Last night, I had more fun than I’ve had in awhile. At 9:10 p.m., a bit late for a telemarketer, I got a call from an 800 number. While I usually don’t answer these calls, I picked it up. I was greeted by a live operator who wanted to ask me about political issues in North Carolina. Oh, boy!
It’s been awhile since I’ve gotten a live polling call so I was game and also curious to see who was polling. The caller wouldn’t tell me who commissioned the poll, just that it was conducted by “Action Research.” What a wonderfully generic name.
The poll started out fair enough with a likely voter screen and right direction-wrong direction questions. Then came the head-to-head. “If the election for U. S. Senate were held tomorrow would you vote for a Republican candidate who would provide a check and balance to the Obama administration or would you vote for Senator Kay Hagan who supports the agenda of the Obama administration.” I may not have it word-for-word but that was the gist of it. Either the pollster who wrote the questions is incompetent or he/she is fishing for answers.
At this point, I gathered that the poll was being conducted either for a potential Senate candidate or a group interested in playing in the Senate race on behalf of Republicans. The next set of questions started to give some clarity. “The North Carolina senate released a tax reform plan that would reduce the individual tax rate to 4.5% for all citizens and reduce the corporate tax rate to 6%. The plan would also reduce the sales tax rate but would expand sales tax to some services not currently covered. Do you approve of the plan or not approve of the plan.”
That’s kind of like asking my five year-old, “Your mother has suggested that we have ice cream every night for dinner and then have chocolate cake for dessert. However, you will have to take some additional dishes to the sink. Do you approve of the plan or not approve of the plan.”
Then it got really fun. “Several states are considering or have passed laws that exempt them from enforcing federal gun control laws. Do you think North Carolina should pass laws that exempt it from federal gun control laws?” Hallelujah! I was being polled by the crazies!
The next question asked if I thought that the state had the right to exempt itself from Federal laws that it disagreed with. I couldn’t contain my glee. (For all you wingers and Tea nuts in the audience, we tried this once in the mid-1800s. WE LOST! Then folks tried it again about 60 years ago and LOST again. Please find a more productive way to waste your time.) By this time, I was doubled over laughing and spewing so much commentary that the caller had to take a brief respite to regain his composure.
The rest of the questions were about Benghazi, the IRS and the Justice Department phone records. The final question, before the requisite demographic info was whether or not I believed that the Federal government was operating under the original intentions of the constitution. I let loose on one more diatribe about people who think the Constitution is stuck in time instead of a living document. The original intent clearly allowed slavery and limited the right to vote to white male landowners. That’s not the direction I think we should go.
By the end of the survey, I had determined that the poll was commissioned by Senator Phil Berger, the Republican state senate caucus or an allied group. I suspect Berger because of the questions about Hagan and national issues, but it could be a looney Tea Party-affiliated group.
Regardless, look for a press release in the next few days saying that a generic Republican is polling close to Hagan and that the Senate tax plan has widespread support. Don’t believe it. The poll was written with leading questions. If it was not designed to influence the public debate, the sponsors should demand a refund because the poll doesn’t tell us where the public is on these issues, just where the sponsor wants it to be.
But, hey, I had fun.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >