A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Poll Tactics

The pollsters seem to have got my number. Since I first posted about being surveyed a couple of months ago, I've been called by a poll asking questions about the candidates for the California Assembly from my district, and then last night I got a call from the Rasmussen pollers.

It was a robopoll -- press one if you're a Republican, two if you're a Democrat, and so on. So since I had nothing better to do at the time, I sat there beeping out my answers to a variety of questions having to do with the election. It started with my opinion of George W. Bush, which I was happy to give -- even though I wished there was something more emphatic than a number five ("highly unfavorable") I could punch in. Something like 911.

And then, curiously, the robovoice asked my opinion of "Governor Brian Schweitzer." At first I thought I had misheard, and that the voice was having trouble pronouncing "Arnold Schwarzenegger," but I was pretty sure that there was a Brian Schweitzer who was governor somewhere (turns out, it's Montana -- I don't read Daily Kos for nothing), so I punched in "no opinion." So now I wonder if Rasmussen got its wires crossed somewhere and really thought they were calling Montana, or if the question was just thrown in to see if I was paying attention.

Anyway, I got to choose between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and then between Obama and McCain, and then the questions turned to hot button issues, like whether I was "pro-choice" or "pro-life." I bristled a little at this one, since I don't think that to be pro-choice is to be "anti-life." And sure enough, the poll asked if, knowing that McCain is "pro-life" and Obama is "pro-choice," I still wanted to vote for Obama. I did.

And then the pollvoice asked whether I thought "illegal" -- i.e., undocumented -- immigrants should have driver's licenses. I do. I don't want anyone
who hasn't passed a driving test out there on the roads where I'm driving or walking. McCain, the poll informed me, opposes such licenses, and Obama favors them. Do I still want to vote for Obama? Well, sure.

The whole business left me wondering if Rasmussen -- which I gather is not a particularly highly regarded poll -- was twisting the questions toward McCain. Early in the survey, I was asked which of several issues (e.g., the economy, immigration, moral values, etc.) was of most importance to me. I beeped that the war was uppermost. But there were no "McCain favors staying in Iraq, Obama wants to get out" questions.

So was I being push-polled? I don't know, but it sure felt like it.