Of course NOM’s so-called push poll on same sex marriage is not to be trusted. But it’s not because the anti-equality advocacy group asked manipulative questions, as ThinkProgress, The Phoenix and the Providence Journal all reported yesterday. It’s because the robo-call didn’t accept answers it didn’t like, as John McDaid reported two weeks ago.
“Then came the poll: ‘Do you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman?’ The system was unable to process the answer that this reporter provided, and the call terminated, with the usual disclaimer that this was not paid for by any candidate, etc.,” McDaid wrote for RIFuture on January 31.
As such, it’s actually a compliment – not an insult – to call what NOM did a push poll because it wasn’t even a poll at all. It was a robo-call seeking like-minded responses to present a false picture of Rhode Island to the public and the press.
It’s bad enough to advocate for discrimination, but at least do it on its merits without also cheating. Opinion, spin, bias, even outright misrepresentation are all tactics we all readily accept in political debate. But this is something entirely more nefarious – this is fraud. Citizens, journalists, pundits and politicians should all condemn NOM for the deception. But pollsters should be most furious because it devalues the otherwise valuable social metric that polls provide.
UPDATE: It turns out McDaid isn’t the only one whose answers were rejected by NOM’s call. I got this tweet shortly after posting this story:
— Keep Providence Lame (@lameprov) February 13, 2013
And McDaid added this:
@bobplain read questions on RINOM, appears to be a different script. So were there multiple polls? Wonder what other results looked like.
— John McDaid (@jmcdaid) February 13, 2013
In McDaid’s initial post, he said he had been contacted by a NOM robo-call posing as a phone poll in early January as well. During that call, on January 11, he was able to register his support for same sex marriage. It’s possible the robo-call was programmed to accept a predetermined number of responses that would bolster NOM’s talking points.
McDaid caught the NOM call in a different kind of deception that time. The call claimed to come from a Rhode Island number, but his caller id claimed otherwise. He even took a picture of the evidence: