I just got a phone call from someone claiming to be a pollster for “Public Insight–an independent research company.” He started by asking if I voted in Westchester County, and then proceeded to ask three questions:
“It’s a fact that during her tenure on the Westchester County Legislature, Andrea Stewart Cousins always voted to raise taxes. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for her, or no difference?”
“It’s a fact that during her tenure on the Westchester County Legislature, while voting to raise your taxes, Andrea Stewart Cousins always voted to raise her salary. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for her, or no difference?”
“It’s a fact that during Andrea Stewart-Cousins’ tenure on the Westchester County Legislature, Westchester’s taxes became the highest in the state. Does that make you more or less likely to vote for her, or no difference?”
By the third time I heard him say “It’s a fact…” I knew this was no ordinary poll. I asked him to give me a source for his claim that Westchester had the highest taxes of any county, and when he demurred, I asked to speak to his supervisor.
A Chris Davidson got on the line and and said that Public Insight was a “political phone call and survey company” and denied that it was a push poll. He claimed that they weren’t working for either candidate in the race or a party, and also claimed he didn’t know who had written the script for the call. He also couldn’t give me the basis for any of the “facts” mentioned by his “pollster” other than to say they were mentioned in the news media. So much for his company’s integrity.
I told him that I objected to someone claiming to be a pollster pushing misinformation on unsuspecting voters, and that given that Stewart-Cousins’ opponent Nick Spano had already mailed a flyer out accusing her of doing nothing to prevent convicted sex offenders from being located in the county–which has earned him a rebuke from the county’s Fair Campaign Practices Committee–I assumed this push poll was connected to Spano, and that it would have the opposite effect from what he wanted.
Our local state senate race was a nail-biter two years ago, and this rematch is looking uglier by the day.
UPDATE: Talking with my wife later the same evening, I just discovered that she got the exact same call this evening! Only in her case, after the first question, my wife said, “Excuse me, are you working for Nick Spano?” The pollster, a woman, said no, we’re an independent polling company. My wife said, “Well, that’s certainly a loaded question.” The woman said thank you and hung up on her.
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