Sunday, March 29, 2009

Push Polling for the Akron Mayor Recall: Field Report and Call for Comments

Commenter Eric announced that he got what sounded like a push poll call supporting the mayor recall campaign to which Warner Mendenhall is so generously donating his time. I got the call today which, along with some research on the internets, raises questions.

The call is entirely robo. Caller ID says it is "Voter Alerts," originating from area code 402 (eastern Nebraska, including Omaha). The call starts with a doth-protest intro claiming it is a poll like those seen on CNN and ABC News. Never heard anything like it. You are prompted to press one if you want to take the poll.

Next comes a standard poll question: "If the recall vote were held tomorrow, would you vote to recall the mayor?" One for "no," two for "yes." I pressed one.

Next you get what appears to be a rotating series of push-poll slams. Eric says he got one blaming the Mayor for the city's economic problems and claiming the recall election will cost only a dollar per citizen. A commenter on Ohio dot com says the call blamed gang activity on the Mayor.

Mine was approximately as follows: "If you heard that tax money will be spent installing fencing on the Y bridge while high-priority projects go untouched, would that change your vote?" Um, no. And it doesn't change my opinion of the recall effort so much as deepen my pre-existing contempt.

Once again I pick 1 over 2. The call concludes by cheerily assuring me that I've participated in an "independent poll." Whatever else it is, it's not a poll. The "poll" offers one follow up question pushing in one direction with many variables and dubious accuracy. No pollster worth a mention on CNN would construct a question that shoddy.

I wish I had kept a note on the robo-call service Team Recall used for Warner's robo-calls announcing the organizing meetings. It was something generically like "Voter Alerts." The name itself defies effective Googling, though I did find a complaint on a Do Not Call message board suggesting that some dirty trickster nuisance calls aimed against the Obama campaign bore the same name (scroll to the bottom of the page).

At some point we will get expense reports from the recall campaign and can check if they have directly paid for the push poll. In the meantime, it's clear that someone acting in the the name of cleaning up the city is engaging in some grungy tactics.

UPDATES: First off, I originally intended to make a call for reports from readers, which a couple regular readers have been kind enough to supply already. It looks like the economy and the number of "active gang members" were the two in circulation prior to the Y Bridge fencing announcement that hit the papers Friday.

One commenter says that he's received more than one of these. If we needed proof that Team Recall is push polling, we need no more than multiple "poll" calls to the same number.

Also David from Buckeye State asks aloud if anyone has audio. Good question. If they try to hit me again I'll work it. The best bet if you see Voter Alerts on the Caller ID is to let the machine pick up, then answer. If you get such a thing in a digital file, I'd like to hear it too.


Dave P. said...

We've gotten several calls from them and have answered twice out of curiosity. On the first call, the second question had something to do with gangs -- "would you still be against the recall if you knew that there are 1,200 active gang members in Akron?" or some such.

The second time around, it asked about debt, comparing how much the recall would cost per person with the amount of per capita debt the city has.

Pretty despicable stuff.

ProfsrLee said...

We got the one about all the active gang members, too.

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling Larry Parker of the Akron Watch group is behind this. Despite being a Fairlawn resident, Larry has said that he is pumping several hundred thousand of his own dollars into the recall effort.

redhorse said...

Push polling, or wherein your favorite internets horse recalls the joy of dropping the land line and going wireless. Praise be to smart phones.

Question: is WM pushing polling know so his group can obtain the required number of signatures, or because he's priming for a nasty slog toward a potential recall date?

The answer to that question would illuminate a lot of motivations and actions.

Anonymous said...

A new low for Warner Mendenhall. He and his people are exactly what they accuse Plusquellic of being.

Anonymous said...

my call's second question asked if I knew the amount of city debt per resident of Akron was $6000, and the recall election would only cost $1 per resident, would I then vote to recall the mayor.