November 06, 2006

Election Dirty Trick: Misleading Robocalls

Another Karl Rove election, another dirty trick.

1986: Rove bugs his own offices and insinuates that Democrats did it, just prior to Texas gubernatorial debate to distract press attention from his candidate's poor performance.
1994: With Rove working for Bush, rumors circulate in conservative East Texas that Bush's opponent Ann Richards is a lesbian.
2000: The Bush campaign uses push-polling against primary opponent John McCain in South Carolina, implying McCain had an illegitimate black child.
2004: Swift Boat group, funded by Rove associate Bob Perry, smears Kerry.
And the list goes on.

Today, during what could be Rove's final campaign,  the Washington Post reports,

This year's heavy volume of automated political phone calls has infuriated countless voters and triggered sharp complaints from Democrats, who say the Republican Party has crossed the line in bombarding households with recorded attacks on candidates in tight House races nationwide. Some voters, sick of interrupted dinners and evenings, say they will punish the offending parties by opposing them in today's elections. But critics say Republicans crafted the messages to delude voters -- especially those who hang up quickly -- into thinking that Democrats placed the calls.

Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall gives more detail:

Most of the call's script is a fairly standard attack robocall, a series of Republican talking points aimed at the Democratic congressional in a particular district. Nothing particularly noteworthy. The key is the introduction. The lead into the call starts with the speaker saying 'I'm calling with information about' Dem candidate X. Then there's a short pause.

At this point, you know it's an annoying robocall, so a lot of people just hang up. If you hang up then, you think it's a call from the Democratic candidate.

Second, the repetition. And this part is the key. If you don't listen through the whole message, the machine keeps calling you back, often well in excess of half a dozen times with the same call. It only stops if you listen all the way through.

As you can imagine, that's driving a lot of people through the roof.

In other words, the Republicans behind the calls win either way. If you keep hanging up, you think you're being harassed by the campaign of the local Democratic House candidate. If you give up and listen all the way through, you hear the political attack. The true source of the call, the NRCC, the GOP House campaign committee, is only revealed at the end of the call.

Does Rove have a hand in this?  He's the main Republican strategist for the midterm elections, and these calls are happening in several districts in what appears to be a coordinated effort. In any case, if you're getting these calls, just know whose party is behind them, and take out your enmity on the right candidate.

By Will Friedman in Politics | Permalink  | 


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