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Friday, November 16, 2007
posted by Justin Hart | 4:39 PM | permalink
I just spoke at length with a senior Western Wats employee about the situation.

I told him that there are numerous reports now on both sides of the battle. One claiming that opposing campaigns are behind these efforts another pointing to Western Wats employees contributing to Mitt and claiming this is an inside job to make Mitt's opponents look bad.

First, he wanted to impress upon me that Western Wats does not do push polling, rather they do message testing. (I think this distinction will be lost on most people.)

Here are the key takeaways from the interview:
  • Western Wats does not write these scripts
  • They do not analyze the data
  • They don't know the outcome of the analysis
  • Many times they don't know the end client at all
I asked him about the NH AG looking into the matter. He said, he hoped they would it would save him a lot of headaches. The short of it is this (IMHO): we won't get any answers until there's a official investigation to pry it out of the NDA-clenched hands.

Here are some near verbatim quotes:

"I have to act like any business. I am under NDA to all of our clients. If I violate this there are serious consequences."

"Believe me. There are 100 conversations I wish I could have in depth with people today."

"The primary thing we do here is conduct and survey research data via telephone and internet surveys. We don't write or design or analyze the results. We simply collect the data."

"Like any industry, the research market is highly specialized. We specialize in making the calls and the technology that goes on behind it"

"First thing to note, we are not the author of the work, we don't have a primary interest in how that data is used. Its used on Fortune 500 companies across the world and in political campaigns as well. When we do any kind of a survey we don't have a direct interest in the outcome."

"As to the donations. Its a pretty big company by our market standard. I wouldn't be surprised if other people had given to other candidates"

"You should also understand that if you went to any political polling strategist the candidate message is tested as part of that process. Good or bad or indifferent. They use it to sculpt messages, speeches and media."

"People don't understand that this is very different from push polling"

"As a company we often don't know who the client is."

He sent me a press release:
It has come to the attention of Western Wats that several stories in the press are circulating claiming Western Wats engages in a practice commonly referred to as “push polling.”

Western Wats has never, currently does not, nor will it ever engage in push polling.

Often we find there is confusion on the question of what is legitimate opinion survey research and what is commonly referred to as push polling. American Association of Public Opinion Researcher (AAPOR), has good definitional information on push polling Additionally, interested individuals may find an article which appeared in the Rothenberg Political Report on this topic to be of interest.

Western Wats is a survey research data collection firm which services the opinion survey research and marketing research industries. Western Wats does not design or determine the content of the surveys it operationalizes by telephone or over the Internet, nor does it analyze or use the data for its own purposes. Confidentiality agreements prohibit us from commenting on specific projects and/or clients.
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Nice interview guys. It sheds some good light on this subject.

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