Jan 12, 2008

Stuffing the Ballot Box

A got a little bit of enjoyment from today's San Diego Union Tribune poll results in today's Family section:

Tell Us About It
January 12, 2008

Last week, we asked for your predictions about who would win the Republican primary in New Hampshire. Could there have been some ballot-stuffing going on for one long-shot candidate? Take a look.

78% Ron Paul
8% John McCain
6% Mike Huckabee
5% Mitt Romney
2% Rudy Giuliani
1% Fred Thompson

TOTAL RESPONSES: 2,381
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20080112/news_1c12tellusm.html


For some reason, reading this article made me laugh. I love it that someone (or a room full of someones) decided to own this reader poll for their candidate. Interestingly, the actual New Hampshire polling data wasn't much better was it?

I once had a role in a presidential campaign. No, I wasn't the candidate, 2008 is actually the first year I would be eligible to run. Thanks for wondering though.

One of my duties was to set up what were called "Debate Parties." The purpose of these parties was to get a whole bunch of people together in a room full of pizza and phone lines. As soon as the Presidential debate was over, everyone was to drop the pizza and start dialing.

In front of each person was a phone and a list of television and radio talk shows and the call-in number. Larry King, C-SPAN, local and national radio programs, etc. The party goer's job was to call those numbers, get on the air live, and say that our candidate clearly won the debate and that they were the most "presidential." It really didn't matter whether or not they had even watched the debate; it didn't matter if our candidate was utterly destroyed by his opponent. The point was to flood the airwaves with positive spin in order to influence the unsuspecting electorate.

Across town, another debate party for our opponent was also in full swing with the same phone numbers. These debate parties are held all over the country on debate nights. I'm sorry to report that many, if not most of the callers you hear after a debate on these shows, are campaign volunteers and not your random average American.

When I watch campaign coverage today, I like to guess which callers to these shows are actually legit, and how many are just pizza freeloaders who are playing the game. Its much easier to tell if the host of the program decides to get them to elaborate on their opinion. They are immediately stumped. Truth is, they probably have more nuggets of sausage in front of them than nuggets of debate insight.

With all the spin and political gaming going on, accuracy is often lacking. I am concerned that the candidates may be more distracted with playing and winning the game rather than giving a solid vision for our country. Someone once remarked that Washington is just like Hollywood, except that what happens in Washington is real.

And it has real consequences.

Its already an interesting year.

SCF
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