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Did Clark endorse push-polling?

Written By: - Date published: 3:59 pm, July 3rd, 2008 - 18 comments
Categories: helen clark, polls - Tags: ,

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.

18 comments on “Did Clark endorse push-polling? ”

  1. Peter Nelson 1

    [lprent: deleted and banned. Can’t be bothered arguing with a idiotic troll that is too stupid to learn]

  2. Honestly, is that the best reponse you can come up with to a properly argued post? No counter-argument, no ‘your logic is flawed’, just homophobia? Where’s the intelligent debate? Why always so keen to jump on the slogan bandwagons without researching first? Why always so ready to parade around as a bigot?

    [lprent: It was interesting. Reminded me of the trolls of yesteryear (the far distant days of 2007). He’d been warned by both myself and Irish in previous months. So he can have a permanent ban. Obviously incapable of learning.]

  3. Billy 4

    Bye, Rob.

  4. Dissent will not be tolerated

    [lprent: Dissent is tolerated, and indeed encouraged. Pathetic idiots who don’t have the nounce to say anything intelligible are not. They just make it irritating for everyone else.
    You have actually been doing pretty well – why stop now?]

  5. Condone/condemn... who cares? 6

    Dumb tories never let the facts get in the way of a good story…Say something loud and often enough and people will swallow it… it does seem to work for them….

  6. higherstandard 7

    C/C

    Are you suggesting this tactic isn’t commonly employed by all sides ?

    or to quote you on the different tack

    “Dumb socialists never let the facts get in the way of a good story Say something loud and often enough and people will swallow it…

    I think tis the nature of politics.

  7. Lampie 8

    basically leading questions then, hmmmm bet most do it anyway

  8. Lampie 9

    research companies i’m talking about

  9. insider 10

    Just a matter of fact, Crosby Textor did not exist as an organisation until 2002. The push poll you refer to was done by Textor and another guy in 1995, who were sued. Crosby wasn’t involved AFAIK.

    Any evidence they have done such polls in the 13 years since?

  10. Weather Eye Of The North 11

    Helen signals that she’s going hard. Good on her !

    How I’d hate to be Key in the hours leading up to the first live Leaders’ Debate. Tight legfit, rubber undies I’d guess.

    How can this man possibly ever be PM ?

  11. Oliver 12

    The problem with Clark’s position on thia is that she and Labour are not always honest when they talk about National.

    They can’t tell the diference between something that’s open to competition like NZ Post and something that’s been privatised like Telecom.

    Helen likes to tell everyone that Key personally profited from the sale of Tranzrail when he didn’t.

    Trevor likes to tell Pokies about Public Servants in the House.

    Cullen refused to withdraw comments about Chch property developers after they turned out to be incorrect.

    Lianne Dalziel likes to breach immigrants privacy.

    Annette King promised to give a months notice before increasing the Road User Charge and then only gave a days notice.

    Margaret Wilson promised not to abolish the right to appeal to the Privy Council unless there was broad support from Maoridom and business but then did it anyway?

    Helen claimed that the Parliamentary Service okayed the pledge card expenditure and then it turned out that Heather Simpson had actually told Parliamentary Services that it they had to pay the money because she had okayed the expenditure.

    Mike Williams told parliamentary services that Labour would count the pledge card expenditure against Labours election return and then didn’t do any such thing.

    Trevor Mallard told people that National had a mega-wealthy American paying for the last election and then it turned out that he was telling porkies and that the American in question had actually donated to Labour.

    If those are the things that I can remember without having to research then no doubt there a whole lot more. If Labour went out and polled with these things that I’ve just mentioned would that count as “honest push-polling” or the sort of “anti-democratic dirty tricks” that you at the Standard dislike so much?

  12. Draco TB 13

    Annette King promised to give a months notice before increasing the Road User Charge…

    No, She didn’t. She said she would introduce legislation that would allow for a months notice. This legislation hasn’t gone through yet.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/multimedia/video.cfm?c_id=1&gal_objectid=10519742&gallery_id=1383

  13. Monty 14

    Clark is refusing to rule out push polling – Key has ruled it out. Clark as you will be well aware is a very astute politician – she is the master at keeiong a distance between herself and the coal face of a scandal. So when Labour does undertake its push polls (and lets face it there is bugger all left that they can do when being out polled nearly 2:1) she will have plausable deniability. Won’t help though – she is Labour and Labour is her – destroy one and the other will also be destroyed (both happening in a town near you on 18 October 2008)

  14. Blar 15

    Insider makes a good point Steve – you should tell the truth. Crosby | Textor wasn’t around in 1995 – the incident you refer to was settled by Mark Textor himself without an admission of liability.

    This is sort of off topic but I think the ABC’s Anthony Green was spot on on Morning Report yesterday.

    “I think sometimes it’s easy to paint them as being devils when they’re actually doing no more than doing what everyone else does in spin-doctoring but just happen to be doing it a lot better and doing it for the right of politics,

    “What has occured in Australia is the Labor party has tended to accuse everything Crosby | Textor does of being push polling when push polling itself as a term is quite specific in its meaning,

    “Crosby | Textor have used [inaudible] in 2001 fear of boat people and things but in many ways, who is there to say that isn’t a legitimate fear of the electorate? And, it’s often a tactic of people who, on the left of politics, to accuse anyone who raises those issues of being racist as a way of shutting them up.

    Hmm. Very interesting comments from someone who is often accused of being left-leaning.

  15. Oliver 16

    Draco TB,

    I recalled 11 items off the top of my head in under 5 minutes before shooting out to do a message. I’m sure that if I were to sit down and spend a couple of hours researching I could come up with a whole bunch more. You have placed a bit of doubt around 1 of those items but that still leaves 10 gapping holes in Helen’s definition of “honest push-polling and the Standard’s defence of her.

  16. Ari 17

    HS- it’s already done on both sides, of course- I think C/C was more pointing out that Helen’s being misrepresented a bit here by the right-wingers as supporting “push-polling” when that term usually refers to trying to push lies through leading poll questions without having to actually back up the claim. (For instance, if I polled called someone up and asked them if it would influence their vote for Winston Peters if they knew he ate babies) Helen Clark says she doesn’t see the problem so long as nobody’s lying about anyone else’s policies. I think that’s okay- if they’re willing to pay pollsters to advertise other parties’ policies, good for them. Perhaps such polls should count under EFA advertising spending limits, and at the very least leading questions should be counted as slander/libel if they can’t be factually established, but that’s about the worst I have to say on it.

    I would prefer if she didn’t resort to such tactics, but National is pulling worse, so I say fair enough until they clean up their game, stop misdirecting, and release some substantial policy instead of playing “small target”.

    Blar- I don’t think representing people’s comments fairly and pointing out the message it sends is untrue, and that what it says about refugees could be interpretted as racist and hostile, qualifies in any way as “shutting them up”. Rather, it’s trying to shame them. If shutting up is the preferred response to the shame of having your tactics called out as anti-refugee, panic-mongering, and racist, then that’s okay, but some people react to shame by sticking by their principles, because they don’t believe they’re racist, or because they don’t care they’re racist, and I support their right to do that.

    But republishing someone’s remarks under fair use to shame them is NOT suppressing the political dialogue- it’s opening it up. You have a right to do similar things to Helen Clark’s statement, just like the Standard has a right to critique your take on things. 🙂

  17. Craig Ranapia 18

    Well, Steve, I’m sure that there are people out there who are absolutely convinced that it’s “The truth” that John McCain is a wife-beating psycho who committed treason while a POW, and has had more than one illegitimate child with black prostitutes. And a legitimate pulbic policy question because, after all, do you want a abusive taitor with the morals of a guinea pig occupying the White House? You might also have picked up that Barak Obama, in a masterpiece of Orwellian double(or is that triple-)think is not only a flaming red ‘Marxist’, but in thrall to a white-hating fundie Christian cult AND an Islamofascist Manchurian candidate.

    Ms. Clark might also want to contemplate this: the possibility that Ian Wishart absolutely, positively believes in the veracity of a certain tome currently on sale in bookshops everywhere. She may not agree.

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