“Push-polling” is where a type of campaign tactic where, under the guise of a poll, misleading or inflammatory questions are asked about an opposing candidate. The point of the push-poll is to persuade the person being polled as to a candidate or issue, rather than actually soliciting opinions.
A similar tactic is being used by the Wisconsin Democratic Party to try to get people who signed petitions to recall Democratic state Senator Robert Wirch to say that they were deceived or didn’t know what they were signing. The tactic is not a push-poll, but a call seeking to verify petition signatures in which suggestive statements are made which would call into question the signature.
As reflected in the audio below, the push-call starts with the following introduction suggesting that there has been a widespread problem with petition signatures:
“The reason we’re calling is there were reports from people in the community that out of state paid circulators were misleading people about what they were being asked to sign and we have reports of them tricking voters into thinking they were signing a petition, say at a nearby shopping mall, or providing them with misleading information, so all we were calling was to find out is if you did intend to sign the petition to remove Democratic Senator Wirch from office.”
Before the audio started, the caller did identify herself as calling from the Democratic Party. According to the person who provided me with the audio, the number which showed up on the caller i.d. was the number used by the group fighting the recall on behalf of Wirch.
Here is the audio (note: the voices are slightly distorted because the woman receiving the call is afraid that her identity would be revealed, and the audio cuts off the last few seconds of the call where the first names of both people are used):
The point of the introduction is to suggest that the petition signer may have been deceived, and that the phone call merely is a form of verification. This is not an attempt to solicit facts, but to suggest facts to the person who signed the petition.
At no part of the call does the caller indicate she not only is calling for the Democratic Party, she is working for the Wirch campaign as part of efforts to throw out the recall petition.
There certainly is nothing wrong with verifying signatures. That’s what the process is about.
But it must be very unsettling to people, in light of the death threats and intimidation tactics employed by opponents of Gov. Scott Walker, to receive a phone call at home when phone numbers were not part of the petition.
In normal times perhaps a phone call at home would not be viewed as intimidation, but considering what has happened in Wisconsin, people who receive such calls must be worried.
Additionally, the phone call is deceptive, in that it suggests at the start that there has been a problem reported “by people in the community” with deceptive petition practices. In fact, other than a few isolated incidents, there has not been any evidence made public of widespread problems with the over 18,000 signatures (only 13,537). And the call was not made as a response to complaints, but as part of a pre-planned attack on the petitions.
This is an attempt to create the appearance of problems with the Recall Wirch petitions, not to document actual pre-existing problems.
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