Open thread on push-polls and message testing

I got a fake “survey” phone call Tuesday morning testing various negative messages about Hillary Clinton and John Edwards. I diaried the call at MyDD:…

Another Edwards supporter got the same call and put up a diary at the Edwards campaign blog blaming Barack Obama's campaign. I doubt Obama's campaign is behind the calls, though. My first thought was that an independent group supporting Obama might have ordered this survey, but the more I think about it, the more I think that it's a Republican hit job. 

For more info on the “Central Research” firm that placed the call, read the comments under my diary at MyDD or click on this story by Ben Smith at Politico:


One of the commenters at MyDD suggested that the survey may be targeting Hillary (the front-runner) and whomever the respondent names as a first choice. So perhaps if I had answered that I was planning to caucus for Obama, I would have then heard negative message-testing against Hillary and Obama, instead of against Hillary and Edwards.

Has anyone else gotten calls like these lately? Please share your experience in the comments. 

If you get one of these calls, try to make a note of the phone number where it originated. We don't have caller ID, so I was unable to do that. I did press the woman about who paid for the call, but she wouldn't say anything other than that Central Research is an independent firm.

UPDATE: Ben Smith has published follow-up posts at Politico:



Also, Mark Blumenthal of says this is definitely push-polling, not message-testing. He finds it inconceivable that the Edwards campaign would be involved in this kind of poll:


Chase Martyn was on the Taylor Marsh radio show today discussing the issue. I didn't hear the show, but from what I read at MyDD, Chase thinks that the Edwards campaign paid for these calls to test the loyalty of their supporters.

Sorry, Chase, that makes no sense. Campaigns may test negative messages about themselves (usually in a real poll that also tests positive messages about themselves and negative messages about opponents). But this was not a real poll. Furthermore, the Edwards campaign has spent very little on polling of any kind. Are you telling me that they would decide to spend money reminding supporters that Elizabeth Edwards has cancer?

Not likely. The purpose of a poll like this is to decrease support for the target candidate. And the only people who would pay for such a call are people who do not want John Edwards to win the Iowa caucuses.

Click the link above to read Mark Blumenthal's expert commentary on the issue.  

As I said above, I do not believe the Obama campaign is behind the call. The perpetrators may have deliberately left Obama out of the call to point the finger at him, however.

  • My fiancee got one too

    Sunday night, as we were on our way home from a weekend away, my fiancee got a similar call testing negative messages on Clinton.

    btw – the link to Politico doesn’t work.

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