On Sunday evening I received an interesting survey call from Promark Research in Texas. The poll asked for whom I would vote for President and Senate. There were no questions about the Congressional races. The survey asked how credible I find several organizations, among them BIPAC, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. There were some other statements about the U.S. Chamber that made me believe the poll was commissioned by them (or perhaps by BIPAC), but I am not sure and the interviewer said he did not know. Then the survey posed easily two dozen statements about Allen and Kaine, almost all of them focused on Kaine and most of them incorporating serious distortions or false assumptions.
For each statement, I was to say whether the statement made me more or less likely to vote for the candidate in question. The intensity of my reaction was then gauged as “somewhat” or “strongly” more or less likely to vote. The issues were predictable: the Keystone pipeline (Kaine’s opposition being “job-killing,” Allen’s support being all about jobs and lower energy prices), Kaine’s opposition to more drilling offshore (same themes), Kaine as a regulation-crazy job-killer who was strangling the American Way, Allen as the preserver of American economic liberty and supporter of the job creators, etc. I did tell the interviewer that when I hear the phrase “job creators” I want to throw up. He said he wrote that down and asked me if he should use an exclamation point. I said no (I was calm).
There was an item about whether I supported the EPA’s job-killing regulations (yes, strongly) and several items about Kaine’s support for the Affordable Care Act, with the angles being job-killing, over-regulation, and raising taxes on Americans. For the last issue, they mentioned specific figures for single people (I think that was something like $1,000 annually) and families (I think they said something like $2,000+ annually). I think they also said there was some giant aggregate tax increase in the Act. I pointed out that the question made it sound like these amounts would apply to everyone when in fact they would apply only to free rider and that this was a conservative Republican idea to begin with, etc.
There was one item about the failed transportation deal while Kaine was governor, claiming Kaine “supported” raising taxes in NoVa and raising fees on everyone (I pointed out that this was legislation that came out of the General Assembly and at least Kaine was trying to do something about the transportation crisis, working within the narrow confines imposed by the no-tax zealots in the House). There was an item about Kaine supporting regulations in Virginia that raised energy prices (of course, nothing about taxpayer subsidies to utilities, privatizing profits and socializing risk, etc.) There was nothing about Kaine’s role as DNC chair. Other than the ACA, there was nothing that I recall that tried to tie Kaine to President Obama. There was nothing about Allen’s days as governor and no specific references to his Senate term.
After all that, I was asked again about my impressions of Kaine. They also asked again about my impressions of the credibility of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (very low!). The demographics were pretty standard. They included questions about how many days per week I watched Fox News (0!), and how many days per week I watched CNN (0! How the once-mighty have fallen. Entertainment Tonight has more incisive and relevant reporting these days.). But they did not ask about watching MSNBC (surprise!).
There were two really odd questions in the survey. One asked if I thought that judges in Virginia should have the ability to make summary judgments about cases, thereby avoiding trials. The explanation was that Virginia is the only state that does not allow this. The other odd question was included in the demographics. It asked if I felt that my employer provided too much communication to me, about the right amount, or not enough communication. Communication about what topics? The questionnaire and the interviewer did not address that issue. It was wide open. Very odd. I suppose it presages a strategy to get employers to communicate about partisan politics to employees.
I am a Democrat in a heavily Republican county. I wonder if I got this call because I have a couple of “R” primary votes on my record and I might look like an undecided or persuadable voter. In 2000 I voted for McCain in a desperate attempt to stop Bush, whose free pass to the status of front-runner terrified me even then because it meant he had a very capable machine behind him to offset his shocking ignorance and stunning disdain for pretty much everything in the world except the vague impulses emanating from his enteric nervous system (by then it was clear that Kerry would be the Democratic nominee). A few years ago I voted in a Republican primary for a local constitutional office because the winner would run uncontested in the fall – the primary was, essentially, the election.
Good luck to all of our Democratic candidates this fall.