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Gallegos Poll Accusations Way Off Base

Rocky Drill, MY WORD for the Times-Standard
April 7, 2006

Get Involved Today!In a recent Times-Standard article by James Faulk (March 27), Jerry Partain (local conservative opinion maker) and Dave Parris (Worth Dikeman's campaign manager) both accused Paul Gallegos' campaign of conducting a negative telephone poll called a "push poll" that is used to sway public opinion. They also accused the Gallegos campaign of belittling Rob Arkley's name in the telephone poll and of being disingenuous because they hired an out-of-town firm to conduct the poll. Wrong on all counts! Let's get the facts straight.

1) James Faulk of the T-S first interviewed Alison Sterling Nichols (Paul Gallegos' campaign manager). He asked a lot of questions about the poll and got a lot of answers but there were no questions about whether the poll was a "push poll."

2) James Faulk then interviewed Jerry Partain and Dave Parris concerning the same poll. Both of them suggested this was a "push poll" but they gave no reasons to support their assertion.

3) James Faulk did not talk to Alison Sterling Nichols again and ask her to respond to these unsupported accusations of "push polling." If he had he would have learned that the Gallegos poll was not a "push poll." "Push polls" call thousands of people and each telephone conversation is only about 1 minute long. Compare this to the Gallegos poll where only 300 people were interviewed and the average telephone polling time was 18-20 minutes. A "push poll" mostly focuses on only one person and happens so fast you don't have time to think. The Gallegos campaign's poll was about as long as any poll ever gets and asked questions on many topics.

4) Dave Parris also suggested that using a local person's name in the poll (e.g. Rob Arkley) without their permission is problematic. That's garbage! Rob Arkley and other prominent conservatives (e.g. Jerry Partain) are major opinion makers in the county. As public figures they should expect that their names will be used in public discussions. The intent of the Gallegos campaign's poll was to gauge other people's opinions, not to create those opinions. Questions were asked about Gallegos and other politicians and prominent citizens in Humboldt County. If a poll, for example, asked the public what they thought about product A, I would expect the pollster to also ask for their opinions of competing products B and C. Whether polling about a product, an issue, or a politician, why not get as much information as possible?

5) Jerry Partain suggested that the Gallegos campaign hired an out-of-the-area company to conduct their poll. Wrong again! They hired Julie Francis, a local pollster who runs Bellavia Research. Since her company is small, she does not have an in-house call center (a centralized location with many phones and the trained pollsters to use those phones) so she contracted with a call center in the Bay Area. Actually, it is important that the call center not be located in the area that is being surveyed because the poll needs to be as unbiased as possible to be accurate. If the call center was staffed with local people, a caller might know someone who they're calling or might be involved in the local politics they are asking questions about and could influence their responses.

6) Jerry Partain also tried to connect the Gallegos' campaign to Measure T, but in a negative manner. He suggested that the Gallegos campaign is backing Measure T at the polls but is not living up to its intent, since it is sending money out of the area to hire a non-local corporation (the pollster that is actually local) for political purposes. Wrong again! The purpose of Measure T is just the exact opposite. Measure T wants to stop non-local corporations from sending money into Humboldt County for political purposes, not out of the county.

It's too bad that in politics it doesn't matter if what you say is true or not, only that you say it. It isn't illegal to accuse someone of something even if it's just an opinion that can't be backed up with proof. People will remember the accusation, not the reasons for the accusation. That's what Jerry Partain and Dave Parris are doing. Their comments are all just innuendo, with no proof, nothing more. Don't let them sway you. Think!

Rocky Drill, who has an engineering degree from Humboldt State University, tutors math part-time and sings in the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir. He lives in Arcata.

The opinions expressed in My Word pieces do not necessarily reflect the editorial viewpoint of the Times-Standard.

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