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The Perils of Political Polls
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One evening last week right at dinnertime the phone rang and a voice asked if I wanted to participate in a political survey. Ever one to do my civic duty – although I don’t actually think polls fall into that category – I agreed, not realizing that the poll had apparently been funded by the dark side and that it would drag on for about 20 minutes.

One section contained a series of questions about the behavior of a Democratic candidate for a local office and were in this vein: “If you knew that Ms. Smith had cheated on her taxes, lied on an employment application, kicked small animals with large dewy eyes, should have been wearing a big scarlet A (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), and only flossed the day before she went to the dentist, would that make you more or less likely to vote for her or have no effect on your vote?”

The questions became increasingly silly, until they got to one in which it was mentioned that Ms. Smith had at one point discussed the possibility of dropping out of the race due to the scrutiny of the press, the stress of holding the office, and her general disgust with the political machine in this area. At which point I had to stop the questioner, hold my hand over the phone, and scream. Once I was re-composed I calmly explained that such an admission would OF COURSE make me more likely to vote for her because that shows an uncharacteristic honesty that I do not usually associate with anyone running for anything. At which point the questioner stopped *me* and shouted with glee that I was the first person that day to make that choice and she was so glad that someone finally showed some sense. We had a lengthy conversation about the smarmy nature of the questions and the revoltingly slimy candidate who had commissioned it. This probably invalidated the entire poll, but it was quite fun and unexpected. And, as a result, I will vote for Ms. Smith, whom I had not heard of before this poll – 1 vote for Ms. Smith, 0 for the idiot who paid for the poll.

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