June 18, 2004

Act Now Ohio?

The phone rang tonight at about 6:30 p.m. The young female caller asked for my 25 year-old son by his first name only. The rest of the conversation went like this:

Me: He doesn't live here anymore This is his father. Who's calling?

Caller: Well then maybe you can help me. My name is Lisa Hartley and I'm with Act Now Ohio, and we're calling Ohio citizens to get their responses on some important issues. Let me ask you...do you know anyone who has lost their job in the last couple of years?

Me: Who are you again?... and what organization are you with?

(Caller repeats above script verbatim)

Me: Yes, I do know of someone who has lost his job recently.

Caller: Do you consider yourself to be a Democrat or a Republican?

Me: I lean Republican.

Caller: Do you think you would vote for John Kerry or George Bush in the November election?

Me: George Bush.

Caller: OK, which of the following statements do you agree with most:

a)We need affordable health care.

b)We need to create jobs and employment.

c)We need to get our country's priorities back in order.

Me: I think those are all pretty vague concepts as you've stated them, and it sounds to me like an agenda-driven question.

Caller: Well, thank you for your time. (Hangs up)

I'm sure the conversation would have continued had I not outed myself as a likely Bush voter, although I'm not sure what direction the call would have taken. Obviously there is no wrong answer to the question, other than perhaps mine, a refusal to bite. All of the statements were implicitly critical of the status quo, and as such, current administration policies. And they suggest currently favored left liberal initiatives as solutions. i.e. We need affordable health care. (We don't have it now...hmmm, maybe the government should run it?). We need to get our priorities back in order. (They are out of whack now...hmmm, maybe if we could replace the priority-setters?). And of course if you know anyone who has lost his job in the last two years, well, what does that say about the policies of the Bush administration?

I don't mind people campaigning for one or another of the candidates. I'll even engage them on the phone at home at dinnertime, just for sport. I just don't appreciate it when advocacy comes badly camouflaged as a "survey" purporting to be soliciting my views, when its content seems designed more to influence them. Or maybe we Bush voters are just written off as soon as we self-identify. It's the undecided folks and likely Kerry voters that get to talk longer.

My best guess is that it's a recruiting tool to identify likely Kerry campaign volunteers. After all, Act Now Ohio doesn't sound much like a polling organization. It sounds like an advocacy group of some sort, and it's not too tough to figure out what sort that is. If a respondent takes the bait they may be asked to work for the campaign in some way. Guys like me they just want to get off of the phone as soon as possible. Maybe someone can tell me who these people are. (Google has not helped thus far.) I'll keep my eye out for them on the way to November.

Posted by dan at June 18, 2004 11:18 PM