Push Me Poll You

So, was it a push-poll?

It sure felt like it*.

*Although an actual polling expert has checked in to say it was "message testing" instead... I'll get to that later.

So by 'it' I mean the New Jersey Opinion Research Poll which has swept through our town like a foul wind, blowing seeds of spin into the minds of participants... the missionof any push-poll.

I ask (and am answering) the question because a few have challenged that it was in fact an actual poll and not a push-poll.

First, you may either want to read the poll questions at GA , or hear the actual poll on video over at MSV ( big props to the Wiley Coyote for putting the vid together).

Lord Wiki says:

The mildest forms of push polling are designed merely to remind voters of a particular issue. For instance, a push poll might ask respondents to rank candidates based on their support of an issue in order to get voters thinking about that issue.

Many push polls are negative attacks on other candidates. These attacks often contain information with little or no basis in fact.

One way to distinguish between push polling as a tactic and polls which legitimately seek information is the sample size. Genuine polls make do with small, representative samples, whereas push polls can be very large, like any other mass marketing effort.

By these metrics, the so-called 'facts' and suppositions taken from the Mason-Swibinski playbook seem pretty push-poll-y to me, such as:

  • A '$20 million surplus' when only $12 million is available with the other $8 million being held for municipal workers' retroactive pay raises pending arbitration
  • The Mason municipal garage talking point which assumes the developer would have paid $25 million for a property worth $14 million
  • The deliberate exclusion of facts (such as the other 18 municipal workers being laid off in addition to police officers) that would moderate or threaten to dilute the participant's response
  • The polling a city-wide effort similar to a direct mail campaign
Is it a pure push-poll, designed only to implant a negative message and not to actually analyze results?

No. I think this poll serves both purposes.

Now... while I was writing this I found that an actual polling expert, Director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, Patrick Murray, had dropped by GA with a comment that this was not a case of "push-polling" but one of "message-testing"...

Here is Mr. Murray's comment:

You weren't "push-polled" - you were "message-tested"


I will defer to Mr. Murray's expertise on the subject and read his article, parts 1 and 2.

It's the embedding of lies and talking points to influence the participants' opinion that seems to me the push in this poll.