Thursday, July 13, 2006

Beware of "Push Polls"

From: Advisory Committee, Friends of Jan Schneider

Beware of "Push Polls":
Schneider to Run a "Clean Campaign"

As recently reported in local newspapers, some other campaign or group is conducting a "push poll" heaping plaudits on an opponent and hurling attacks against Jan Schneider. Whoever is responsible for the poll seems to have joined the "Katherine Harris lite" school of politics.

The current poll resuscitates an old accusation by Harris in a previous Congressional race that Schneider is a "dangerous foreign agent." Far from engaging in cloak-and-dagger operations, Schneider registered as a foreign agent when she was an attorney for the Government of Canada, as is required by United States law. The poll also advances a number of other untrue assertions, half-truths and slurs.

For those not contacted by the pollsters, here are excerpts from newspaper accounts:

Stephen Majors, "Polls provide more questions than answers," Herald, June 26, 2006:

"Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Jan Schneider said a few of her supporters have been contacted by a polling firm asking 'push' questions like, 'Would you support Jan Schneider if you knew she was an agent of a foreign government?' As an international lawyer in the past, Schneider has had the opportunity to sometimes represent foreign governments. But Schneider's campaign said she resents being portrayed as if she were some sort of 'secret government agent.' Schneider said she doesn't yet know who is behind the questions.

"Angela Barranco, a spokeswoman for the other Democratic candidate, Christine Jennings, said, 'Officially we don't comment on political strategy,' when asked whether the Jennings campaign was behind the polls."

Jeremy Wallace, "Schneider upset with new poll," Sarasota Herald-Tribune, June 27, 2006 (blog):

Democrat Jan Schneider isn't happy about a National Research Corporation poll being administered in the 13th Congressional District that is loaded with negative questions about her.

Pollsters ask Democratic voters what they think about a candidate who has tax problems, who has threatened to change parties and who was once an agent for a foreign government - a similar charge that U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key, made about Schneider in 2002 during their battle against one another.

"Whoever is doing it, it sounds like the Katherine Harris-lite campaign," Schneider said this afternoon.

"The campaign team for Democrat Christine Jennings wouldn't comment on the poll. Jennings' campaign manager Angela Barranco said by rule, they do not discuss campaign strategy."

There seems little doubt that whoever is conducting the unacknowledged poll is testing the waters for future negative campaign tactics. The Sarasota Civic League has, however, required all candidates participating in its evaluation process -- in the case of FL13, all but Republican Vern Buchanan -- to execute a pledge against negative campaign advertising. Advertisements are to be considered "negative" and unacceptable "if they violate the core values of compassion, honesty, responsibility, fairness and respect."

Friends of Jan Schneider acknowledges that "attack ads" and other forms of political "mudslinging" are popular with certain candidates because they often work. They are also inherently flawed, insulting to the voters and likely to backfire. "Especially at a time when the country is at war, plagued with an $8.4 trillion dollar national debt and beset with a vanishing middle class," Schneider is determined "to focus on the issues of vital importance to the people of this district and our country."

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