can contact more than a thousand people an hour, with the ultimate goal
of reaching sometimes hundreds of thousands of households.
With the new technology of computer-aided telephoning and target selection, push polling is very cost-effective. "A single operator can make 80
to 100 completed calls with a short message each evening hour at a cost
(depending on message length) of $0.45 to $1.30 per call," according to Sabato and Simpson.
35 Thus, 250,000 targeted calls can be made for
$112,000 to $325,000--a bargain in the eyes of most political professionals.
In the heat of battle, especially in a multicandidate field, presidential
candidates are forced to pull out all the stops to win. Push polls, in some
cases, have become effective campaign weapons. The American voting public, especially in nominating races, has seen only the opening chapter of
this aspect of shady politics.
James R. Beniger, "Polls and Primaries," in Presidential Primaries: Road to
the White House, ed.
James W. Davis, 2nd ed. ( Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1980), p. 120.
Gallup Opinion Index, no. 133 ( August 1976): 67.
Gallup Opinion Index, no. 173 ( December 1979).
New York Times, February 28, 1984.
New York Times, January 23, 1996.
Newsweek 127 ( March 4, 1996): 25.
Davis, Presidential Primaries: Road to the White House, p. 81.
James W. Beniger and
Robert J. Giuffra Jr., "Public Opinion Polling: Command and Control in Presidential Campaigns," in Presidential Selection, ed.
Michael Nelson ( Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1987), p. 198.
Charles W. Roll Jr., and
Albert H. Cantril, Polls: Their Use and Misuse in
Politics ( New York: Basic Books, 1972), p. 23, as quoted in ibid., pp. 28, 199.
Herbert E. Alexander and
Brian Haggerty, Financing the 1984 Election ( Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1987), p. 249.
Giuffra, "Public Opinion Polling," p. 206.
"How He Won: The Untold Story of Bill Clinton's Triumph," Newsweek,
Special Election Issue ( November-December 1992): 40-41.
Jack W. Germond and
Jules Witcover, Blue Smoke and Mirrors: How Reagan Won and Why Carter Lost the 1980 Election ( New York: Viking, 1981), p. 108.
New York Times, January 5, 1995.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 7, 1996.
Wall Street Journal, February 8, 1996.
New York Times, January 30, 1995.