Sunday, February 03, 2008

Clinton Campaign Brings Push-Polling to California

If you knew that Hillary Clinton was pushing people to vote for her under the guise of conducting legitimate telephone polling, would you be more or less likely to vote for her?

Ed Coghlan was just starting to prepare his dinner in the northern San Fernando Valley the other night when the phone rang. The caller was very friendly. He identified himself as a pollster who wanted to ask registered independents like Coghlan a few questions about the presidential race and all the candidates for Super Tuesday's California primary.

Ed, who's a former news director for a local TV station, was curious. He said, "Sure, go ahead."

But a few minutes into the conversation Ed says he noticed a strange pattern developing to the questions. First of all, the "pollster" was only asking about four candidates, three Democrats -- Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards, who was still in the race at the time -- and one Republican -- John McCain.

Also, every question about Clinton was curiously positive, Coghlan recalls. The caller said things like, if you knew that Sen. Clinton believed the country had a serious home mortgage problem and had made proposals to....freeze mortgage rates and save families from foreclosure, would you be more likely or less likely to vote for her?

Ed said, of course, more likely.

Every question about the other candidates was negative. If Ed knew, for instance, that as a state senator Obama had voted "present" 43 times instead of taking a yes or no stand "for what he believed," would Ed be more or less likely to vote for him?

"That's when I caught on," said Coghlan. He realized then that he was being push-polled. That malicious political virus that is designed not to elicit answers but to spread positive information about one candidate and negative information about all others under the guise of an honest poll had arrived in Southern California within days of the important election.

As Joe Gandelman points out, Clinton seems to be building a reputation for such underhanded tactics:
First, came the controversies about the innuendos about Senator Barack Obama, the apologies and the occasional resignation (after the info was thrust into the news cycle). Next came The Bill Clinton offensive and display of the race card. And now comes this L.A. Times’ blog report about push polling — again coming from supporters of Senator Hillary Clinton[.]
And the Clinton campaign? Did they immediately deny it and/or denounce it and say they not only had no part in it but they completely repudiate such tactics?

Phil Singer, the spokesman for the Clinton campaign. was contacted by e-mail last night. He answered that he was there. He was asked if the Clinton campaign was behind the push-poll, knew who was behind it or had any other information on it. That was at 5:27 p.m. Pacific time Saturday. As of this item’s posting time, exactly eight hours later, no reply had been received.

Silence is sometimes eloquent — particularly if it seems to be part of a distinct pattern.

We have been through eight years of lies, prevarications, corruption, and anti-democratic tactics. Hillary Clinton knows that she is seen by many voters as the establishment, business-as-usual candidate. If, knowing that, she still runs her campaign this way, what's she going to do if she becomes president?

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