Monday, February 02, 2015

Someone's Polling Dems in Iowa

Well SOMEone must have read POLITICO over the weekend, because I just got some sweet, sweet caucus love. Well, maybe not, but at least someone asked.

I sat through a 15 or 20 minute survey call that appeared to be testing messages and bio stories for either Elizabeth Warren or, my guess more likely, Hillary Clinton.

This is meatball journalism here with no effort at creativity.  Just compiling and sharing.

The call came from a Michigan number, for what that's worth.  Took notes as best I could; luckily they caught me at my desk at home. (Harder to take notes if they catch me in the car.)

They asked for me by name and the first question was whether I had a landline (no). Since I'm cell only and it wasn't a random digit dial, that tells me they're working from some sort of voter list, maybe or maybe not a caucus list.  I don't get many non-political telemarketing calls.

I was asked which party I would caucus for and how likely (Democratic, absolutely certain).  I worried that "Democratic" would be the wrong answer and I'd get screened out, but to my delight - yes, I'm weird - the call kept going.  Then got asked my top issue priority (foreign policy), then second (economy).

Then I got asked favorable/unfavorable on nine people: Obama, Biden, Webb, Sanders, Warren, Tom Vilsack, O'Malley, Bill and Hillary Clinton (separately and in that order). Was not asked about any Republican presidential possibilities, or any Iowa pols other than Vilsack.

Next I was asked my presidential choice between (can't remember order) Biden, Webb, Sanders, Warren, O'Malley and Hillary (but not Vilsack. Bill and Barack are of course ineligible, but without the 22nd Amendment Bill would probably STILL be president). I offered Warren, and when asked a second choice I thought for a moment and offered Sanders.  Not sure about that one now.

Making me think this was about Clinton: I was asked how likely I would be to caucus for her. I said "not very," though I did offer I would certainly support her as the nominee (One time I didn't do that.) I was also asked the first word to describe her and said "experience."  Pressed for a second, I went off on a brief version of my trademarked Hillary Hates Iowa rant. The caller listened politely, but I got no hint of broad political knowledge (she had to follow up when I answered "Senator" Warren instead of the script's "Elizabeth" Warren.)

That business done, I was given some biographical and issue messages about Warren - a badly read paragraph visiting the stations of the cross in her upbringing, talking about fighting big banks, and asking if all this made me more or less likely to support. I think I said more.

Next I was asked about status of Iowa economy - specifically "Iowa," not "your state" - and said "stagnant," and about my biggest personal economic stress (housing costs, as any renter in Iowa City can tell you).  I described myself as "working" class rather than "middle," but never got asked a specific income range.  Darn, having just done my taxes I was ready for it.

Now, I think finally getting to the point, I was asked about two messages. My notes say "determined fighter level the playing field," which I found preferable to "bringing people together." I also preferred "shake up Washington" to "bring stability to Washington and get things done."

I was asked some very leading things about Clinton's record as secretary of state ("standing up for human rights, women's rights," etc.) and rejected the premise: "That's easy.  My problem with her record is on other issues" (specifically the Middle East). Forced to code it by the caller, I said this made me no more likely to caucus for Clinton.

That's about all. Was asked my birth year, which seemed odd because if they had a voter list they should have had my birth date, but I offered it up anyway. Was asked if I belonged to "an association in my workplace."  That was the wording.  Maybe they don't even let you say the U Word in Michigan anymore, so I asked: "You mean a union?"  Caller had to scramble for a moment until she presumably found it on the script, then I bragged that yes I am a union member. Also got to tell her about my wife and kids. 

Interesting after the fact: there were no tests of negative messaging, no pushing. Would you be more or less likely to caucus for Hillary Clinton if you knew she murdered Vince Foster? What if I told you Elizabeth Warren was responsible for that godawful Nationwide dead kid ad? Also, even though I'd listed him as my second choice, no questions about Sanders.

So my guess is someone in Hillaryworld is message-testing and looking for the best way not to run against Warren - because as much as I wish it I don't expect it - but rather for the best way to co-opt Warren's message and rhetoric, to fend off a challenge from the left.

Anyone with similar or different tales, please chime in...

1 comment:

Mike Jesse said...

You should consider looking into an on-demand recording feature, either an existing one through your phone provider, or by bouncing your calls through a service that allows for that option. Generally these get used by folk who are looking to record for other reasons, acrimonious communications with an ex when discussing custody issues, etc, but, I'd imagine it's just as useful a tool, moving into a calling season, if you're genuinely interested in analyzing a call to this degree. Distribution of such a recording has it's own thorny issues, but for your own review, to look over after the fact, to gather thoughts that escaped first impression, could be useful.