TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path

New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path

Monty Solomon (
Tue, 7 Nov 2006 02:13:50 -0500

The New York Times
November 6, 2006

An automated voice at the other end of the telephone line asks
whether you believe that judges who "push homosexual marriage and
create new rights like abortion and sodomy" should be controlled. If
your reply is "yes," the voice lets you know that the Democratic
candidate in the Senate race in Montana, Jon Tester, is not your man.

In Maryland, a similar question-and-answer sequence suggests that only
the Republican Senate candidate would keep the words "under God" in
the Pledge of Allegiance. In Tennessee, another paints the Democrat as
wanting to give foreign terrorists "the same legal rights and
privileges" as Americans.

Using a telemarketing tactic that is best known for steering consumers
to buy products, the organizers of the political telephone calls say
they have reached hundreds of thousands of homes in five states over
the last several weeks in a push to win votes for
Republicans. Democrats say the calls present a distorted picture.

The Ohio-based conservatives behind the new campaign, who include
current and former Procter & Gamble managers, say the automated system
can reach vast numbers of people at a fraction of the cost of
traditional volunteer phone banks and is the most ambitious political
use of the telemarketing technology ever undertaken.

But critics say the automated calls are a twist on push polls -- a
campaign tactic that is often criticized as deceptive because it
involves calling potential voters under the guise of measuring public
opinion, while the real intent is to change opinions with questions
that push people in one direction or the other.

The calls have set off a furor in the closing days of a campaign in
which control of Congress hinges on a handful of races.

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