A pollster called the East Lake home of one of my AJC colleagues, Aaron Gould Sheinin, last night. The topic was the mayoral runoff.
The first screen was whether anyone in the household worked in television or radio. No mention of newspapers.
While his wife answered the questions, Sheinin hopped on the other line and took notes. It was a long questionnaire – so long that the telemarketer fell asleep in the middle. Really.
The questions were equally tough on both Mary Norwood, the front-runner in last week’s voting, and Kasim Reed, who finished a surprisingly strong second. So it sounds more like a legitimate, theme-testing effort rather than a push poll.
Among the questions:
Q: What should be the top priority for the next mayor?
Q: Do you approve or disapprove of the current City Council and how its members are handling their jobs?
Q: Would the endorsement of someone like Lisa Borders make you more or less likely to support one of the candidates?
Q: Which is more important to you in a candidate: A fresh, new perspective or one who follows Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young?
Q: Which candidate do the following qualities and attributes describe?
2. Understands problems and concerns of people like him or her.
3. Can bring people together.
4. Is a strong leader.
5. Has integrity and good judgment.
6. Inspires people and offers hope.
7. Has the right experience.
8. Will keep property taxes low.
9. Bring jobs and economic development to Atlanta.
10. Will bring change to City Hall.
11. Will clean up corruption and ethics in City Hall.
12. Is running a negative campaign.
The telemarketer then asked whether certain issues might raise concerns about Reed, and asked her to rate them on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 representing the the most worrisome.
On the list:
1. Reed hasn’t managed his own affairs well and now wants to manage the city council.
2. His solution to the city’s problems, budget problems is to increase taxes and to raise everyone’s share of the burden.
This is where the telemarketer fell asleep. When roused from Atlanta, he said something about Mayor Shirley Franklin hiring Richard Pennington as Atlanta’s police chief, Reed leading the effort to bring him to the city, and “ever since the department has dealt with charges of wide spread corruption.”
At this point the pollster declared he was from New Orleans. “They know from corruption,” he said. “It was all about quotas.”
He then switched to Norwood and went over doubts that might exist over her:
1. Mary Norwood is a Republican campaign contributor and former delegate to a Republican convention. Norwood voted Republican most of the time and Norwood said she couldn’t remember whether she voted for George W. Bush.
2. Norwood talks about putting city finances in order but has helped create the problem by voting for generous pension increases for city employees.
3. Mary Norwood spent more city money on perks than any other member of city council and she gave taxpayer money to her own telemarketing company. Norwood also voted to allow city employees to accept gifts and money for lobbyists.
4. Mary Norwood said she’d be tough on crime, but as a member of city council, Mary Norwood voted twice against spending more money on city police officers and fire fighters. Those policies contributed to furloughs that made the city of Atlanta less safe.
Last question: Would you be more or less likely to support a candidate for mayor who supported gay marriage?
The telemarketer ended with an insightful observation: “This should be a big question in Atlanta, because they have a lot of homosexuals.”
Your confidence in polling just shot through the roof, didn’t it?
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