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by Dale Connelly, 3/3/00

Dc: This is DCR, news meant for amusement. In the increasingly bitter contest for the presidential nomination in the Enough! Party, candidates Burstyn and Spleen have been pointing fingers about "push polling."
In a push poll, a campaign asks a large cross section of voters a series of questions that are really designed to spread damaging rumors.
Spleen says Burstyn is push polling. Burstyn makes the same claim about Spleen. Here in the studio to help clear things up is Rhonda Alonzo, manager of the Spleen campaign. Thanks for coming in.

Rhonda: Happy to be here.

Dc: Does the Spleen campaign use push polling?

Rhonda: Absolutely not.

Dc: You do nothing that suggests impropriety or spreads innuendo about Governor Burstyn?

Rhonda: Let me be very clear about this. Unlike some other candidates in the race, the Spleen campaign would never ever throw mud at the opposition. And we would never even succumb to the very tempting urge to strike a match to the powder keg of suspicion and distrust lying just under the surface of public opinion where a certain candidate is concerned.

Dc: Are you saying the public is suspicious of Governor Burstyn?

Rhonda: Not at all. I'm also not saying that he makes them nervous, or that he appears unstable in any way.

Dc: We have obtained a tape of one of the survey calls made on behalf of your campaign.

Rhonda: Have you. Really?

Dc: Let's listen.

(phone ringing, internal, pick up)

Citizen: Hello?

Telemarketer: Good evening. I'm calling on behalf of the Senator Sam Spleen campaign in the Enough! Party?

Citizen: Uh … we're in the middle of dinner right now.

Telemarketer: That's OK. I don't mind. This will only take a minute.
Are you planning to vote in the primary?

Citizen: Yes, I am.

Telemarketer: Are you aware of the contest in the Enough! Party?

Citizen: Somewhat, yes.

Telemarketer: Are you aware that this contest has been called "the most troubling and cynical campaign in the history of American politics."

Citizen: Uh … No.

Telemarketer: Which of the following do you think might be responsible for that characterization?

A) Governor Burstyn's advisors.
B) Governor Burstyn's financial backers.
C) Governor Burstyn's staff.
D) Governor Burstyn himself.

Citizen: Uh … I don't know, but I guess it must be somebody connected to Governor Burstyn. So I would say D.

Telemarketer: Which of the following accusations would you be most likely to repeat, were they made against Governor Burstyn?

A) He wants to undermine the domestic beef industry.
B) He wears the same socks two days running.
C) He is wanted in 22 states.
D) He favors cross-species dating.

Citizen: I guess it depends who I was talking to. If it was my kids I'd go with the thing about the socks. With my wife or close friends, I'd probably have a good laugh about the cross species dating. Is he talking about other mammals, or what?

Telemarketer: Sorry, I'm not allowed to elaborate. It's a poll, you understand.

Citizen: Sure. Sorry.

Telemarketer: You'll have to use your imagination.

Citizen: What?

Telemarketer: Here are some things people have said about Governor Burstyn's tax proposals. Whether or not it is true, which would you find most provocative?

A) Governor Burstyn would eliminate taxes for his friends and financial backers.
B) He would double the Federal tax paperwork.
C) Governor Burstyn has proposed a 100% tax bracket for people like you.
D) He wants to funnel our hard earned taxes to the Russian Mafia.

Citizen: That 100 per cent tax bracket sounds pretty bad. So I'll say "C." Look, my food is getting cold.

Telemarketer: Almost done. Given what you've heard, which of these characterizations of Governor Burstyn would you agree with MOST.
He is …
A) Unusual
B) Unreliable
C) Unworthy
D) Unstable

Citizen: I'd jump right to "D", but really it sounds like he's all of the above.

Dc: Ok, we're back with Spleen campaign manager Rhoda Alonzo.
What about this? It's been said that this is unfair.

Rhoda: Of course it's unfair! Governor Burstyn's name was mentioned again and again and again in that call, and Senator Spleen … hardly at all.
A person getting that call would think Burstyn was the only one in the race.

Dc: But it was all negative. And false!

Rhoda: Yes, but name recognition is SO important.

Dc: Still, is this the work of the Spleen campaign?

Rhoda: I didn't hear the caller say who he was representing.

Dc: Of course not. They all work off a prepared sheet on these polling calls and they have it drilled into them not to depart from it at all.

Rhoda: Right, but people still ad-lib. That guy in particular shoots off at the mouth a lot and he has to be reminded to … stick to the script.
(realizes she's given it away)
Probably. I'm guessing. From the little bit I heard, anyway.

Dc: Rhoda Alonzo … campaign manager for Senator Sam Spleen in the Enough! Party primary.


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