(Update to yesterday’s post “Push-Polling in the 29th?”. Hat tip to blogger optimusprime, who sourced the link to NRCC’s Schedule E below. This information started the procedure that led to this post.)
The information below is from: SCHEDULE E; INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES; FILING FEC-239944; Committee: NATIONAL REPUBLICAN CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE. This is the firm that the NRCC has hired to conduct a poll for Mr. Kuhl in NY-29:
PUBLIC OPINION STRATEGIES
214 NORTH FAYETTE STREET
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia 22314
Purpose of Expenditure: Survey
This Committee SUPPORTS The Following Candidate: RANDY KUHL
Office Sought: House of Representatives
State is New York in District 29
Date Expended = 09/28/2006
Person Completing Form: CHRISTOPHER J. WARD
Date Signed = 09/28/2006
Amount Expended = $21000.00
Calendar YTD Per Election for Office Sought = $21000.00
Public Opinion Strategies, a republican polling firm, recently completed a poll in PA-07 for the Sestak (D) vs. Weldon (R) race. Their results were Weldon leading Sestak 52-33. A non-partisan poll was held during a similar timeframe. Their results were Sestak leading Weldon 44-43.
And, from The Hill, this article from July 19, 2006 contains the following:
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported yesterday that Weldon’s pollster, Public Opinion Strategies, had been conducting a push poll, designed to influence a voter’s choice rather than elicit information.
A Sestak supporter said that he was asked whether he would change his opinion if he knew that Sestak had a chance to capture Osama Bin Laden in Sudan in the late 1990s and did not. Sestak served on the National Security Council in the Clinton White House in the mid-1990s, and Weldon has tried to tie Sestak to former President Clinton’s foreign-policy initiatives.
Weldon hired Public Opinion Strategies for $17,000 earlier this year, according to campaign-finance records.
According to this link, POS has performed push-polling in the past.
POS’s website “Research/Methodology page claims they “discourage the use of “polling” as a guise for advocacy calling”.
Glen Bolger, a partner in the Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies, says that while he often conducts polling that seeks to test weaknesses and strengths of both his and the opposition’s candidates, that kind of message-testing is a far cry from the tactics employed by push calls.
They have also conducted the poll for the Connecticut Senate Lieberman/Lamont race (51-35 Lieberman). There is also a question as to if they were possibly involved in push-polling in Vermont this past summer.
According to this source from September 19, 2006, POS was recently involved in push polling regarding the current net neutrality issue facing congress:
The Verizon funded survey* (pdf), conducted by Glover Park Group (traditionally Democratic) and Public Opinion Strategies (traditionally Republican) questioned 800 registered voters on their thoughts on network neutrality. The survey in question uses a tactic known as “push polling”, which presents questions phrased in such a way as to elicit one particular answer.
This is the question asked used to support the committee’s assertion of public opposition to net-neutrality laws:
Which of the following two items do you think is the most important to you: Delivering the benefits of new TV and video choice so consumers will see increased competition and lower prices for cable TV, or enhancing Internet neutrality by barring high speed internet providers from offering specialized services like faster speed and increased security for a fee?
In this case the second option suggests that there is a push to prohibit ISPs from selling faster broadband speeds, a dishonest talking point we’ve seen used by incumbent PR gurus in multiple editorials.
(*pdf file is no longer available at the original provided link in the sourced article)
“The Center for Responsive Politics” provides us with this page that details all expenditures from the NRCC to POS from 1/19/05 to 7/31/06. (Quick count – over $900,000.)
Then, as obscure as it seems, we have an Afghanistan/Iraq connection with POS. The International Republican Institute “is now heavily involved in efforts to establish democratic institutions in Afghanistan and Iraq…”.
…though billing itself as an independent nonprofit unaffiliated with the Republican Party, (it) acts essentially as a wing of the GOP. … Many of IRI’s high-ranking staff members have at some point worked directly for the Bush administration.
What makes these connections troubling is that the organization, nominally dedicated to nurturing free institutions in emerging democracies, has also been associated with unscrupulous and undemocratic campaign practices both at home and overseas.
And who are some of those “advising IRI on how to run Republican-style election campaigns”?
…IRI’s annual reports for 2003 and 2004 include among their lists of volunters a significant number of Republican pollsters, consultants, strategists, public opinion researchers, and campaign website designers, some of whom have come under fire for unethical practices.
For example, Rob Autry and Gene Ulm are with Public Opinion Strategies, the largest Republican polling firm. POS was responsible for the “Harry and Louise” ad in the early 90’s that scuttled Clinton’s health insurance proposals. In 2001, it was charged with violating Virginia’s polling disclosure laws, and it has also been accused of using push polls to influence elections.
I’ll be a bit skeptical when Public Opinion Strategies releases their results for the Kuhl/Massa poll. Public Opinion Strategies seems to have an excellent track record in producing positive results for their clients.