Turns Out (So Called) “Push Poll” Was Paid for by Tovo Campaign

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In last week's epic thread comparing Randi Shade and Kathie Tovo's campaign contributions to Democrats, there was some concern expressed in the comments that someone was running a “Push Poll”. One of our longer time users wrote the following.

Shade is using dirty tactics running her run-off campaign

I've been getting streams of push-polls, almost two a night, from a company called TTO Research (or that's at least what the pollster had said). I know they're push-polls because as soon as I ask what kind of poll this is, the pollster was frazzled and only completed 2 questions: who I'm voting for and if I might change my mind, after I called him out. Plus, the number was blocked (000)000-0000, and when I was polled last time from the company, they were pushing me towards voting for Shade with “Would you change your mind if…” questions regarding Tovo. No legitimate polling company I've ever heard from runs their business like this. I'm sorry, but I won't vote for a candidate that uses push-polls. Period. Democrat or Republican, I don't think the tactic is a good one and it's borderline harassment. You can bet your ass I'll be voting against her in the election. I'm slightly concerned about Tovo, mainly on music issues in Austin, but I really want a change now.

and followed up with

I'm aware of what a push poll is, having been a campaign manager for several candidates, and I am also aware that some push pollsters attempt to mask their true goal by portraying their poll as a data gathering poll. The poll that I participated in was certainly a push poll, as it included leading questions that were certainly intended to push my vote away from Tovo. If the campaign is not a part of it, someone else certainly is, and I encourage you here to denounce the use of such electioneering. It degrades all of us that have worked on campaigns.

I agree that push polls shouldn't have a place in our campaign toolbox, though there is often confusion over what constitutes one. Another of our long time readers Colin, who is very familiar with the polling industry, commented at the time that TTO Research (disclaimer: The Tyson Organization for whom BOR founder Byron LaMasters works) was unlikely to have actually run a push poll due to company policy. I agree that professionally Tyson wouldn't do something like that as well as the simple fact that the phrase “push poll” gets abused. The polls in question that the commentor (no met) claims were push polls weren't push polls. Most polls worth their salt are going to test how respondents react to various messages- that's the whole point of message polling.

In any case, the recently released campaign finance reports are out and it would appear that the Randi Shade campaign telling the truth when it claimed it wasn't running any such poll.

In fact, the polls were payed for by the Kathie Tovo campaign. Here's the relevant page from their campaign finance report.

Good polls try to remove bias from their questioning, and part of that is wording a poll so that the respondent can't figure out who's interested in asking the questions. Clearly, TTO Research did a really good job at that. Maybe even too good a job.

Bottom line: It wasn't a push poll and it wasn't paid for by Randi Shade. So maybe instead of making accusations that Shade is a Republican, using Rovian tactics, and running push polls we could take a breather.

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About Author

Former Publisher & Owner of the Burnt Orange Report. Political Thinker, Digital Explorer, and Time Traveler.

36 Comments

  1. Please clarify

    The poll mentioned by “the long time user” was described as a push poll for Shade: “when I was polled last time from the company, they were pushing me towards voting for Shade.”

    Then you point to the fact that the Tovo campaign paid for polls and Shade didn't.

    From this you conclude that Tovo paid for a “push poll.”

    So in your rush to incriminate Tovo, you are arguing that Tovo paid for a push poll against herself. Really?

    And you overlooked the fact that Pacs could be paying for a poll or a push poll. So you have not eliminated the possibility that the push poll described in your post was paid for by someone campaigning for Shade even if not by Shade's campaign.  

      • In fact
        Maybe the Tovo campaign spent $10,000 on polls that they ran solely to make people think that they were run by the Shade campaign so people would complain about her going negative!

        I mean who knows what really happened!

        /cough

      • What does that mean

        Which is the more complicated explanation. That Tovo paid to run a push poll against herself or that you are wrong.

    • if you want to duke it out over pollsters …

      here's a nice juicy punch: Shade's C&E lists payments to Mike Baselice. He is on her payroll for a sweet $14,900.

      yeah – that's Governor Good Hair's very own tame pollster.

      I repeat: Shade paid Mike Baselice $14,900 on May 24 for “polling and research” for her campaign.

      here's what the Texas Tribune says about Baselice in its Tribpedia:

      Michael “Mike” Baselice is the president of Austin-based polling firm Baselice & Associates and described by the San Antonio Express-News as “perhaps the top Republican pollster in the state.”

      He specializes in polling for Republican candidates, but his clients also include issue advocacy groups and referendum projects.

      Over the last two decades, Baselice has conducted more 1,800 quantitative and qualitative research projects. One of his main clients is current Texas Governor Rick Perry.

      ………………..

      and, from the Baselice & Associates own website:

      In 1987, Michael produced the first ever ORVS (Optimal Republican Voting Strength) manual in the nation for the Republican Party of Texas. The ORVS was created so districts could be compared on an apples-to-apples basis for the purpose of candidate recruitment and later, resource allocation and helping party officials avoid allocating resources to districts that cannot be won.

      Randi, just give it up and admit it:  you're a Republican. I only mention this because K-T made such an epic issue out of Shade's nominal political affiliation in his previous post.

      • Baselice is probably the best pollster in Texas
        I not going to defend anyone's choice of pollster but just about any political professional on either side of the aisle would likely agree that Baselice does the best polling in the state. So if a Democrat wants to take the hit for paying them money for a poll, at least they can temper their souls knowing they are going to get their money's worth.  

        • wrong, on many levels.

          just as I refused to allow our fundraiser to seek, let alone accept, money from gary bradley when I chaired a county bond election committee, I would ab.so.lute.ly and never hire or choose to pay anyone whose ultimate goal is complete disenfranchisement of persons & issues that I fundamentally care about. it's not always a game, K-T.

  2. Mud is flying all around
    Sitting on my dining room counter are:

    1) An over-the-top hit piece by Mark Levy on Kathie Tovo,

    2) An almost-as-over-the-top hit piece by the Sierra Club on Randi Shade,

    3) A hit piece by the Tovo campaign on Shade that quotes the Sierra Club piece, and

    4) A letter from neighbors (paid for by the Tovo campaign) that actually has something favorable to say.

    The point is, this has become a free-for-all, with a lot of exaggerated and downright false accusations. Let's not add to the mix.  On the “push poll”, it's clear that Shade didn't commission it, so scratch that accusation off your list. Tovo did pay for it, maybe to gauge her own vulnerabilities (a sensible tactic, BTW). End of story.

    Let's stick to what each candidate has done or would do on the council, instead of wading through the gutter. I agree a lot more with Shade than Tovo on the issues, and I trust Shade's judgment better, so I'm voting for Shade. Other people agree more with Tovo and are voting for her. Fine! Just don't paint either one of them as a fire-breathing dragon, an agent from Mordor, or a Republican.  

    • Sound advice.

      I can't know what you saw, but the Sierra Club mailer I got quoted Shade's email to the City Manager and noted that she is the developer/lobbyist backed candidate which is true. Nothing over the top about that. Again, maybe you got something different.

      You can never know for sure what someone will do on the Council. I voted for Shade when she first ran. Because of what she did on the Council I am voting for Tovo. I am comforted in my decision by the fact that the developer's have so much confidence in her. I respect your and everyone else's right to disagree.

      I do appreciate the fact that you placed Republicans in the same class as fire-breathing dragons and Mordor. I checked the lobbyist filings and neither candidate is registered as an agent of Mordor, so you were absolutely correct.

  3. last try…with feeling
    jesus h. cristo.

    IT WAS NOT A PUSH POLL.

    If you think it was, you are either too impassioned (read: biased) or too stupid to understand.

    Now I loathe getting involved in ATX politics because an utter lack of perspective and observance of blatant facts permeates every discussion…but come on!!!

    1) if you don't understand what quotes around a few words mean, I'll refer you to Friends…ask Joey.

    2) the call was identified as legally required. The company in question would never, ever engage in a wholly unethical and immoral act as was purported to have occurred.

    3) No, I don't think Shade should have stayed in the runoff…but, Yes, I think she has a legit shot to win.

    4) Baselice is a great pollster, but I'd never hire him. I'm a Democrat. Who wants Rick Perry's sloppy seconds? Put your money where your mouth is.  Buy D.

    5) Any poll that doesn't examine HOW a constituency moves when presented with contrasting messages is a total waste. Send me the check and I'll pull a number out of my ass and it will be just as accurate.

    6) Settle the F down. The fact of the matter (apparent to the rest of the world) is that the City of Austin (under varied leadership) for the past 20 years has allowed growth upon growth upon growth.  At least a majority consistently fostered a ridiculous level of sprawl and growth that has nearly ruined one of the jewels of Texas.  Why is downtown making a resurgence?? BECAUSE IT TAKES 2 FUCKING HOURS TO COMMUTE TO WORK. Instead of making downtown/near downtown living a mission, current and prior councilmembers sanctioned sprawl on steroids.  And no amount of reverse engineering will erase the damage to the natural landscape and beauty that has drawn Texans to this city for 200 years. I hate to be the surly, old guy who breaks it to you…but neither candidate (from my perspective) has made a compelling case that they would do much more than the other to give us back Austin.  The mere fact that virtually no one bothers to vote in City Council races should be the biggest indicator that they are missing mark entirely. If you can't even do enough to piss people off in large numbers, you aren't even trying.

  4. Huh?
    You want us to believe Tovo paid for a push poll against herself by the 'proof' that Shade hasn't reported the push polls she paid for?

    If Burnt Orange is comprised of “Good Democrats” – let's take a look at what a “Good Dem” Shade is:  http://www.austinpost.org/cont

    • posts
      Just an FYI Deb, your one line diary was removed because it doesn't follow the previously laid out rules of this site.

      3) Substantive posts only: No one line posts or cut and paste press releases. // Journals violating these rules may be deleted without notice.

    • Go back and read the post and discussion with Centex.
      If after doing so you still believe that K-T is trying to say “Tovo paid for a push poll against herself,” just remember that it will all be moot on Sunday.

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