Public opinion polls are typically a source of controversy, especially during election season. Typically people on one side will use the information that looks good to them, while people on the other will do its best to discredit the data.
This year, however, the dispute isn’t so much about what’s in the poll, than about who did it. Architect Matt Kelty, a Republican Fort Wayne mayoral candidate, released poll data last week regarding the Harrison Square project and his race against Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters. The poll was conducted by Zogby International. The poll indicated Kelty and Peters were in a virtual tie, with about half the voters being undecided.
Kelty, however, said his camp did not commission the poll and declined to reveal who paid for it.
This fact was jumped on by Peters, who said he questions any data from a poll whose source was not revealed.
Kelty said he shared the report with the Peters camp, and he also provided
full copies to the media. Peters wanted nothing to do with it, however, and the report was returned to Kelty with a three-sentence letter from Ozzie Mitson, Peters’ campaign manager.
“While we appreciate the gesture, we do not want to be in possession of, or in any way be affiliated with, a poll paid for by undisclosed campaign donors,” the letter said.
Kelty’s refusal to reveal who financed the poll – he said he isn’t even sure who paid for it – further raised the question of whether he would have to include the data as an in-kind contribution to his political campaign. The pre-primary financial reports are due this week.
Peters, not surprisingly, said the source should definitely be included in Kelty’s report. Kelty said a friend who is an attorney is looking into the matter, but he questioned whether he would be forced to report any data given to his campaign. For example, he said an accountant gave him a breakdown of the community’s public debt and questioned whether he would have to report that.
Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, said because the poll results were initially given to the Kelty campaign and then used by the campaign, it would be wise for the campaign to report it as a contribution.
“He’s the one who got the media benefit from it,” Downs said. “I think it’s highly unlikely that if the results had not been favorable to Matt’s position, the rest of the world would have been made aware of the findings.”
Maybe we should conduct a poll to see what should be done.
Oh what a tangled web we weave when at first we practice to deceive.