My caller ID said "CENTRAL RESEARC 212-777-1645." Ugh, I figured. Another telemarketer. It was 6:43 pm and, under normal circumstances, I would have let it go to voice mail.
But it came on my home office line and I happened to be expecting a call from New York. So I answered.
It turned out to be a political poll. And not just any old poll.
It started off in the usual way. Am I registered to vote? Do I plan to vote on election day? How do I label myself politically?
A few seemingly innocuous questions about religion followed. What was my faith? What was my denomination? How often did I attend services? From there, the focus became more explicitly political--and, again, perfectly typical. Was I Democrat or Republican? Etc.
The caller ran through a list of politicians, to ask whether I viewed them favorably or unfavorably. All the people you'd expect were on the list: George W. Bush. Barack Obama. John McCain. Sarah Palin. Hillary Clinton. Joe Biden. Joe Lieberman.
But then there was an odd inclusion: Jimmy Carter.
I can't say I made much of it at the time. To be quite honest--and this won't surprise my regular readers--I was more worked up over the fact that, when asked about the broad issues that concerned me most, the poll categorized health care as a social concern rather than an economic one. (I asked if I could change the categories; the caller said I couldn't.)
But soon enough I understood why they were asking about Carter. After going over some more issues and confirming the fact that I was likely to vote for Obama, the caller made a series of rather pointed inquiries. Would it affect my vote, he said, if I knew that
Obama has had a decade long relationship with pro-Palestinian leaders in Chicago
the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory
the church Barack Obama has attended is known for its anti-Israel and anti-American remarks
Jimmy Carter's anti-Israel national security advisor is one of Barack Obama's foreign policy advisors
Barack Obama was the member of a board (sic) that funded a pro-Palestinian chartiable organization
Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations exlcuding Israel if elected president
My notes are pretty close to verbatim. (I started typing as soon as I realized I was getting polled.) When the caller was finished, I got a supervisor on the phone and asked if he would tell me who was sponsoring the survey. He said he couldn't reveal that information.
All he would tell me was that he was calling from Central Marketing Research Inc. in New York City. And that makes sense. It seems that the same organization has been involved in these sorts of efforts before.
Update: Ben Smith at Politico reports that other Jewish voters are getting these calls, too. Based on his reporting and a comment from TNR reader "amstern," it sounds like the calls are going out to Jews in Florida, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Michigan (which is where I live).
Also, I corrected the improper use of "exorcised" in my original item.
Update 2: Over at Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz suggests these calls are too long to be true push polls. Instead, he says, they are testing negative messages against Obama.