Someone's doing dirty work in Iowa: message-testing phone calls against John Edwards and Hillary Clinton...

Why do you think Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate and gives 3 choices. A) Is a weak general election candidate. B)Is too dependent on lobbyist money. C) Won't bring change.


Then why do do think John Edwards is a weak candidate with 2 choices A) a weak general election candidate because his positions are too liberal B) He should be home with his wife who has cancer.



Who might the suspect be?

First, don't be so quick to blame (or credit) Barack Obama's campaign.

Campaign often test negative messages against themselves -- they want to poll their negatives.
Come to think of it, the "negatives" cited by the telephone poll-taker are the Edwards campaign version of HRC's negatives, not the Obama campaign's version of negatives. (An Edwards campaign spokesman chastizes me for the speculation and absolutely denies that the campaign has anything to do with the calls). Or maybe Hillary Clinton might want to test the effectiveness of John Edwards's messaging. Both Clinton's campaign spokesman, Phil Singer, and Obama's spokesman, Bill Burton, said their respective campaigns had nothing to do with the calls either.

"Central Research" is the name of the phone farm.

No disbursements have been paid to a firm of that name this cycle or last cycle, so "Central Research" -- a real company based in Arkansas -- is in itself, sort of a front for a front for the guilty campaign.

Here's how it works:

A campaign pays a consulting firm X amount of dollars. It's required to divulge the payment. The consulting firm, in turn, pays Central Research 1/X dollars. Since the consulting firm is a private business, it doesn't have to disclose much about its contracts.

BTW: This might not technically push-polling. Push-polls aren't polls -- they're widely distributed pseudo-polls that are only used to spread negative messages. If these calls turn out to be widely distribured --if, say, 50,000 caucus goers received them -- then, perhaps, they're push-polls. But if only 500 received them, then you're probably looking at a message-testing poll.

But real push polls are rare -- the volume required to sufficiently spread a negative message is beyond the capacity of most campaigns.

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