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What are "Push Polls" & How Can You ID Them?

A so-called "push poll" is not a real poll, but is a way of putting out negative (or, less frequently, positive), not necessarily true information about a candidate under the guise of polling. Per Poynter, here's how you can identify one:

  • Often ask only one or very few questions, all about a single candidate or a single issue

  • Usually ask questions that are strongly negative (or sometimes uniformly positive) describing the candidate or the issue

  • May not name the organization conducting the calls, or sometimes use a phony name

  • Do not ask for demographic information

  • Can give evasive answers when you ask for information about the survey

  • Usually calls very large numbers of people, sometimes many thousands

  • Does not use a random sample

  • Rarely, if ever, report results

What isn't a push poll?

Message testing is often confused with a push poll, but it's legitimate polling done to gauge overall favorability or approval of a candidate's position on specific issues. Here's how you can distinguish message testing from a push poll:

  • Identifies the name of the pollster

  • Appropriate sample size (~500 to no more than 1500)

  • Contains other questions, incIuding demographic identification

  • Questions are based on true, verifiable information about a person or organization's record

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