November 6, 2006


New Telemarketing Ploy Steers Voters on Republican Path: A group pushing to win votes for Republicans describes its system as the most ambitious political use ever of
automated calling. (CHRISTOPHER DREW, 11/06/06, NY Times)

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.

A party that has to keep its positions hidden from the public is in a fair bit of trouble.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 6, 2006 8:46 AM

But people like me will hang up the phone as soon as they find out the spearker on the other side is a machine.

Posted by: ic at November 6, 2006 12:23 PM

Pollees are self-selected. Since most of us check the caller ID before picking up and wouldn't pick up for a poll, only those willing to say what the poll workers want to hear will answer.

Posted by: erp at November 6, 2006 7:57 PM

It does seem as if this group has invented the 21st Century telemarketing equivalent of the digital buggy whip, given how many people today either have caller ID or primarily use their cell phones (I'm sure by the 2008 cycle, some of these folks will have moved on to believing that e-mail, text messaging or even uploading political podcasts of this stuff to voters will be the next hot political marketing tool, but I think whichever party takes the biggest plunge into the plan is in for a rude surprise).

Posted by: John at November 7, 2006 7:15 AM