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Firm behind Foster health care phone poll won't apologize
By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Rep. Bill Foster

 

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Published: 3/27/2010 12:26 AM

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Springfield-based We Ask America owned up to being the source of an anonymous phone poll in the 14th Congressional District on Friday, but didn't offer the apology Congressman Bill Foster's campaign asked for.

Instead, We Ask America Spokesman Gregg Durham said Foster's campaign only has a gripe with the poll because they don't like the results. Those results show the majority of the 1,371 people polled in the district are less likely to vote for Foster in November because he supported the health care bill passed by the House this week. The results include 57 percent of the district's key independent voters saying they are less likely to support Foster. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.64 percent.

"If my results had been the other way, my guess is there wouldn't be this human cry," Durham said of the Foster camp's complaints. "The reality is people in that district did not like that vote."

Foster's campaign requested an apology after some respondents complained that the poll rejected every attempt they made to record support for Foster's vote. The campaign also said the poll was set up to come from a Washington, D.C. area code to make it seem like it was Foster himself who was conducting the poll.

Durham said the Washington, D.C. area code is sometimes used because people are more likely to respond to a call from that area code. He said an occasional glitch in a phone poll is not unheard of. However, all attempts to reproduce an inability to respond favorably to Foster's vote failed. Durham said any person who did not complete the full poll was not counted in the votes. He added that no political party or candidate commissioned his company to run the poll, so it is free of any partisan bias.

"We did it on our own to create discussion and promote polling," Durham said.

Durham's and We Ask America's ties to the Republican Party won't be lost on Democrats suspicious of the poll. Durham has a long history of working for and financially supporting the Illinois Republican Party and political candidates such as Judy Baar Topinka and Ron Gidwitz. Durham said these days his work is commissioned about 60 percent of the time by Republicans and 40 percent of the time by Democrats. We Ask America is also a subsidiary of XPress Professional Services. That company also has a long history of work and support of Republican candidates. Most recently it did polling work for Kirk Dillard's gubernatorial campaign and made a $750 campaign contribution to Kane County Board Chairman Karen McConnaughay.

All of those facts left Foster's campaign unsatisfied with Durham's lack of an apology.

"We Ask America admits to technical errors in their polling technology, which completely compromises the accuracy of their polling," said Matt Snodgrass, political director of Foster's campaign. "Why should we trust the data from an organization that neither identifies themselves nor uses functional polling technology?"