NEWS21 March 2013

Utah to sign disclosure bill for political polling

Government North America

US — Utah State is creating a law that will require disclosure of a political poll’s sponsor – with potentially harmful knock-on effects for the research industry.

Despite campaigning by the research profession, the governor of Utah is to sign a law that will require almost any survey research regarding a declared political candidate or ballot proposition to disclose information about who sponsored the study to the respondent.

Although designed to combat so-called ‘push polls’, the research industry warned that the law would threaten real polling – potentially inserting bias into bona fide survey and opinion research results in Utah and tainting all research in the eyes of the public by equating polling with advertising.

“We find it especially disheartening to see Utah hurting the research profession in this way, and their own capacity for insights, at the same time as New Hampshire is finally trying to fix their own similar law,” lamented Howard Fienberg, director of government affairs for the Marketing Research Association (MRA).

The MRA and the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) organised a grassroots advocacy campaign among researchers in the state, discussed the legislation with the sponsor and most members of the legislature, and proposed several substitute amendments.

“It is unfortunate that some legislators confuse negative advocacy phone calls with legitimate scientific research. We urge the governor to veto this bill in the interest of legitimate research,” said AAPC chairman Whit Ayres.