IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING PUSH-POLLS
From time to time we get respondents who participate in one of our surveys and think they participated in a push-poll. Promark does not engage in push-polls. Please follow the link below to learn how one of the industry organizations define push-polls and feel at ease knowing that the survey you completed was certainly not a push-poll.
What is a Push Poll?
A push poll is not a true poll, nor does it seek to measure public opinion. Push polling involves an individual influencing another’s view by asking manipulative questions in the guise of an actual poll.
This is often done during political campaigns when push pollers attempt to sway a potential voter’s decision toward or away from a candidate. Sometimes, the polls are conducted via automated telephone calls, automated touch-tone polls, or interactive voice response systems. Though not illegal, the practice of push polling is unethical, it is misleading, and Promark does not allow it.
The AAPOR (American Association of Public Opinion Research) strongly forbids push polling because of its negative impact on the public. When people receive a fraudulent phone survey that attempts to distort or manipulate their views, it spreads a contagious mistrust for all future surveys. People then become apprehensive to legitimate surveys performed by Promark and other reputable research entities.
How Do I Recognize a Push Poll?
Understanding the difference between push polling and ethical research can be tricky. First, let’s define what a push poll is NOT.
A genuine survey will have certain characteristics. The AARPO states that these criteria apply to most legitimate surveys:
- The caller properly identifies him-/herself and their legitimate call center or organization. However, they may keep their sponsor anonymous to discourage any bias from the interviewee.
- The interview contains more than one or just a few questions.
- The questions are usually balanced and unbiased, usually asking about more than one candidate and mentioning both sides of an issue.
- The interviewer asks demographic questions, such as party affiliation.
- The survey is based on a random sample of voters.
- The number of respondents falls within the normal range of legitimate surveys (between 400- 1500 interviews).
Secondly, it’s important to know that just because a survey contains negative information about a political candidate does not necessarily make it a push poll. Often, politicians conduct surveys to test the effectiveness of certain campaign messages or ads containing negative content about candidates or issues. These political message-testing surveys are often confused with push polling.
Message testing surveys may need to communicate positive or negative political content. Thus, they are subject to complaints and the focal point of many political controversies. Because they can be biased and misleading like a fraudulent poll, they should receive the same scrutiny as any other poll.
Now, here are a few tips to pinpoint a push poll:
- Does the caller identify his/her call center? This MAY be a push poll.
- Is the call center legitimate? If not…this MAY be a push poll.
- Does the caller ask only one or a few questions? This MAY be a push poll.
- Are the questions strongly positive or negative? This MAY be a push poll.
- Is the caller evasive when you asked for more information? This MAY be a push poll!!
There are other factors that survey professionals and journalists use to indicate possible push polls. The survey may be a push poll if:
- the organization conducting the survey is hard to find.
- a significant number of respondents (several thousands) are contacted for the “survey”
- the survey calls are not based on a random sample.
What Can We Do About Push Polls?
The AAPOR has alerted the public about push polling and has conducted investigations on many complaints on this form of unethical telemarketing. It urges its members and the media to report acts of push polling and to alert the public promptly.
But you can help, too! If you think you have received a push poll call:
- Using the tips provided above, try to get as much information as you can from the caller.
- At the minimum, try to retrieve the name and location of the organization conducting the “poll.”
- Ask the caller about the organization conducting the calls, the number of people called, the questions that will be included, and how the interview information will be used.
- Take notes on the specific questions that you were asked.
- If you are a reporter, seek to discern if the poll is part of a legitimate message-testing survey.
- Contact us at Promark.
Help Us Stop Push Polling