Gov. Herbert’s slimey, sneaky push-poll

My column today (click!)  is on the art of push-polling, which are not polls at all, they’re ads, or efforts to recruit helpers, or solicit funds or something.

Interestingly, last night my wife showed me a “Summer Survey 2011″ sent around by Utah’s very own Gov. Gary Herbert. You can see the poll here (click!) and you must admit, at the start, it looks like a nice simple “what would you like to tell me” sort of survey.

This is fine and dandy, until you get to the bottom where Herbert asks if you are willing to help  him get reelected, work for him at convention, send him money or just generally give him your support. He also asks for your email address so he can contact you. If this survey is something official from the Governor’s office, this is totally wrong. If it’s a campaign effort, it’s deceptive.

Either way, this is pretty slimey. If Gov. Herbert wants my opinion, he should ask my opinion and that’s that. If he only wants to ask me to work on his campaign, then he should be honest about it.

Real surveys don’t ask for money, ask you to join, ask you for help or ask you to do anything but give your opinion.

Viewed as a political solicitation, the whole survey becomes worthless. He asks if my chief concern is “public lands,” but so what? His view of how to use public lands may be different from mine, but if I check that box, he can truthfully say that “this person wants me to manage public lands by keeping the federal government out of Utah.”

And so on.

In my column I quote WSU Political Science Professor Leah Murray saying that most of this sort of push polling by local politicos is the result of incompetence, not malice. I suppose we can give Herbert a little benefit of the doubt here, but not a lot. This survey is very obviously not on the up-and-up and, frankly, I think we expect more from a governor.

Gov. Herbert is  either being deceptive or incompetent here. Something to consider when standing in the voting booth.

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12 Responses to Gov. Herbert’s slimey, sneaky push-poll

  1. Steve Davis says:

    I got a similar survey from the Utah Democratic Party, asking me for a donation at the end of the survey. I am a committed Democrat, but I threw the survey in the recycle bin when I saw that. No sale.

    • Bob Becker says:

      Me too. They’re pretty insulting, regardless of which party sends them round.

      What’s scary is, they seem to work. Hard to think they don’t since they’ve [both parties] been sending phony fund-raiser-disguised-as-poll letters out for a long long time now.

  2. Julie Martin says:

    Pushing an agenda? Dr. Leah Murray, “…and they push by accident. Only the Karl Roves of the world do it for evil.”

    I assume when you quote a professor at WSU that has such bias you would point that out also. But no; you presented her statement as is with no clarification of her agenda.

    • ctrentelman says:

      well, apparently her “agenda” wasn’t hidden well enough to keep you from spotting it.

      Rove was well-known for his take-no-prisoners style of political maneuvering. That’s why he was so good at what he did.

      Are you saying professors at WSU are supposed to not have opinions? You will never teach a student to think unless you give them your own opinions to think about. I suspect Dr. Murray would be happy to have you disagree with her.

      • D. Michael Martindale says:

        I think Julie was complaining that the article didn’t point out the professor’s bias, and treated her opinion as objective fact.

  3. laytonian says:

    Charlie, how was that “Summer Survey 2011″ distributed?

    I see it online with a google.com URL … but what was it linked FROM?

  4. Stephen M. Cook says:

    My most politically conservative Polisci professor at USU was the one who lectured from the most left-of-center standpoint.
    I did not know his overall affiliation until well after the lecture series was ended.

  5. Dan S. says:

    Back in the 80s, shortly after I first joined the Sierra Club, they sent me a push-poll in the mail, aimed at recruiting new members. I sent it back with an angry letter making many of the same points as above. In response, they sent me a hand-written apology, saying they’d gotten lots of complaints and they wouldn’t be using that “survey” any more. Enclosed was a copy of the utterly worthless “results”. Haven’t gotten anything like that from them since, but who knows what they send to mailing lists of prospective members.

  6. Owain says:

    You know, Charles, you’re really not very good at this whole political commentary stuff. Maybe you should stick with what you know. You not bad when it comes to cycling fluff, you know.
    In this instance, you are definately in the running for a nomination for the Captain Louis Renault Memorial Trophy for being “shocked, shocked to discover that push polling is going on here.” (Casablanca reference, there, in case you missed it)
    If you are disgusted by Herbert’s poll, be equally disgusted by the Democrats, because both sides do it, because as noted above, it works (at least with some people). If it doesn’t work with you, great. Sit back and enjoy a sense of smug self satisfaction.
    You’re very good when it comes to smug self satisfaction you know.

    • ctrentelman says:

      i’m reasonably certain i said both sides do it, sir owain — that was the point of the blog post.

      Did you have a point, besides feeding your own smug self-satisfaction?

  7. Tom says:

    “Gov. Herbert is either being deceptive or incompetent here”

    Wellllll, Mr “T”,

    I think the “or” in the above sentence perhaps should be an “and”.
    It has been my observation of the Governor that he is generally both deceptive and incompetent on most subjects. He actually fits right in with the state legislature in that regard.

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