poll done in every state by the Clinton Campaign.
stephen taylor says
It’s kinda sad, isn’t it? Early on in this endless process when my preference for pres was Edwards, I was of the opinion that I could with a clear conscience vote for any of the democrats come November. I don’t really feel that way now.
The fact that Mrs. Clinton has not conceded the contest to Obama, even though she cannot best him in delegates or popular vote makes me more than uneasy about the thought of her as president. The tactics she is using to persuade only increase my unease.
I can only hope the the next round of primaries will finally convince her that it is in her best interest to concede the race and let the Obama campaign get ready for November. I’ll be voting for the democratic candidate in the general election and I’m confident it will be Obama.
Mona Brittingham says
After the third call the weekend before the Tennessee primary I had resort to telling the local Clinton campaign office that I was on the ‘no call’ list.
The phone volunteers would pretend to take my number off their list, but call again within a few hours. I started having them read the number I gave them (my phone number) back to me, and of course they could not. After it became apparent that they had no intention of ceasing the calls, I then began to take the callers’ names and finally asked who was in charge of the next shift of volunteer callers. That stopped it.