Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Corzine's "Push" for a Senate Seat

In 2000, I was a college student in Melbourne, FL, working part time at a not-so-reputable market research company doing telephone surveys.  Truly thankless work.  That year, John Corzine would win a very close race against Bob Franks, spending $62 million of his own money in what would be the most expensive Senate campaign in history.

So how did he spend all of that money?  I certainly can't account for all of it, but I know that he sent a good chunk of it to Florida, funding political "poll" calls, most of which were anything but.  These "push polls" go something like this:  a few legitimate questions to make it feel like a true poll, followed by questions that are intended to push an idea about a candidate.  One of the most well-known examples of this occurred during the 2000 Republican Presidential primary, when Karl Rove used a push poll with the question "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?"

"Good evening, I hope I
interrupted your dinner!"
Push polls are dirty politics, to be sure, but with the exception of New Hampshire, they're legal.  But Corzine didn't stop there.  In the few days before the election, we were given a new script.  No more poll questions, just a simple message reminding folks to get out and vote.  What could possibly be wrong with that?  Well, as it turns out, quite a bit.  What we did was target some very close districts with repeated calls.  The kicker?  We said that we were calling on behalf of Corzine's opponent, Franks.  After ten or fifteen of these calls in one evening, it was understandable that many voters were irate, and informed us they'd be voting for Corzine before slamming down the phone.  Only when we got someone to that point did take them off of our call list.

So did all of this chicanery work?  Well, Corzine won the race by just four percentage points (less than 5,000 votes), so you'd have to think so.  Am I proud to have been involved?  No, but I think we all know what it's like to be young and broke. Is anything about Corzine a reason to vote Republican? Not for anyone in the current field.

No comments:

Post a Comment