A TPM Reader writes in about Common Sense Issues' calls
I got a call from Huck's "independent" push pollers [Friday night]. It was a robo-call with a script that was micro-targeted for my Democratic union household. The robo-voice, which asked "poll" questions and left me time to answer, was an African-American male voice. Wanted to know if I was aware that "there is no real choice in the Michigan Democratic primary this year" and encouraged me to vote in the Repub primary instead.
Also asked if I was aware that the Machinists Union had endorsed Huckabee "for the first time in history..." (I assume by tonite they will add the Painters, too.) And if I knew that Huckabee was a fighter for working families, etc.
At the end, the robo-voice said the poll "was not affiliated with or authorized by any candidate or committee," but all the "questions" were designed to communicate positive information about the Huckster.
It's a classic ploy for these types of calls to play on ethnic and racial stereotypes -- though in this instance, the pollsters seem to have chosen their voice with the idea that a typically African-American male voice would appeal
to Democrats. (When I asked Common Sense Issues' executive director Patrick Davis* whether it was accurate to characterize the voice in these calls as "an African-American male voice," he said "it could be.") Former dirty trickster Allen Raymond writes in his book How to Rig An Election
that he had an array of actors available to portray a range of stereotypes, including "angry black man,"
which was deployed to frighten middle-class whites.
Unfortunately for the group, one of the Michiganians to get one of the group's two million calls
in the state (most of which are going to Republicans) was Mitt Romney supporter Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI). He told
that it was "an attack call masquerading as a poll."
Hoekstra also said that there was no disclaimer at the end of the call identifying the group behind the call. Davis says that the calls always have such a disclaimer, which is required by law. So please: TPM readers, if you get one of these calls, let us know what you hear. And if you're lucky enough to get one on your answering machine, we'd love to hear it.
*Update/Correction: This post originally referred to the group's executive director as Rick Davis. His name is Patrick.