Tuesday, April 28, 2015

OMG, I Got Polled!

A new experience: as someone who writes about politics for a living, I've always wondered who exactly is taking and answering pollsters calls. Now I know.

OMG, I Got Polled!

It was 6:34 p.m. Monday and my cell phone showed an incoming call from the 203 area code (Connecticut) but only with a number, not a name.

Immediately I thought maybe Yale is calling to offer a guest lecture fee or an adjunct position or ask for a donation or a reference for an applicant. In retrospect, none of these make sense since I've never been paid to lecture at an Ivy League school or offered an adjunct position anywhere and, more importantly, did not go to Yale (and hold the wise cracks about, `yeah, no kidding').

Anyway, a friendly male voice informed me that my cell phone number was randomly selected by some computer and I was asked to answer some questions for a Quinnipiac University poll.

AT LAST!

As someone who writes about politics for a living, I've always wondered just who answers pollsters calls and questions. Now I know. For the first time in my life, I was joining the ranks of the nameless, faceless folks who help decide the fate of our state and nation by contributing to one of the most powerful driving forces in politics, the independent poll.

I was asked if I was over 18, a Pennsylvania resident and a registered voter.

I passed what pollsters call "the screen" because I am all three.

Next I was asked about the 2014 Pennsylvania governor's race and my opinion of four Democrats who might run against Gov. Corbett: Mike Stack, Joe Sestak, Ed Pawlowski and Tom Wolf. None were described in any way nor with any titles.

Then I was asked about the 2016 presidential race and my opinion about possible candidates: Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo. Same deal: no descriptions or titles.

Next I was asked if I approved of the job performance of Gov. Corbett, President Obama, Sen. Toomey, Sen. Casey and the state Legislature. (I think you know how I answered that last one; I think you'd be surprised by my other answers.)

There were questions about the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid expansion, whether I voted in 2010 and 2012 (I did), how am registered (Independent), whether I ever use a landline phone (I do) and then a string of questions about marital status, household income, age, race, religion and education level.

The questioner -- I assume a Quinnipiac student -- was quick and professional. The whole thing was over in eight minutes.

I asked why only some potential candidates for governor and president were polled, and he explained each call rotates different names, presumably to save time.

All in all it was a fun experience. And, listen, Quinnipiac is in Hamden, a suburb of New Haven, home of Yale, so always answer a call from the 203 area code. You might be offered an adjunct professorship. Or the chance to get polled.

Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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