Fake polls as political propaganda

Fake polls as political propaganda

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Today I had yet another telephone solicitation for a political candidate, with the telephone poll masquerading as a paid advertisement.

The “fake poll” call goes something like this:

  1. Hello, I am with ABC Research and we are conducting a poll regarding the campaigns of X and Y running for office W.
  2. I have just 2 questions.
  3. First question, if you know that candidate A was promoting <insert list of half a dozen tax increases> and candidate B is opposed, which candidate would you favor?
  4. Second question. Candidate A has said she will generally support the interests of the big cities in the state (I live in a rural county and my district is rural) and Candidate B will vote for the interests of your district, which would you favor?

Obviously, when a pollster provides you selected and potentially biased information about the candidates, this is not a poll – this is a telephone solicitation and paid promotional ad campaign for Candidate B.

Why do they run these fake polls? Probably because stating directly that I am calling to ask you to support Candidate B results in more hung up phone calls! By saying it is a “poll”, they persuade more people to hear the pitch.

This is the 3rd such “fake poll” call I have received this election season. I received one other phone call that was an actual campaign call and it began “Hi, my name is Elizabeth X in town A and I am a volunteer supporting Candidate Z”. And guess what – I quickly said thanks but not interested – and hung up on the call!

Another comment on polls – polls are themselves part of propaganda campaigns. When the polls are favorable to a candidate, and the poll is paid for by the candidate’s campaign, they will do everything possible to get those polling numbers in the news. The intent is a “get on the bandwagon” form of propaganda – all your neighbors are voting for candidate X, shouldn’t you be too?

Pay attention to the reports of polls as elections near – often times, polling numbers vanish from the news. This is typically a clue that the polling numbers are not lining up the way someone wants the to line up.

With one week remaining in a national campaign season (Congress, President, local and state races and propositions), keep an eye out for vanishing polls.

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