Some of the more excitable righties on the blogosphere and John Key have taken a throw-away comment in Audrey Young’s blog to mean that Helen Clark said Labour will be doing push-polling. Here’s what was actually said, according to Young’s recording:
Reporter: Will Labour use push-polling with ‘the truth?’
Clark: Well I’m not sure how you can ‘push’ with the truth. You can say to people that your policy is X or that somebody else’s policy is X and ask for an opinion on that. But it is important that what you are saying is someone’s policy actually is the policy. I think it is important to be honest about it.’
So, Clark says polling regarding people’s opinions on the real policies of parties is legitimate (note, not Labour will do it). Is that endorsing push-polling?
Push polling is ‘a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll’. Famous examples include the Bush push-poll against McCain in 2000 “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?” and the Crosby/Textor push poll against Sue Robinson ‘Would you be more or less likely to vote for Robinson if they knew she had publicly supported abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy’. Both the questions did not relate to actual facts but were designed to instil belief those facts were real in the minds of voters.
The essence of push-polling is dishonesty. Clark is saying polling to establish public views of real policies is legitimate, there’s no dishonesty there and so no push-polling.