Monday, September 28, 2009

Push Poll

I got an automated push-poll from Huckabee this weekend that really irked me. Now, I tend to get calls for polls all the time from a variety of sources and I usually participate. I was quite fun when I was targeted by polls from every single candidate in the last election --I was getting two or three a day for a while right before the election.

At any rate, this one seemed like a particularly egregious push poll. I know that writing poll questions is an art -- the slightest change of wording in a question can radically change the response, and skilled question writers are in demand to get the questions "just right" so they get the answers they want. It's usually fun to figure out what the goal of a particular poll is based on the questions, and some are so biased to one particular answer that they are hard to respond to at all. Equating two unrelated things, for example (Do you think Obama should force through a public option regardless of public opinion, or should he institute death panels?) is one common approach.

At any rate, this started off with Huckabee's cheerful announcement that we were facing the worst crisis ever in health care and we needed to act and asked if I was willing to answer a few questions on "issues facing the nation". Sure. Why not?

First question: Do you consider yourself "pro-life"?. In the politically charged parlance of the anti-abortionists agenda, no, I do not. (I am always angered by the semantics used by them, too - the opposite of pro-life is not anti-life or pro-abortion, but that's a screed for another time). In any case, I replied 'no' to the voice-recognition poll.

There was a pause, a click, and then "thank you. We have a few demographic questions for you. Are you male? Thank you." Click.

The poll was apparently designed to either ignore or minimize any "non-pro-life" respondents, as far as I can tell. It definitely felt as if it was just cut off when I didn't answer in the positive to their filtering question. Would there have been further questions about health care and immigration and the rest of the issues Huckabee is always peddling if I had said that I was a pro-life voter? Will my response, that I don't agree with his basic premise, even be counted? Push polls are generally biased and heavy-handed, but this was surprising.

Most of the time these things don't bother me -- I've been called with questions that are pretty questionable from politicians of all sides, so this is not a right-wing or left-wing problem--it was just the abrupt nature of "oh, you didn't answer our question properly, we don't want YOUR opinion" that I came away with that left me feeling angry and testy.

I'm just too crabby today I guess. Ishoudl be outside in the cool, cool weather and enjoying the beautiful fall day.

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