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Stanford Conducts Push-Poll about Project

Original post made by curious, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park, on Aug 11, 2013

A friend tells me that a pollster phoned to tout how wonderful an educational and research institution Stanford is, and to ask for opinions about aspects of their proposed development project.

Could the Almanac uncover the questions asked?

Is the poll uncovering resistance and does it explain why Stanford may be offering some money to buy some support?

Comments (3)

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Posted by WhoRUpeople
a resident of another community
on Aug 12, 2013 at 8:54 am

I don't know if Stanford is conducting a survey or not, but I, too, am "curious"--why is it called a survey when residents want to provide input and ask for outreach, but its called a "push-poll" when a project's applicant initiates community outreach via a survey?

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Posted by curious
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 12, 2013 at 9:31 am

Wikipedia answer:
"A push poll is an interactive marketing technique, most commonly employed during political campaigning, in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll.
In a push poll, large numbers of respondents are contacted, and little or no effort is made to collect and analyze response data. Instead, the push poll is a form of telemarketing-based propaganda and rumor mongering, masquerading as a poll. Push polls may rely on innuendo or knowledge gleaned from opposition research on an opponent. They are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning.[1] This tactic is commonly considered to undermine the democratic process as false or misleading information is provided about candidates.
The term is also commonly used in a broader sense to refer to legitimate polls that aim to test political messages, some of which may be negative. Future usage of the term will determine whether the strict or broad definition becomes the most favored definition. However, in all such polls, the pollster asks leading questions or suggestive questions that "push" the interviewee towards adopting an unfavourable response towards the political candidate.
In Northern Territory (Australia) legislation, push-polling is defined as any activity conducted as part of a telephone call made, or a meeting held, during the election period for an election, that: (a) is, or appears to be, a survey (for example, a telephone opinion call or telemarketing call); and (b) is intended to influence an elector in deciding his or her vote.[2]
Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants[3] and the American Association for Public Opinion Research.[4]"

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Posted by Hail Stanford Hail
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 12, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Remember when random telemarketing was outlawed? Suddenly, every unwanted caller identified him/herself as working for a marketing research organization. But the callers were still trying to sell something.

So it is with Stanford. When they want to get your input, they email a survey. When they want to shape their messaging, they conduct a push poll. Much more expensive than just running a garden variety survey, but the payoff is perceived as significant enough to merit the extra expense.

Push polling will use misinformation if needed. For example, the Bohannon push poll asked if voters would be more inclined to support the project if they knew that it would help fund public schools. What they didn't say was that the public schools were in Redwood City. Their use of misleading language established a connection between Bohannon Project and school support.

Stanford must feel that the project won't get popular support on its own merits. Other than ripping out a lot of weeds, which they should have done years ago, the benefits to residents of this project are mostly negative. So they have to hammer on other attributes that have nothing to do with the project itself. "Don't you love our mall!"

As an MBA student at Stanford, I took a required course in corporate ethics. Stanford would fail its own course.

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