Federal Election Commission asked to intervene on NH push poll law
US— Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research (GQRR) is seeking another route round New Hampshire’s problematic push polling law – it has asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to intervene.
The pollster is asking for an advisory opinion that says federal law supersedes the New Hampshire statute when it comes to carrying out telephone surveys for federal election candidates.
Specifically, GQRR’s lawyers argue that: “Only federal law could limit the ability of a federal candidate to pay for a poll deemed to be a ‘push poll’ under New Hampshire law without the required state-prescribed disclaimer.”
New Hampshire’s law sought to tackle push polling – a campaign smear tactic that masquerades as survey research – by requiring anyone who engages in the practice to reveal the name of their sponsor. However, its definition of push polling is written so broadly as to put legitimate survey firms at risk of fines.
Genuine pollsters won’t disclose their sponsors for fear of biasing the survey results, but they might ask questions about a candidate’s “character, status, or political stance or record” – all of which fits New Hampshire’s definition of a push poll.
The Marketing Research Association recently secured the support of Representative David Bates in its efforts to have the law amended, but GQRR is hoping for a decision from the FEC before the end of April that could at least protect companies polling for federal elections from prosecution.