(Washington, D.C.)—CMOR in late February helped defeat Louisiana House Bill 58—legislation that would have severely harmed political survey and opinion research with residents of Louisiana.
HB 58, which would have required disclosure of a poll’s sponsor at the beginning of a call, passed the State House February 18. It came up for consideration in the State Senate on Feb. 28. A joint effort by CMOR staff and a new CMOR grassroots volunteer helped to defeat the bill that day.
The bill’s sponsor eventually passed legislation regulating only election communications—sparing survey and opinion research any noticeable impact.
Jude Olinger, CEO of the Olinger Group and a CMOR grassroots volunteer, played a key role in helping CMOR to defeat the legislation. Mr. Olinger drove to the State House in Baton Rouge, and there—using information and analysis provided by CMOR’s government affairs staff—personally appealed to legislators on behalf of the research profession.
“From the wording of questions to the accent of the interviewers, researchers strive mightily to eliminate bias from all aspects of the research process,” said LaToya Lang, CMOR’s State Legislative Director. “With the help of concerned and motivated profession leaders like Jude, CMOR continues to advance the survey and opinion research profession and protect it from threats like Louisiana House Bill 58.”
Mr. Olinger also turned Representative Neil Abramson (Democrat, District 78) into an active advocate for the profession. Rep. Abramson will be working with him and CMOR staff to introduce legislation to protect the use of automated political polls (those using Interactive Voice Response and similar systems) and to restrict persuasion calls (also known as “push polls”) during Louisiana’s regular session starting March 31.
How HB 58 Threatened the Research Profession
LA H.B. 58 would have required stating at the beginning of any telephone poll regarding a political candidate or proposition:
(1) Whether or not it was paid for by a candidate or political committee (or such entity’s agent); and
(2) The name and contact info of the sponsor or candidate/committee.
It would also have required reports within 24 hours to a supervisory committee regarding payments or expenditures for such polls.
Disclosure of who paid for or commissioned a poll and their relationship to a political candidate or ballot initiative (especially at the beginning of a research call) can completely distort or bias the answers respondents provide to research questions.
In most instances, the interviewer administering the questions is unaware who sponsored the poll, or why. The bias that would result from such disclosure would make it extremely difficult to produce scientifically and statistically valid data—an essential tool in political campaigns.
About the CMOR State Capitol Network
Grassroots volunteers work with CMOR to protect and promote the survey and opinion research profession. They help to monitor and respond to legislation that impacts the profession and to foster positive relationships with policymakers and their staffs.
Researchers participate as grassroots volunteers to get involved in policy and politics, to protect their business and research and to stay informed. This way, members of the research profession make their voices heard on issues that impact their businesses while networking with their peers who share similar concerns.