Jews in Pennsylvania and Florida have been receiving deceptive political phone calls asking: Would it affect your voting choice to learn that “Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations excluding Israel if elected president?” What if you learned that “the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama’s victory?”
Jonathan Cohn of the New Republicreceived one of these misleading calls and tried to dig up who was behind the smear. The supervisor gave the name Central Marketing Research Inc., but would give little information beyond that. Ben Smith of the Politico got reports that the phone calls came from “Research Strategies” and were directed at people in the traditionally Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and in Key West, Florida.
The phone calls have been called “push polling” by a number of news organizations. Some have pointed out the similarities between the phone calls against Obama and the smears that hurt John McCain campaign in the 2000 election. David Kurtz, writing for Talking Points Memo, points out that the polls seem to be part of a real opinion poll “testing the effect of fear-mongering about Obama on Jewish voters,” rather than a traditional push poll. In either case, the smear seems to indicate that as distasteful as things have gotten in this election, they’re probably going to get worse.