New Jersey Democrats Accused of Using Unethical Campaigning, ‘Gutter’ Tactics

Voters report ‘push poll’ designed to depress GOP turnout

Sen. Cory Booker / AP

New Jersey Democrats are facing a backlash over what some say was an unethical polling tactic that included bashing Republicans they face in the upcoming November election.

Several people in Monmouth County, N.J. reported getting the calls, as first reported by MonmouthMusings.com, a local website. The call indicated it was a random opinion poll, and voters were then asked who they were voting for in the election.

If residents indicated they were voting for a Republican, negative information was then given about that candidate.

Those who received the calls told the Free Beacon it was clearly a push poll.

"A ‘Push Poll’ is a telemarketing technique in which telephone calls are used to canvass vast numbers of potential voters, feeding them false and damaging ‘information’ about a candidate under the guise of taking a poll to see how this ‘information’ effects voter preferences," the National Council on Public Polls indicated on its website. "The intent is to ‘push’ the voters away from one candidate and toward the opposing candidate. This is clearly political telemarketing, using innuendo and, in many cases, clearly false information to influence voters."

The poll also asked voters whom they would vote for in the Senate race between Jeff Bell and Cory Booker. One person said the call gave misleading facts on Bell’s stance on abortion.

"I got a call yesterday, I had no idea Jeff Bell was the architect of the ‘Tea Party Strategy’ or that he hated woman and minorities or that he was going to end Medicare," one commenter at MonmouthMusings wrote. "I’m so glad that the poll wanted to know if I was black or Hispanic, I selected other. These next few weeks should be interesting."

The Democratic Party in Monmouth County admitted they hired a company to conduct the poll, but denied giving any misleading facts on Bell.

Monmouth County Democratic Chair Vin Gopal said in an email to the Free Beacon that no follow up questions were asked regarding Booker or Bell.

"We didn't ask any federal questions except who would you vote for in the race for U.S. Senate, Democrat Cory Booker or Republican Jeff Bell—no follow-ups or anything else after that, and nothing else was asked regarding any federal issue or federal candidate," Gopal said.

Follow-up questions were asked on other candidates running locally in Monmouth County and also included negative information on those Republicans. "The other questions all involved in reported local county issues (each issue tested was linked by the APP story)" Gopal said, referring to a piece published in the Asbury Park Press.

The Monmouth County GOP took to twitter to blast the County Democrats, saying "Nasty, false attacks and gutter tactics have NO PLACE in #MonmouthCounty politics."

Len Rapoport, publisher of Hazletnews.com, president of the International Press Association, and publisher of IM Press Magazine said it was a clearly a push poll.

"When I first got it, I knew it was from a political party," he said. He recalled a question asking if planned to vote for Booker or Bell. He responded Booker, and said there were no follow-up questions or comments.

Thomas Stokes of Middletown, NJ, also received a call, and said while it indicated it was a "random survey, there was no way it was a survey. It was a push poll definitely." Stokes also remembered a question on Bell and Booker, but he did not recall any follow-ups.

According to Stokes, it was "really an attack on the county level. They were really going against county Republicans." Stokes believes the calls were "possibly an attempt to split the Republican vote or an attempt to suppress the Republican turnout."

If that is true, Stokes said "it would help Booker."

The Free Beacon asked Gopal to provide us with the questions asked in the calls.

Gopal declined.

"I am not comfortable sharing the questions polled because all that does is help the Monmouth Republicans to see our questions word for word. If county Republicans recorded the poll left on their voicemail and want to release the questions that's their decision," he said.

"There were no questions asked about abortion or any federal issues. The county Republicans are making things up and lying, just to confuse voters," said Gopal. "Polling is legitimate and it is something that is done at the local, county, state and federal levels. Colleges and universities do polling, people get college degrees in polling and both Republicans and Democrats do polling. Governor Christie does polling and so do House Republicans. There is nothing newsworthy about someone doing polling."

Monmouth County GOP did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

The company hired by the Monmouth County Democrats is Clarity Campaign Labs, which has worked for Obama for America and numerous other Democratic senators and governors. The company’s website states it provides "fully integrated analytic solutions to Democratic campaigns, progressive non-profits, and socially responsible corporations."