A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

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.