The LA. Times set off a bit of a firestorm today claiming the Clinton campaign was “push polling” in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Their tip on claimed “push polling” came from Ed Coghlan, “who’s a former news director for a local TV station.”
But was it really “push polling”?
“Not likely,” says Mark Blumenthal at Pollster.com:
The call that Coghlan describes sounds more like a message testing survey that included many negative messages about Clinton’s opponents. In other words, someone called a random sample of voters with the intent to “elicit answers,” or more specifically reactions, to negative messages that the Clinton campaign or an allied group considered airing in California.
Negative campaign messages may be offensive, unfair or untrue, and it would certainly be reasonable to question the Clinton campaign on the fairness or truthfulness of the messages tested in this call. Legitimate message testing surveys sometimes cross ethical lines, especially when they raise explosive topics that candidates are unwilling to discuss openly (see the controversy over the calls in New Hampshire and Iowa that tested negative messages about the Mitt Romney’s religion).
In this case, however, the only specific negative message that Coughlin reports is the attack on Barack Obama for his “present” votes in the Illinois legislature. Both Clinton and Edwards raised that issue openly in the South Carolina debate.
So far, at least, Malcolm’s claim to have uncovered a “malicious political virus” operating “under the guise of an honest poll” is not supported by the facts reported.
In their piece on the claimed, but proven not to be “push polling,” Calitics made note of the HuffPo piece on the pro-Clinton 527’s here in California, but they neglected to mention the 527’s in California that are working on behalf of Barack Obama.
I got to say, as a registered Democrat who lives in the Sen Fernando Valley, I must have missed the “push polling” calls. Or maybe Ed Coghlan was the only person they called. Some bloggers who jumped to accuse the Clinton campaign of dirty tricks, may want to correct the record as per Pollster.com.
UPDATE: Nicole Belle on C&L calls the L.A. Times piece “a perfectly Rovian hit piece in the Times right before the primary.”