The Pollsters Are Coming! The Pollsters Are Coming!

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With the 2012 Presidential election barely 14 months away, pollsters are beefing up their staffs, updating their phone lists, adding bandwidth to their robo-dialers, and devising fresh strategies to prevent people from hanging up on them, all in an effort to ensure that between now and Election Day, each American has yanked at least one landline from a wall and tossed at least one cellphone through a high-rise window.

It’s a once-every-four-years ritual, as enjoyably American as that other quadrennial mainstay, the post-50 colonoscopy–but without the refreshing anesthesia or the soothing lube.

Well, while we here at Fresh Rhetoric have not yet devised a strategy for improving the process of colo-rectal examination, our researchers at the Fresh Rhetoric Institute for Telephonic Communication and Public Opinion Response (known inside the polling industry as FRITCommPubOpResp, for short), after months of trial, error,  and focus group testing, have compiled a list of ten rejoinders–ten responses to pollster inquiries–designed not merely to get the pollster to hang up on you, but to get you crossed off the calling list entirely. 

From now until the 2012 election, when an unsolicited telephone pollster interrupts your early evening martini, try responding to his or her questions with one, some, or all of the following counter-questions:

–Are you running any specials?

–If I answer, will you tell me a story?

–Does that come with fries?

–What happens if I pick the wrong one?

–How come I can hear you, but I can’t see you?

–Can I buy a vowel?

–What do you suggest?

–Does it matter if I answer with my eyes closed?

–Can you give me a hint?

–Is it too late to pick Dukakis?

In clinical trials, under laboratory conditions, the average telephone pollster hung up (and was never heard from again) after the third rejoinder.  While we cannot guarantee the same results under real-world conditions (or with above average or below average telephone pollsters), we’d be remiss, given the success of our trials and the looming election season, if we delayed making these research results available to the public.  Indeed, if our release of this information reduces, even by one, the number of injuries caused by hurled landlines or falling cellphones during the coming election season, we will consider our efforts to have been not merely a success, but a public service.

Now, onward to 2012–alerted, informed, and unafraid to answer the phone.

~~Kenn Shapiro

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