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Push Polling in Jackson Mayoral Race

Push Polling in Jackson Mayoral Race

By: Magnolia Tribune - March 30, 2005

by Alan Lange

Well, just a couple of weeks after the amateur plumber has struck in Jackson, it looks like someone has called in the professionals. has received numerous email complaints from voters in West Jackson about so called “push polling” that appear to have been done to drive home negative perceptions about Frank Melton. There is rumored to be a full end-to-end recording of one of these calls and we are scrambling quickly to discern if there is such a tape and to make it public as soon as possible.

In searching for a good definition of a push poll, I found the following from the National Council on Public Polls.

A “Push Poll” is a telemarketing technique in which telephone calls are used to canvass vast numbers of potential voters, feeding them false and damaging “information” about a candidate under the guise of taking a poll to see how this “information” effects voter preferences. In fact, the intent is to “push” the voters away from one candidate and toward the opposing candidate. This is clearly political telemarketing, using innuendo and, in many cases, clearly false information to influence voters; there is no intent to conduct research.

The reports we have received all indicate that people calling from the “Mississippi Research Group” (of which there is none listed with the Secretary of State) over the last five nights were asking very leading questions with specifically derogatory insinuations about Frank Melton.

A Google search regarding Rick Whitlow turned up nothing. However, a Google Search has revealed a Harvey Johnson connection to just such a group. “Winning Connections is one of the nation’s leading telephone voter contact and grassroots advocacy firms for progressive candidates and causes,” according to their website. Their client list features Harvey Johnson as a client. One of their principals, Brad Chism is listed as a Millsaps College graduate. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

Upon calling them this afternoon and asking for information about the Mississippi Research Group, I spoke to a young lady named Jackie who told me (nervously) that their firm she believed “had done some work for the Mississippi Research Group”, but she didn’t have any further information.

There is a great deal more information available on their web site including the type of outbound voter survey and educational services that could be tailored to this type of result.

I certainly cannot make the definitive conclusion that Winning Connections has made push poll calls for the Johnson campaign, but their knowledge of the Mississippi Research Group certainly would indicate some connection. With the information we have so far, I certainly don’t see a smoking gun, but I do see a lot of smoke, especially in light of the “covert” email campaign that was brought to light in the Wilson Carroll article last week.

Please feel free to add any information you might have and certainly, if you have recieved these types of calls from either campaign, please document that here.

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