Why would a candidate's poll be complimentary to her opponents?
April 22, 2012 6:27 PM Subscribe
Why would a poll paid for by a congressional primary campaign include so much complimentary information about the opposing candidates?
posted by escabeche to society & culture (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I just took a phone call and agreed to participate in a political poll. This turned out to be l-o-o-o-o-ng; at least twenty minutes. The poll concerned the Democratic primary for my congressional district (which, given the nature of my congressional district, is more or less equivalent to the general election.) I was presented with a long, very laudatory capsule summary of each candidate's record and asked how likely I was to vote for that candidate. Then there was a long list of questions of the form "Here is a positive thing about candidate X. Would this make you much more likely to vote for X, more likely, a little more likely, no more likely?" These covered all three candidates, roughly equally. And then a long list of questions of the form "Here is a negative thing about candidate X. As a reason not to vote for them, is this very convincing, somewhat convincing, not too convincing, not convincing at all?" Again,
roughly equal coverage of all three candidates. I did notice one thing: one of the negative items, about a candidate whose initials are KHR, was "She voted against a proposal that would give our school district the flexibility to hand over control of some schools to an unaccountable voucher organization" which did not sound like it was meant to be all that negative. In general, though, the negatives were pretty negative; this person took lots of campaign cash from someone unsavory, this other one has no legislative accomplishments, this third one didn't vote to restrict the movement of sex offenders enough, bla bla bla.
At the end of the poll I asked who was polling me. The guy asking the questions didn't want to tell me, but after some prodding his supervisor got on the line and told me the poll was paid for by the KHR campaign.
So what was going on here? Why is a candidate spending money on a long call that puts forward positive information about her opponents and negative information about herself? Is the point just to put those assertions in people's minds, or is she getting information about what campaign messages are likely to be successful? But then why does she need to test positive campaign messages about her opponents?