CD 10 Candidates Getting Pushy?

Austin blogger alleges Doherty is push-polling; LJD campaign say poll was a standard survey

Is Larry Joe Doherty running a push poll against Dan Grant, his Democratic primary opponent for Congressional District 10? That’s the charge made by Austin blogger Trey McAtee, aka “mcblogger," and echoed by Grant campaign manager Kelly Fero. (A “push poll” is a campaign tactic in which respondents are given negative information about a candidate or issue, and then asked whether they support that candidate/issue.)

“Many of us have been subjected in recent days to a telephone push poll paid for by Doherty in which he spreads personal smears about his primary opponent, Austin's own Dan Grant,” McAtee wrote on Tuesday. “This sleazy tactic is straight out of Karl Rove's playbook for negative campaigns.” Asked about such a poll, Fero replied via e-mail that “[I] am aware that Larry Joe has paid for one in his race. We have heard from numerous voters who have called the Dan Grant campaign to express their anger at the calls and their support of Grant as a result.”

However, Doherty campaign manager James Aldrete denied that the survey commissioned from pollster Donna Victoria constituted a push poll. Using the “Dog Bites Man” newspaper headline analogy, Aldrete said, “‘Politician Does Poll.’ It’s pretty standard.

"It was a 400-person survey. Forty questions, and it was a live call. And most surveys will test positives and negatives. But when you’re doing 400, as opposed to what push polls really [do], which is 10,000 or 20,000 calls, they’re often automated, and they’re never longer than two or three minutes to get the volume … They’re out to spread the negative information as opposed to doing a random sample.”

This reporter was not a recipient of the calls, although I do live in CD 10. Aldrete denied a request to provide the Chronicle with a copy of the questions asked, saying that the polling was done for strategic purposes and internal planning.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Elections, Election 2008, Larry Joe Doherty, Dan Grant, Michael McCaul, mcblogger, Kelly Fero, James Aldrete

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