A mysterious poll that posed outlandish questions about the two Senate District 3 candidates has irked a number of local residents who responded to political survey calls recently.
“I was shocked at the questions,” said outgoing Sen. Alan DeBoer, R-Ashland, who has endorsed Jessica Gomez in the race for his seat. “They just tore Jessica apart.”
DeBoer said he contacted Cathy Shaw, campaign manager for Gomez’ Democratic opponent, Jeff Golden, to verify she wasn’t behind the poll.
After talking it over with Shaw and the Gomez campaign, DeBoer said he suspects he might have been the victim of a prank poll.
DeBoer said he’s had no luck so far tracking down who was behind the poll, which appears to have contacted other local residents.
Long River Research in Beaverton was cited by some residents as the polling company, but a phone number listed for Long River was no longer working.
The calls trashed both candidates, who will face off in November, with several allegations, such as referring to Golden as a racist or that Gomez owes $200,000 in back taxes. Many thought the questions were more in line with a push-poll that attempts to influence voter opinion about a candidate by throwing out negative statements.
Golden said some of the statements posed to residents were outrageous. “They discovered my strong support for ISIS,” he said jokingly.
As the campaign progresses, Golden said he anticipates that big money will attempt to poison the local race for Senate with more underhanded polls and other negative tactics.
“I expected to get roughed up in this race, and I expect to see it’s going to get worse as we go along,” Golden said. “This is a local example of our democracy and our ability to select our representatives under broad-based attacks.”
Michelle Johannes, spokeswoman for Gomez, said the Gomez campaign is confident Senate Republican leaders, who have been behind other negative campaign tactics, weren’t involved in the polling.
“We reached out to the Golden campaign, and they were just as surprised as us,” she said. “They don’t know where it came from.”
Johannes said the polling questions presented misinformation or negative information about both sides, something that she said Gomez doesn’t condone.
“It’s just disappointing,” she said.
Peter Sage, who writes a local blog on politics and has been weighing in on the poll, said he thought it might be a partisan prankster.
In his talks with some of those polled, Sage said, “During the calls, there were statements that people perceived as over the top or unfair.”
Sage said some of the outlandish statements included referring to Golden as someone who wanted women to sit down and stay in their place in the workplace, or that Gomez refuses to pay her taxes.
Sage said he thought the questions and statements were an attempt to gauge how strongly voters felt about a candidate.
Gayle Lewis, a Jacksonville resident, said she’s not sure whether the pollster who called her from Long River Research in Beaverton was the same pollster who called others.
“I was just so annoyed because it wasn’t like a regular political poll,” she said. “It wasn’t nasty. It was extremely biased and ... it was fishy.”
She said the woman who called her sounded like an all-American college girl. “She was very pleasant even when I got ornery,” Lewis said.
She said she told the pollster that she had favorable feelings about both Golden and Gomez.
DeBoer said he was at his son-in-law’s house and answered the phone, pretending to be the son-in-law while the pollster asked questions for about 20 minutes.
“The person had a very foreign accent,” he said.
Coincidentally, Gomez was also conducting a poll at the same time, so initially DeBoer thought it might be from the same polling company.
“Progressively the questions just got worse,” said DeBoer. “I was asked, ‘Did you know she’d paid out over $200,000 in a workman’s comp claim against her?’”
While most of the questions were directed at Gomez, a few were also about Golden, he said.
DeBoer said he thinks Gomez and Golden will both run clean campaigns, and he doesn’t think voters should fall for this type of polling.
“We shouldn’t become a puppet to this,” he said.
Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.