Dem survey - real or fundraiser in disguise?
June 21, 2016 1:04 PM   Subscribe

So.. I got the "Official 2016 Democratic Election Survey" in the mail today. I can't decide if it's mainly a fake survey to increase fundraising, or if my answers will actually be tabulated and used. Any thoughts from the hivemind?

It asks about the republicans and what I find the most disturbing, asks me to prioritize several issues (e.g. "closing the gender pay gap" vs "enacting sensible laws to combat gun violence"). It also asks for money for the DNC repeatedly. Googling mostly turns up bernie bros that wrote snarky answers instead of actually filling it out.
posted by zug to Law & Government (9 answers total)
Almost certainly both? Those questions sound a lot like they want to use them to figure out how to advertise (what issues to focus on in advertising, and how to focus those), but yeah, every contact is an attempt to fundraise & and an attempt to determine who their most engaged people are.
posted by brainmouse at 1:06 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I got one too (donated money to one single campaign several years ago, and can't seem to get off their mailing lists!), and I've got to agree with brainmouse: it's both, a poll and a fundraiser. The fundraising part is clear: they want your money; as for the questions, they want to target their prospective audience more closely.
posted by easily confused at 1:09 PM on June 21, 2016

It is only a fundraiser, designed to make you more likely to give because you think they're paying attention. Responses from surveys like this have virtually no statistical validity, and in general the parties don't care about the opinions of people who give (small amounts of) money, because they very unlikely not to turn out, or to turn out and vote for the other guy. Parties care a lot about the opinions of people who give LOTS of money, but you convey those opinions over cocktails with Senator Jones, not on a mail-in form.
posted by MattD at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

My wife also got one of these, and I used to write fundraising materials for a (non-partisan) political group back in a previous life. My read on these is that they're about 90% fundraising (with the poll designed to remind you of all the reasons that you support Democrats and oppose Republicans before making the monetary ask) and 10% polling (with the chief purpose of the polling being to identify which issues you find most motivating so that they can fundraise on those issues to you in the future).

I definitely don't think it's true that political parties don't care about the opinions of people who make small donations. Those small donations make up a significant portion of their fundraising. (For example, according to the most recent FEC filings, donations of $200 or less made up $97 million of Clinton's $204 million raised from individuals to date). Of course caring about how to convince people to part with their cash is different from caring what they think, and the people looking at these surveys probably aren't the ones making policy, but there is still some tendency for this sort of thing to gradually make its way into party platforms and policy proposals, if only because the discrepancy between the fundraising appeals and the actually policies becomes politically untenable after a certain point.
posted by firechicago at 1:46 PM on June 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

These are also using the poll as a form of advertising, both to encourage you to donate and to reinforce your general support for the sender. They could have written a letter saying, "Help us close the gender pay gap and enacting sensible laws to combat gun violence," but you're more likely to read and be engaged with the survey, which reminds you that these are issues that they support and that you likely already agree with.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 1:55 PM on June 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's not a poll, per se, but it probably will be used to target future appeals (for fundraising, volunteering, GOTV) to you.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:57 PM on June 21, 2016

Former DNC employee here (not in fundraising). They will tabulate the answers and use it to target more fundraising asks in the future, but really they just want your cash money.
posted by fancypants at 5:04 PM on June 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Ha, I just received one of these too, and the language on the 'survey' was so hyperbolic I was actually wondering if it was somehow a scam. I mean, any Russian fraudster or right-winger trying to discredit the Dems could easily write 'DNC' all over a form and get a few thousand credit card numbers out of this, y'know? Glad to know it's legit, also glad to know I can throw it out guilt-free.
posted by yeahlikethat at 9:12 PM on June 21, 2016

It's Fund-Raising Under the Guise of a survey, or FRUGging to us crotchety survey people. As posters have said above, there might be some use of the answers to fine-tune future appeals, but the survey appearance is just a legitimizing cloak aimed at greasing your donation decision wheels. When it's a commercial sales pitch, we call it SUGging (Selling Under the Guise).
posted by NumberSix at 10:13 PM on June 27, 2016

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