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Poll misused

August 6, 2012
The Mining Journal

To the Journal editor:

I received a phone call this evening from Las Vegas. Maybe you did, too. The earnest sounding young woman was conducting a "survey", she said. It seemed legitimate at first-Are you over 18 years of age?

How certain are you that you will vote in the November congressional election, etc. After a few neutral questions about candidates Gary McDowell and Dan Benishek, the call soon deteriorated into an unabashed glowing description of Dan Benishek followed by a long litany of derogatory distortions of Gary McDowell.

When I questioned the objectivity of the survey, the interviewer suddenly claimed that she was having computer problems and would have to terminate the interview.

When I objected to the phony interview, she assured me that it was legitimate and that I would be called back later to finish the interview. That was hours ago and I'm still waiting.

This political tactic by Benishek supporters is what The American Association for Public Opinion Research refers to as a "push poll," which is a blatant misuse of the survey method used to exploit the trust people have in research organizations; it clearly violates the AAPOR Code of Professional Ethics and Practices.

Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Justice depend on survey respondents to collect important data from citizens for essential program planning and evaluation.

When candidates and political interest groups pose as researchers to promote their own interests, they erode the capacity of legitimate researchers to secure cooperation of respondents.

The percentage of people who are willing to complete a survey has dropped drastically in recent years, thanks in large part to such unethical practices.

Dan Benishek touts the fact that he is a doctor. I would hope that as a physician he would display a higher regard for professional ethics that this incident displayed. He campaigned in the last election with the slogan "Enough is enough." He was an outsider, not a politician.

Enough really is enough.

Cornell R. DeJong




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