I got a polling call on my cell phone this afternoon, a robo call from a Washington D.C. number and a voice that self-identified the poll as coming from The Alabama Farmer's Federation.
It was a "push-poll", at least parts of it were. That's when the purpose of a poll isn't to sample public opinion, but to sway public opinion by planting negative thoughts about issues the sponsor opposes, and positives about issues they support.
The very first question: would I vote to re-elect Barack Obama---an election that's three years away, but mentioning his name could serve to set the tone for the questions that follow.* Would I support re-electing Troy King as Attorney General? Jim Folsom as Lt. Gov.?
I have to presume ALFA opposes Republican King, since although they didn't use party identifications, they decided to plant his name squarely between Democrats Obama and Folsom. I'm surprised they didn't throw in Nancy Pelosi for good measure!
Then came the issue questions, which were subtly slanted to elicit a certain response.
For example, one had an anti-Constitutional-reform slant, asking if I would favor rewriting the entire Alabama Constitution by people who happened to have the free time to go to Montogmery.
Another question asked about the "Family Farm Protection Act" to block people from moving next to a farm and then filing suit against the farm because of smells. (I'm not positive about the use of the word "smells"...I'm going by memory only here, but that's the main issue in property-rights suits against so-called factory farms.)
And of course there were more direct insurance-related questions...would I be willing to pay a one-time $100 assessment to pay to repair damage from a Katrina like storm...and would I be willing to pay higher insurance rates to make insurance more affordable for people who own homes on the coast.
As I mentioned, this call came on my cell phone. And that was surprising.
Actual (non-push) pollsters have been trying to deal with the growth of cell-phones in recent years because so many people are eliminating landlines. Since the phone owner pays for the minutes, they can have trouble getting cooperative people to poll. As for me, I'm almost always up for a poll, since it provides information about what people are researching. ALFA, for example, opposes Constitutional reform because it would almost surely result in higher property taxes. We have the lowest in America right now, and they want to keep it that way.
* The most recent poll I've seen shows about the same majority of Alabamians opposed to the President as voted for John McCain...59%. His favorable rating here hasn't changed at all, but neither has his unfavorable rating.