Thursday, July 10, 2008

Is this a push poll?

A push poll is a technique designed to gather the responses you want, or to persuade the 'participant' to think a certain way: a classic example was conducted a number of years ago by a certain tabloid newspaper. The question "in the light of the recent abductions of XXXXX do you think that paedophiles should be given mandatory life sentences", there are worse in politics. Some US push polls try to sell the idea that Barack Obama is in some way linked to Osama bin Laden, clearly thinking some Americans are stupid enough to take four out of five characters and the rhyming nature of the names as a link. Those examples aside that is the idea, so is this a push poll?

I argue it is, not because the question itself is loaded, and it does present the Conservative and Labour case, but this poll loaded onto the Conservative's Bebo profile, contains images that lead the reader to a conclusion. Given that many Bebo users are the young people we may expect (I stress may) to not have much political interest or knowledge, offering the message 'Do we want five more years of this' alongside the 'partly to blame' option suggests steering the reader towards the Conservative line. Currently it isn't working which perhaps indicates something about the Bebo users that engage with politics. Common sense suggests it is not solely Brown's mess but that he did not help the situation, I suggest that is a reasonably informed response and that is the majority albeit a narrow one. Is this practice ethical? Any views?

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