A “push poll” – or a telephone survey that’s used to influence voters (as opposed to obtaining information from them) – is accusing Democratic congressional candidate Elizabeth Colbert-Busch of having had an abortion.
FITS investigated this allegation several weeks ago when the rumor was first floated to us and Colbert’s campaign told us unequivocally that the charge was “not true.” Given the lack of proof (or anything resembling independent confirmation) related to the allegation, we declined to publish a story. However that’s not stopping a shadowy group calling itself “SSI polling” from raising the charge in its “push polls.”
“What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had had an abortion?” first district voters were asked in the calls, which appeared on Caller ID screens as having originated from an “unknown number.”
The push-poll also made references to Colbert-Busch’s messy first divorce – which resulted in her spending a night behind bars as a result of a contempt of court charge.
The mysterious calls – first exposed by the left-leaning website Think Progress – represent the latest twist in an incredibly tight race between Colbert-Busch and former S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford.
Sanford’s campaign moved quickly to distance itself from the unsavory allegation.
“If there’s push polling going on it isn’t coming from us,” Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer told FITS, adding that he had not heard the content of the call.
Sawyer did generally refer to push-polling as a “terrible tactic.”
The push-poll bomb comes as Sanford appears to be regaining some of the ground he lost two weeks ago when lawyers for his ex-wife, former S.C. First Lady Jenny Sanford, accused him of habitually trespassing on her property. Jenny Sanford appears to have allowed the charges to become public after her husband permitted his ex-lover (now-fiancée) Maria Belen Chapur to appear alongside the Sanfords’ children at a victory party last month.
UPDATE: GOP sources are now alleging that the “push poll” is nothing but a Democratic stunt.
UPDATE II: Think Progress has posted an update to its original reporting on this subject here. The website notes that “Survey Sampling International, a Connecticut-based market research firm, confirmed that they have been involved in placing calls to voters in South Carolina.” The site goes on to state that “phone calls containing similar content – including questions about Colbert Busch’s divorce and possible credit card debt – have been placed into the district within the last few weeks on behalf of a third party.” No word yet on who that third party might be ...