During last year’s election cycle, we all were inundated by public opinion polls that supposedly gauged how people were going to vote for President, Senate, House, and Governor. In each of these cases, scientific polls were conducted to get those poll results. When you see polling companies such as Gallup, Rasmussen, Pew and the like, you know that the poll is credible. You may not agree with their findings, but what you do get at the very least is a scientific method used to gather information. The practice of push polling, however, is not credible and certainly not scientific.
A push poll is not a real poll. In fact, those who conduct a push poll are not concerned about the data gleaned from their surveys. A push poll is conducted in an automated fashion over the phone. The goal of a push poll is to put a rumor or false inference in the mind of the person who answered the phone. It designed to sway voters from one candidate to another. To the untrained voter, they may believe the push poll is a scientific poll. However, scientific polls usually do not ask questions such as, “Would you be more or less likely to vote for John McCain…if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?”
(Photo: AP Photo)
This question was asked of primary voters in South Carolina in 2000 regarding then-Presidential candidate John McCain and his non-Caucasian daughter. The daughter was not black, nor was she illegitimate. She just happened to be adopted from Bangladesh. Using such racially coded language could stir up emotions in voters from a state such as South Carolina.
Supporters of then-Governor George W. Bush were have said to be the source of the McCain question. Those who engage in push polling typically do not leave their calling card as to the identification of the push poll’s source. They are negative in nature and are designed to destroy political campaigns. The voter who answers the phone is left questioning the validity of what they just heard. Push polls are not valid in any shape or form.
With a special election taking place this March, the voters in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District are now receiving push poll phone calls regarding a few of the candidates. This Real Clear Politics story elaborates a little more on push polling in the 1st Congressional District and on the practice of push polling itself. For a list of the candidates running for the seat once held by newly appointed US Senator Tim Scott (R), look no further than this site.
After reading the RCP story, what are your thoughts in regards to push polls?