What's behind those pesky campaign phone surveys - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

What's behind those pesky campaign phone surveys

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The responses you give to a political polling call could impact the way candidates run their campaigns.

"The last 10 days you're going to start tracking every single night," explained Dan Davis. "And that's what annoys a lot of people but every single night you're going to be looking at a tracking poll. And you're going to decide, is this moving the voter is this not moving the voter?"

There's a method to the madness behind those pesky phone calls before election day. Dan Davis' company Southern Research Group has conducted surveys during more than 200 campaigns through the years.

"We test both positive and negative messages in a poll," Davis explained. "We try to make sure that what we're doing we test whether something is positive or negative against us and against our opponent."

Something Davis refuses to do is known as push polling.

"I don't consider push polling to be polling," he said. "It is a way to get out. it's just like direct mail or anything else. It's a way to get a negative message out on your opponent and that's all it is."

The calls are targeted no matter the type of survey. In this case, they only make it to likely Republican primary voters.

"There's a tremendous amount of polling going on that no one ever sees," described Davis. "As a matter of fact, most of our polling no one ever sees."

Some of the companies are more public with results. Those have varied through the course of this election. This Chism Strategy poll shows Thad Cochran up by one point. Meanwhile, others show McDaniel up by as much as 12 points. The questions and methods vary, but the impact remains the same.

"I never accept a candidate that doesn't understand the importance of polling," said Davis. "Because sooner or later, I'll show them the importance of polling."

Davis reminds people to always look at the origin of the poll. Some are commissioned by the campaigns directly or have slanted questions to get the results they want.

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