Boswell is testing Fallon's messages

Last weekend a friend and fellow Edwards precinct captain left a message for me saying he'd been polled on the Boswell-Fallon race. On Wednesday evening, as I was cooking dinner, I got the same call. About an hour after that, the Obama precinct captain in my neighborhood called to let me know that she wants to volunteer for Fallon. She had just gotten the same survey call, which jogged her memory that she'd been meaning to call me about volunteering.

It was a long survey. I took notes for about half the call, but I had to put down my pencil from time to time, because my kids were jumping and trying to climb all over me, and I was afraid one of them would grab the pencil and get hurt. After the call I jotted down notes on other questions I could remember. If you've gotten this call, please leave a comment with any questions I have forgotten.

I'm putting as much as I can remember about the poll after the jump. I figured that Boswell's campaign was paying for the survey, based on the type of questions asked, and the fact that there were more questions asked about Boswell than about Fallon.

Just to make sure, I called Ed Fallon, and he confirmed that his campaign did not commission this survey and does not have any poll in the field right now.

If you don't care to read the whole extended entry, here's the summary. The poll asks a lot of questions about how Boswell is doing and what the respondent thinks about Boswell on various issues. All of the votes Fallon has criticized are mentioned in the survey, and respondents are asked whether they agree with Boswell's or Fallon's position. At various points during the survey, respondents are asked if they would vote for Fallon or Boswell if the primary election were held today.

The poll tests both positive and negative messages about Boswell, asking if the respondent agrees or if the statement would affect their likelihood of voting for Boswell. Interestingly, the survey did not test negative messages about Fallon. I kept waiting for questions about whether it bothered me that Fallon supported Nader in 2000, or was too liberal to win a general election, or whatever, but they were not in this survey. This was not a persuasion call against Fallon.

As far as I can tell, the Boswell campaign is trying to figure out which of Fallon's criticisms have the potential to hurt the incumbent, and which can be safely ignored.  

Follow me after the jump for more details.

The survey was conducted by Mountain West Research. I've paraphrased the questions in the order that I wrote them down or remember them.

How likely are you to vote in the June 3 Democratic primary? (very likely, somewhat likely, etc.)

What issues are most important to you? (open-ended, did not read list)

I'm going to name some people, and you tell me whether your opinions about them are very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, very unfavorable, or if you don't know/haven't heard of the person:

Bill Clinton

Nancy Pelosi

Leonard Boswell

Ed Fallon

Chet Culver

Tom Harkin

How well do you think Congress is doing its job?

How well do you think Leonard Boswell is doing his job?

If the June 3 primary were today, would you vote for Leonard Boswell, or Ed Fallon?

What comes to mind when you think of Leonard Boswell? (open-ended, I said that he doesn't stand up to Bush enough)

How do you mean? On what issues does he not stand up to Bush?

Would you say Boswell is a liberal, moderate, or conservative?

I'm going to read statements about Boswell, and you tell me whether you agree or disagree:

Boswell votes with me on the issues that are most important to me.

Boswell is middle-of-the-road, and we need a real progressive representing us in Congress.

Boswell works hard representing his district.

How is Boswell doing on the issues that are important to you?

Pollster reads statements about war funding, and asks which I agree with more: we need to keep funding so that the troops are not left without suppllies etc., or we need to stop funding the war immediately so that troops can come home (that's a rough paraphrase).

Which of the following statements do I agree with more: the Homeland Security Act and PATRIOT Act have been effective, or they should be repealed.

On a different topic, there is a proposal to build a new coal plant in Iowa now. What do you think about that?

Question about my opinion on NAFTA and other free trade agreements.

Pollster reads a few sentences of biographical information on Boswell: decorated war veteran, etc., mentions that he has voted multiple times for a timeline for withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Pollster reads a few sentences of biographical information on Fallon: he was a community organizer, he thinks Boswell is an honorable man but is not representing our interests, etc.

Asks again whether I would vote for Boswell or Fallon if the primary were held today.

Next there were several statements about issues. (I don't remember the precise wording, but I was able to jot down the issues mentioned, and they are the same ones Fallon frequently mentions.)

NAFTA and other trade agreements

warrantless wiretapping

taking money from corporate PACs

the bankruptcy bill

the 2005 energy bill, which gave oil and gas companies subsidies at a time when they were enjoying record profits

Asks again if I would vote for Boswell or Fallon if the primary election were held today.

Candidates sometimes have different positions on issues. I'm going to tell you about some of these differences, and you tell me whether you agree more with Boswell or Fallon.

On trade: states case against NAFTA, and case for how Iowa has benefited from free trade

On the war: states case for continued troop presence until Iraq is more stable, or should we withdraw troops immediately.

On energy policy: states case against energy bill, then mentions how the biofuels industry and other parts of Iowa's economy have benefited from the energy policy

Again, asks whether I would vote for Boswell or Fallon.

Then a number of positive statements about Boswell were read, and I was asked whether they would make it more likely for me to vote for him, less likely, or would make no difference.

(I couldn't take notes for this part of the call, but I do remember that a couple of the questions mentioned legislation that Tom Harkin and Boswell had worked on together.) 

At some point toward the end of the call, I was asked whether I had ever met Boswell or seen him speak in person.

I was asked about my age and race. I don't think they asked about my income.

At the very end, I was asked if I caucused on January 3, and if so, which candidate was my first choice going into the caucus. 

Finally, for “verification purposes,” the woman asked for my name. I checked with others who got this survey, and they were also asked for their names at the end of the poll.

I don't know why they were asking for names–does that mean they were checking to make sure names in the voter file were accurate? Or would they just be told to record the names of Fallon supporters? Someone who knows more about polling, please enlighten me.

That's all, folks. If you've gotten the same survey, please leave a comment, especially if you can add to or correct anything I've written.

  • Fallon vs Boswell

    The Boswell team has been worried about Fallon for months now; what’s the possibility of the majority of progressives there in the CD uniting behind Fallon– something you allude to in your post.

    • I think it's quite possible

      The Obama supporters I have talked with about the race do not seem to hold any grudge against Fallon for supporting Edwards. I think that’s partly because Obama won Iowa (and Polk County), and partly because Fallon did not make a negative case against Obama when he campaigned for Edwards.

      I have also heard about some progressives and environmentalists who did not vote for Fallon in the gubernatorial primary but are supporting him against Boswell.

      I will be writing a lot more about this race as the campaign develops.

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