Push Polling En Vogue in South Carolina

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?

15 responses to “Push Polling En Vogue in South Carolina

  1. Push Polls are typical of politics where rumors are started to sway votes in favor of one person over another.

  2. When I first the article, I sensed the author is extremely against push polling. Also, I understand his point of view, but the author is trying to support his argument with no facts or studies at all. Nonetheless, from my literal reading of this article, push polling is in attempted to convince a voter away from a certain candidate. I understand why the author states his position because voters will vote on “rumors” rather than the candidate’s actual objectives. Hence, people will vote against the candidate when actually the voter’s political and economical views are the same as the opposing candidate.

  3. I never heard about push polling before this article I find it very sad that some people can stoop so low as to go an slander someone’s name just to win an election. But then again I think a majority of politics is corrupt , so something like push polling doesn’t really surprise me.

  4. To put it in plain and simplistic terms, push polling is ghetto. It’s a way of negating a certain candidate and manipulating individuals who probably don’t follow politics religiously. Push polling seems cheap, low and expected. Today’s society will always do something like this.

  5. Kevin Toussaint

    Before reading this article, I was suspicious of political campaigns and how most if not all depend on negative campaigning to obtain votes. Now, I am downright disgusted with the whole elction process. How can we have political leaders who outright lie to their constituents just to gain votes? That’s outrageous and unethical in my opinion and any camp that decides to use push polling as a legitimate campaign strategy does not deserve to represent the people in whichever political office for which they are running.

  6. Politics is a nasty business and this article helped shed some light on what some of that “nasty business” is. Push polling, however, is something I would consider campaigns do because they can. There are A LOT of stupid people out there. Might as well use them to your campaign’s advantage right? If one is naive enough to switch to Candidate A because some random person on the phone told a few outrageous, but untrue, statements about Candidate B, then we have a bigger problem at hand. Voters need to realize that not everything they hear from a poll or the news is factual. Only when voters start to recognize that the election system isn’t full of the honesty and morality they expect, will politicians have to change their ways, if they ever do.

  7. This is the first time I have heard of push polling. It sounds like a lazy and childish method to steal votes. If politicians would just put in the work and effort without these little games, then maybe they’d have better chances at winning elections.

  8. I have never heard of the term push polling, but after reading the article and the ost, it does not surprise me. Anytime there is an election, the ads on TV, radio, and the papers seem to be so hateful and less about politics and more about personal attacks. People in charge of these ads and polls are always twisting facts and making what “seems” to be true, true, even without telling the whole story. Unfortunately, many people will believe anything that they hear and that is why these types of polls and ads will continue to be a popular “source” of information for their political decisions.

  9. I think that using push polling to collect information is not the best method. It is definitely misleading and doesn’t give us accurate results.People who use it want to get specific outcome. I think that it is ridiculous and unbelievable that all those games are used to win; it is hard to tell what’s real anymore and who’s honest.

  10. This was my first time ever hearing about push polling and I am not in favor of it. I don’t agree with having a phone call where someone tells you rumors or unnecessary information about a candidate. For example with the John McCain question they asked in the article, what would it matter if he did raise an african american child? If anything, I would think that is a good thing,and shows good character for people to vote for him.

  11. As with just about every aspect of any election, whether just a local election or presidential, deception and flat out lies seem to be standard practice. Am I surprised there is such a thing as push polling? Not at all. It doesn’t seem to make a difference which political party, they all will do whatever it takes to win the election. I don’t think push polling is much different than the negative campaign commercials we inundated with at election time. The goal is to put a shadow over a candidate making you question whether you should vote for them. It’s not easy for voters today to just go cast their ballot…they have to educate themselves and try to sort fact from fiction.

  12. Graciela Gurnea

    Like other commenters, I had never heard of push polls until this article. As horrible as it sounds, I think push polls are genius. If I were to receive one of these calls, I never would think of foul play at all. I most likely would fall for their scheme and in turn begin to question my opinions and the “facts” I had just learned. It may not be fair but it is a great, effective way to sway a voter’s eventual decision.

  13. This is something that i’m now just hearing. I have never hard of push polls. I think that they shouldn’t be legal nor should they be allowed to happen. Putting false information into the voters mind to sway them one way? Its an unfair way to win an election, and should be counted against said candidate. If I now hear something like this I will now do more research to make sure what has been said is true, I want a true President that is for the people, not lie to us and make up false statements.

  14. This is the first time I have ever heard of a push pull. To me push polls are wrong. They fill people’s mind with false information. Push polls are equivalent to a middle school student starting a nasty rumor about some one at school. It also takes advantage of people who aren’t politically wise.

  15. Alejandro Medina

    i had never heard of push pulling until i was introduced to it this semester. Push pull is a very dirty trick to win an elections. Much of the reason that they do this is so that the elector will change his mind. Much of the information that is give might be false. I guess is another technique candiates used to win a voters vote.

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