Thursday, August 12, 2010

Push polling taking place

I just got a call from a poll taker. He asked if I was voting for Mike Obergfell or Win Moses. I told him I was voting for Elizabeth Sepponen. If a poll does not include all of the available options, it is not a legitimate poll. I have noticed that some poll takers are better than others about including all the candidate in a particular race.


Daddy said...

I wonder if they can be sued for publishing known to be false data?

Robert Enders said...

No. I took a class about this sort of thing. There are no legal repercussions for publishing unreliable statistical data. I could say 87% of all Republicans sell cocaine and nobody could sue. But I would lose credibility for making such a statement without showing how I came up with that stat.

A person can be sued for libel if they publish a statement that causes damage to an entity's reputation.

Daddy said...

>A person can be sued for libel if
>they publish a statement that causes
>damage to an entity's reputation.

A libertarian party comes to mind :)

Also you forgot "knowingly". There is still such a legal thing as "honest service" no matter how SCOTUS attacks it, but they could be self serving.

Robert Enders said...

Libel law applies differently to politicians, activists, and other people who have voluntarily put themselves into a position where they would be covered by the media. When common person sues for libel, that person only has to show that a damaging statement was made. When politician sues for libel, he has to prove that there was malicious intent.
Intent is VERY hard to prove. This is why Obama has not sued anyone who says he was born in Kenya. On the other hand, if a blogger claimed that an obscure private citizen was really an illegal alien, that citizen could win a large judgement.

Any actual lawyers can feel free to step in and add to or correct what I just said.

Karen Goldner said...

Having received the same poll, I would disagree with your characterization of it as a "push poll." See the definition here: - a push poll typically is one where you ask "If you knew that Candidate X were (insert libelous lie here), would you be more or less likely to vote for him/her?" The purpose is to spread rumor or innuendo about a candidate without having to directly take responsibility for such a statement. No such question was asked in this poll. Failure to include all the candidates may result in an incomplete or inaccurate poll, but it is not a push poll.

Robert Enders said...

From the source you cited:
"A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll."
The poll is clearly trying to push voters away from the dark horse candidate by eliminating her as an option. It would be like if in 2007 a poll was taken that asked "Who do you plan on voting for, Don Schmidt or Jon Bartels?"

Daddy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Phil Marx said...

I don't think you can properly asess this poll until the results are published. If the results are framed as "We asked potential voters who they would be voting for...", then the poll is worthless. On the other hand, if the results are framed as "We asked voters whether they would choose Moses or Obergfell..." then the poll is completely legitimate.

Most voters should be educated enough to realize that there are often third party or independent candidates who are not included in many polls. They should also be intelligent enough to realize that if there is not a category of "none of the above" or "other" included in the results, then the poll is pretty worthless.