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.