The City of Troy, New York, "Where Henry Hudson Turned Around."

Monday, October 22, 2007


Who's polling Troy voters? Who's flipping the bill?

According to the Times Union:

The New York Survey Alliance has telephoned Troy voters about the mayoral race between incumbent Republican Harry Tutunjian and Democrat James Conroy. The phone call concludes with three loaded questions about Conroy.

That has the sound of a push poll, Conroy says, referring to a less than upfront campaign tactic in which the effort casts negative aspersions on a candidate rather than eliciting information.

Still, one Rensselaer County Republican operative said it's not unusual for negative questions to be grouped at the end of a poll as a way of seeking issues that could be raised during a campaign if they are needed.

Tutunjian maintains he's relying on direct mail and advertising and isn't using the phones. "We're not doing any type of polling. I'm not aware of it," he said in reference to the job being done by the New York Survey Alliance.
Conroy isn't letting his opponent off the hook.

"It's the lowest form of campaigning, but I wouldn't expect anything else. If he doesn't know of it, his lieutenants do," Conroy said.

Meanwhile, Tutunjian is riled by automatic phone calls from his opponent's campaign, but Conroy's comfortable with that tactic.

"We announce who we are, who we're calling in a straightforward manner," said Conroy, whose campaign's financial filings include payment for a pollster.

Push-Polling has long been considered unethical, even for politicians. Push Polls start out innocuous but then ask such questions such as, "Would your opinion of Candidate X change if you knew he had molested a dozen young spider monkeys?" The respondant gets so angry at Candidate X that they want to push him. Really hard. Hence the term, push-polling.*

The New York Survey Alliance is no stranger to push-polling accusations.

Doug McCool, another Dutchess County resident contacted by the pollsters, said he became suspicious when the caller identified his company as the 'New York Survey Alliance,' because the caller ID showed a number in Fairfield County, Conn. "The problem here is that you have a company misidentifying themselves and trying to push voters to one side or another based on fictitious rumors," said Mr. McCool. "It seemed like nasty politics, and it's unfortunate we have to deal with that in this area."

Harry denies knowledge of any such polling. That's fine. However, someone with an interest in Troy's mayoral contest paid for the poll. Who? As Harry said at the debate, "everyone in the state is talking about Troy." Maybe someone in Rochester paid for the poll. Maybe it was the Rockland County GOP Committee. 'Everyone' is a lot of people.

If you review the financial disclosure filings of the usual suspects, no one is paying for the polling. Almost all of the usual suspects have filed their 32-Day Pre-General filings. By mere coincidence, the 32-Day Pre-General filing must be submitted to the Board of Elections 32 days before (or pre)the general election. The one exception, the Rensselaer County Republican Committee. They've yet to file.

We don't expect the polling to show-up on any disclosure. Much like the calls from City Hall made by Colleen Reagan. The GOP philosophy seems to be, if they're not reported they must not exist.

*The hallmark of push-polling is the intent, not negative questions. Legitimate polling can, and does, ask negative questions. The purpose behind a push poll is not to seek answers to questions, it's to campaign. The 'pollster' doesn't really care about the answer. It's all about the question.

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