Weekend open thread: Herman Cain robocall edition

The Herman Cain sexual harassment allegations have dominated political media coverage of the Republican presidential race this past week. I haven’t covered that story here, because I figure you can find the latest developments at any number of news sites. I also doubt it will significantly affect Cain’s standing among Iowa Republican caucus-goers, who either won’t believe the allegations or don’t care about sexual harassment.

Cain reached out to many Iowans directly this week through a robocall “survey.” My notes on the voter identification call, which came around dinnertime on a weeknight, are after the jump.  

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Anti-judge campaign hiding who pays for their robocalls

At about 6:20 pm today I received a robocall informing me about one of the “most important” elections this year, which is “buried at the bottom of your ballot.” The recorded female voice told me that voting no on the three Iowa Supreme Court judges would send a “clear message,” since the judges had ignored the “overwhelming” will of the people, blah blah blah. Toward the end the caller again urged me to vote no on retention, adding a populist closing line: “This time, you get to be the judge.”

I was taking notes as fast as I could, ready to write down who paid for the call and the phone number of the sponsor. However, the call ended without giving any of that information. Using *69, I learned that the source of my last incoming call was 515-418-9339, but when I pressed 1 to contact that number, I heard, “The number called cannot be reached.” Subsequent attempts to dial 515-418-9339 didn’t produce a ring, busy signal or any answering machine message.

In federal elections, groups making automated calls must “identify themselves at the beginning of the call and provide a call-back number.” Although most robocalls I’ve received do provide that information, Iowa statute does not require it, to my knowledge.

I wonder why those campaigning against the Iowa Supreme Court judges are reluctant to publicize who is bankrolling their campaign activities. Shouldn’t the sponsor be “loud and proud” about what they’re doing? Perhaps they don’t want to call attention to the vast amounts of out-of-state money trying to influence the retention vote. The Washington, DC-based National Organization for Marriage and the Mississippi-based American Family Association Action are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars urging Iowans to vote no on retention.

Please share any relevant thoughts, and post a comment or contact me off-line if you’ve received the same robocall.

Weekend open thread: New Branstad robocalls edition

Bleeding Heartland readers may remember that Terry Branstad’s gubernatorial campaign paid for a round of robocalls to Iowa Democrats in December. Iowa Independent reported yesterday that Branstad’s campaign is calling Democrats again.

In three different instances, the calls focused on same-sex marriage, eventually concluding with Branstad saying that he supports marriage only between a man and a woman. One person indicated they received their call from the Branstad campaign in late January, with the others within the past two weeks.

A series of robocalls received in eastern Iowa early in December touted Branstad’s “proven record” of income tax cuts and then indicated that he would “fight for traditional marriage.” Those calls came from a Washington, D.C., number that has also been linked to possible push-poll political calls on taxpayer-funded abortion and death panels in “Obamacare.”

If you receive this call, please post a comment or a diary here with details, or e-mail me confidentially about (desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com). Remember, it’s helpful not to hang up on political robocalls or surveys. Stay on the line and take notes, if possible, about the content of the call, who paid for the message, and so on.

I want to see a public poll of the Republican primary for governor. Since Branstad had nearly five times as much cash on hand as the combined total for Bob Vander Plaats and Rod Roberts as of the end of December, he should have no trouble winning. On the other hand, a lot of party activists are not sold on Branstad. Just last night Vander Plaats won the Dallas County GOP straw poll. If Branstad is trying to identify conservative Democratic supporters, he must be hoping to get them to cross over and vote in the Republican primary.

This thread is for anything on your mind this weekend. Hope everyone is enjoying the balmy temperatures of the last few days (highs in the 40s). The Des Moines Register reported today on some of the records we set this winter, according to Iowa climatologist Harry Hillaker:

GET AN INCH, TAKE 5 FEET: Des Moines logged 61.2 inches of snow December through February, besting the record of 54.6 inches set in the winter of 1885-1886. Statewide, Iowa saw an average of 45.1 inches of snow, edging the 1961-1962 record of 44.7 inches.

WHITE ZONE IS FOR UNLOADING SNOW ONLY: At least 5 inches of snow has been on the ground at the Des Moines airport for 87 days in a row through Friday, shattering the old record of 54 days set in the winter of 1961-1962.

FEB-BRR-UARY: The highest temperature recorded in Iowa was 35 degrees, the lowest high temperature since 39 degrees in 1978. Iowa usually sees an average of 10 days above 40 degrees in February.

WARM BEGINS AT 50: Through Friday, no place in Iowa recorded a temperature of 50 degrees for 78 consecutive days, the fourth-longest streak in history.

UPDATE: I saw that a House resolution expressing support for the National School Lunch Program passed on Thursday by 403 to 13. In light of the lopsided vote, I had to click on the roll call to see if Representative Steve King was one of the 13. I’m happy to report that even the occasionally mean-spirited, uncompassionate, clueless, dare I say cartoon-villain-like King recognizes that “our pupils deserve access to high-quality, safe, and nutritious meals in school.”

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UPDATED: Branstad is robocalling Democrats

An alert Bleeding Heartland reader got a recorded phone call around dinnertime today (Monday), featuring former Governor Terry Branstad.

Apparently there were a couple of questions about how Governor Chet Culver is doing and his handling of spending and the budget. Branstad’s recorded voice touted his own record on economic policy.

The call also asked if the listener would support a constitutional ammendment limiting marriage to between one man and one woman, and if the listener would vote for Branstad in the upcoming Republican primary.

According to my e-mail tipster, the call said it was paid for by the Branstad for Governor comittee, and gave a phone number as well as the address for Branstad’s campaign website.

This particular household has two registered Democrats and no registered Republicans, and the homeowner has had the same phone number for more than 15 years. Either the calling firm was using a bad list, or Branstad’s campaign is reaching out to find Democrats who aren’t happy with Culver.

Have any other Bleeding Heartland readers received this call? If so, please post a comment with details, or send me an e-mail at desmoinesdem AT yahoo.com.

Remember, it’s helpful not to hang up on political robocalls or surveys. Stay on the line and take notes, if possible, about the content of the call, who paid for the message, and so on.

UPDATE: Another reader tells me he got the call but hung up on it, and there are two registered Democrats in his household as well.

SECOND UPDATE: If Branstad’s campaign is trying to identify Democrats willing to cross over to vote for him in the Republican primary, it makes me wonder what their internal polling says about Branstad’s prospects against Bob Vander Plaats.

THIRD UPDATE: State Representative Tyler Olson of Cedar Rapids got the call too.

Tell us if you get robocalled about gay marriage in Iowa

I cross-posted my piece on amending the Iowa Constitution at Daily Kos last night, and Daily Kos user InMyLifeIowa wrote,

this weekend I received two robo calls wanting me to call my leaders to tell them not to support gay marriage. I hung up. Not even worth listening to it.

If you get a robocall on this issue, please do not hang up the phone. Grab something to write with, take detailed notes, and post a diary here afterwards. Be sure to listen until the very end of the call, when they are supposed to indicate who paid for the call and provide a phone number.

Click here for more advice on what to do if you get push-polled on this or any other issue. We need to know what opponents of marriage equality are doing in Iowa.

If you are a respondent for a legitimate survey about gay marriage in Iowa, please write down as much as you can remember about the questions and the firm conducting the survey. Last week I wrote up a Republican poll on the 2010 gubernatorial race in Iowa. If you write up a current poll in that level of detail, I will promote your diary to the front page of Bleeding Heartland.

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