May 12, 2021

Refusing push polling tactics

As a lifelong Iowan, I have been contacted by opinion polls such as the Iowa Poll so I am familiar with the procedures they use. I recently received a call asking me to participate in what initially seemed like a valid poll about the Iowa House of Representatives race between Jon Dunwell and Wes Breckenridge. At one point, glowing statements were read to me about Jon Dunwell as if they were facts and I questioned if the poll was legitimate.  When disparaging statements, which did not ring true about Wes Breckenridge were read to me, I told the caller that this was a “push poll” that I would not participate in and hung up.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a push poll as “an ostensible opinion poll in which the true objective is to sway voters using loaded or manipulative questions.” Wikipedia states that push polls are “generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning” and are condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants and the American Association of Public Opinion Research.

In the Aug. 4 Newton News, I read all Jon Dunwell knew about the poll came from Wes Breckenridge’s Facebook post, which he had to stop reading because “it’s never fun to watch people make hard statements about you.” Dunwell refused to acknowledge that push polling had occurred or to publicly condemn push polling but he maintained his name was being used without his consent.

If Jon Dunwell can’t even read about, let alone stop questionable practices like push polling in his own campaign, how effective would he be as an elected representative?

Jane Odland