Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Why Don't You Just Tell Me Who You're Going to Vote For?

Over at 2 Political Junkies, Maria blogs about "Two Bizarre Phone Calls". The second call she describes:

"...was a recorded message that purported to be a poll. It went something like this:"

"We have a mayor's race. If you are going to vote for Ravenstahl press 1, DeSantis press 2, Olivia press 3, Scott press 4, if you want to keep your choice private press 5. There's also a controller's race. If you're for Lamb press 6, etc."

"OK, When the message began, I was excited. Maybe someone was conducting an independent poll!"

But then, she says:

"There was no pause to vote for mayor before controller and at the end it said to press zero to leave your email address if you wanted the results of the poll."

"At some point in listening to the message, I thought that it sounded a bit like Mark Rauterkus."

"I pressed 2 for DeSantis at the end of the message but that didn't allow me to also press 0."

"Was it you, Mark?"

Her story reminds me of this scene from Seinfeld--the one in which Kramer is plagued by wrong-number calls for Moviefone, and he tries to stand in for the automated recording.

In the comments section of Maria's post, the mystery of this phone poll is revealed.

Speaking of surveys, The Post-Gazette's Early Returns and The Burgh Report's Admiral Richard K. Turner recount how a mayor's race poll on KD Radio's website was hacked by a city goverment employee in order to favor Mayor Ravenstahl. The mayor's spokeswoman Alecia Sirk is quoted as confirming "it was a crazy tactic for supporting the mayor" that the city worker launched at home on his own time.

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, this just goes to show that online polls aren't worth the paper they're not printed on.

In pre-internet days, some Pittsburgh controller's office employees were suspected of repeatedly calling in to skew KQV's Phone Vote. That poll has also always been easy prey for those who "vote early and vote often".



Maria said...

Thanks for the link. Maybe I'm just more sensitive to polls than most having worked at a market research company for years including as their coding director. I also did a brief gig at NBC's Election Division (their polling outfit at the time). I would not have trusted any results coming out of there then due to the double whammy of their paying by the survey and a seemingly utter lack of monitoring.

Mark Rauterkus said...

I've done a good bit of work, review and research with polling.


That site has been hosted on my servers for years. See:


I'm glad to have kicked up a bit of buzz, at least on the blogs and with some callers, about our efforts.

We did a prior poll too, about the judge retention votes. Two to one, folks were saying "NO" to the judges. But, sadly, most were undecided.

So, who did a poll about the controller's race?


Interesting, when Josh Pollock was running for mayor in 2001, Ken Rice's voice called him to ask who he was going to vote for for mayor. Josh was on the D party ballot. Josh could NOT even vote for himself in the poll conducted by TV 2.

Funny, same year, I WON an online poll by WTAE TV 4 -- and I didn't stuff the ballot box. As soon as my numbers went ahead of O'Connors, the news directors at WTAE TV pulled the poll and didn't report upon it.


If you want to schedule a time and place for the release of the polling results I have, call me.

412 298 3432.