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Political Telemarketing Abuse in Iowa: Why You Can’t Trust Political Poll Results Leading Up to the Straw Poll

I’ve been spending a little time with the family in Iowa and with the Iowa Straw Poll coming up, it’s time for the periodic reminder that things work a little bit differently in Iowa during the election cycle and you shouldn’t believe every poll you see bandied about in the media.

First off, you should take the Iowa Straw Poll with a grain of salt.  If you catch the wafting odor of a manure spreader when the Straw Poll pops up, there’s a reason.  The Straw Poll isn’t much more than a big ‘ole fundraiser for the Iowan Republican party.  About all it’s good for is seeing who’s willing to cough up some cash and give the candidates some face time with hard core Republicans.  MAYBE they can score a convert if a given delegate isn’t particularly committed to someone going in, and at least those attending the straw poll are practically guaranteed to show up for the Iowa Caucus, which actually counts for something.

The next thing you need to understand is what happens to Iowans in the election cycle.  Never mind having candidates popping up left and right (I’m still disappointed I haven’t seen Michelle Bachmann and Herman Cain in the same place so I can ask them to reconcile their statements that God told them they were going to be President.  Seems to me, at least one of them has to be exaggerating.)  The real annoying thing is the phone calls.  Maybe you get an approximation of this if you live in New Hampshire, but I doubt anywhere else.

In the last few weeks, it hasn’t been remotely unusual to get three political phone calls per day.  Frequently, it’s a poll.  Sometimes it’s a recorded message from a candidate.  It’s annoying as hell.  You check your voicemail and the telemarketing doesn’t distinguish it from a live person.  “Press one for Ron Paul, press two for Herman Cain,” etc, etc, etc.  A few days ago, Michelle Bachmann ate up the entire message time allotment, ranting about everything under the sun in what I gather was supposed to be some phone-based speech nobody in this household signed up for.

You don’t have “Press 5 to never be called again” on these polls.  After a few days of this, it starts to get really annoying.  Like when you hang up on 3 different automated survey calls with numbers originating from 3 different states in the course of 5 minutes.  I watched my mother slowly change colors as that happened.

And remember, this isn’t for the Caucus (which actually means something).  This is leading up to the BS-y Straw Poll.  With a first term president in office, that also means Iowans are only subjected to telemarketing abuse from a single political party.  During the last Caucus, with both parties’ nominations in play, it was infinitely worse than this.

What do you in situations like this?  You can hang up, you can press a random candidate number to screw with the results or you can hit the “other candidate” number and screw with everyone at once.

Don’t get too excited about Iowa poll numbers.  Overzealous politicians get on everyone’s nerves and you aren’t going to be getting honest and accurate results.  The only people taking them serious, especially with this being the Straw Poll, are the overzealous would-be politicians.

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