Longtime Barbwire victims know that I’ve often advised people to lie when a pollster calls. It’s a way to keep campaigns responsive rather than making all their decisions via Madison Avenue marketing research techniques.
Years ago, one of my idols, the late-great Chicago columnist Mike Royko, rocked the stodgy political establishment and the fake news media to their collective foundations.
A few days before a major election, Royko advised his millions of readers to lie when pollsters call. He expressed righteous rage over the volume of contacts and the bloodless campaigning dictated by the results.
Not long ago when I mentioned Royko’s infamous coup, one of my esteemed fake news colleagues noted that the great writer’s advice had no noticeable effect. Oh, really? I’m still talking about it three or four decades later.
Which brings me to last Sunday night. First of all, unless your call is expected or there’s an emergency, it’s un-Christian, impolite and impolitic to call anyone after 9:00 p.m. I knew it was a boiler room when I saw the caller i.d. but I answered anyway.
“Good evening, sir. I would like to speak to any female member of the household.”
“I’m female. I’ve just got a badly sore throat.” She was apparently not convinced because she addressed me as “sir” throughout the call.
She asked the usual questions: Was I registered, did I intend to vote, was I or any member of the household involved in any campaigns or the media? Yes, yes, no, no. And I’m a 47 year-old Hispanic female, as usual.
My consistent goal is to hear as many questions as possible to read the mind of the campaign of the person paying for it. It was the second Republican modified push-poll I’ve recently received. A push poll is a perversion of marketing research designed to make you think it’s legit but is really trying to disseminate negative information against an opponent.
Based on the questions, this poll was most probably paid for by Republican Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign. The lady was reading a script and not very good at it.
When we got to detailed questions, she told me to be patient because she was going to type up my answers. And I actually heard a typewriter going. Wow. Analog meets digital.
As usual, the closest I got to admitting the truth was that I was perhaps leaning toward one candidate versus another. But when push came to shove, I always answered “undecided” or “none of the above.” (See the return of NAGPAC, Barbwire 6-20-2018.)
Against my own advice, I then made two major mistakes. I stopped lying.
The lady in question asked about the most recent thing I had seen about Heller’s opponent, Rep. Jackie Rosen, D-Gomorrah South. I told her I had just seen a commercial featuring Congressmember Rosen’s photo side-by-side with actress Jane Fonda’s infamous Hanoi anti-aircraft gun photo. I noted that the Fonda photo was snapped probably before the pollster or Rosen were born. I heard her typing loudly. (Could it have been an affectation to make people think their opinions count? If so, why not put keyboard clicks into the sound effects?)
She asked about the latest thing I had seen about Sen. Heller.
“I saw him eating sheep balls.”
“Are you still there?”
“Yes.” More silence.
I said I saw him eating sheep balls at Adam Laxalt’s cookout last Saturday. Silence.
“Sheep testicles,” I diplomatically and clinically added, then spelled the word.
Typing. Silence. Dead air.
When a poll is terminated early, it usually means all the data you’ve contributed is trashed. C’est la guerre.
Moral of the story: You’ll learn more about candidates and the status of their races if you will just exhibit the cojones to never tell a pollster the truth.
Politics isn’t the confessional. And it damn sure ain’t bean bag.
THANKS AND KUDOS to ace Trib reporter Kayla Anderson and photo guru John Byrne for making me appear better than I am in last week’s Barbwire 30th anniversary article.
I always call to mind a story that basketball great Bill Russell told about his legendary Boston Celtics Coach Red Auerbach.
Not long after Russell was drafted, he told Auerbach “I’m black and you’re a Jew. How do you expect to make it in this town?”
“I’ll outlive them all,” the coach said.
C’est la guerre.
Be well. Raise hell. Esté bien. Haga infierno.
Andrew Barbano is a 49-year Nevadan and editor of NevadaLabor.com. E-mail <email@example.com>. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Tribune since 1988.