Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Malicious Polling Alert

Attention Concerned Citizens

Malicious Polling Alert

In recent days, many of our friends have received calls from a Florida company that is conducting a survey that we consider to be biased and malicious.

The calls originate from 1-800-251-5850.  The “survey” is purportedly about affordable housing but asks many leading questions prompting respondents to define the ideal community as one with high density affordable housing proximate to transit, and to associate opposition to that ideal as coming from NIMBY’s and worse who don’t want neighbors who look different than themselves and increase crime.

The “poll” also asks about political leanings, income, and views of various organizations, and more unusually even asks for your full name.  Many people report having been hung up on when they asked who was sponsoring the survey, gave the “wrong” answer, or in any way questioned the interviewer.  The 800 number traces to a dubious firm that advertises “advocacy” polling as one of its services. These tactics are commonly referred to as a “push poll” used to convince people to embrace the views of its anonymous sponsor.

This survey clearly has an agenda, which we think is (1) To collect data to show that a “majority” in Marin supports building more housing and to marginalize those opposed to that agenda; and (2) to collect information about how better to market a pro-growth agenda in Marin. 

It also appears that this is not a legitimate poll gathering responses from a random sample, but rather a fishing expedition to gather information about the make-up of anti-density movement individuals.

A surprisingly large number of residents who have been opposed high density developments have been contacted. If this were a bona fide random sampling of Marin residents, the odds of that happening would be miniscule unless this was a very large survey costing many tens of thousands of dollars.

For these reasons we suggest using your judgment as to whether to participate in the survey if you are called, and to point out questions you feel are biased or leading, and ask about how the information will be used.   If you do choose to participate, we encourage you take notes on the questions you are asked (and your answers), and email your notes and comments to us for the record at

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