Local News

Telephone Polling Tactic Called Negative, Misleading

Posted October 9, 2002 6:45 a.m. EDT

— With the November general election just weeks away, some candidates are pulling out all the campaign stops. That includes a tactic called push polling.

There are three types of telephone election polling: Opinion polling asks for voter opinions, get-out-the-vote polling is designed to get voters to the polls and push polling is a form of political telemarketing that is responsible for misleading attacks on candidates.

"It's very negative and very misleading. You don't have time to ask questions back. They are giving you one side of the story and it's slanted," said Chris Heagarty of the

North Carolina Center for Voter Education


"Push polls are very unethical in politics," said Carolyn Grant, the Republican nominee for North Carolina's new 13th Congressional District.

Grant believes she has been the target of push polling.

"You know when people say untrue things about you, it is very, very disturbing. But you know you have to take that for what it's worth," she said.

The campaign of Grant's opponent, Democrat Brad Miller, told WRAL, "We absolutely do not push poll."

Heagarty said, "The purpose of them is negative campaigning to depress voter turnout. They are not trying to win you over to a candidate. They are trying to convince you that politics is so bad that you should stay home. That's wrong."

Ferrel Guillory, head of Southern Politics and Media at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, offers this advice:

"The best thing for voters to do is when they are called is to stop and ask 'Who is your client? Who are you working for?' The poll taker gets a sense of whether this is a legitimate poll or not," Guillory said.

State elections officials report at least half a dozen complaints each election about push polling.

To register a complaint with the North Carolina Center for Voter Education

click here