Perhaps you’ve heard of Elizabeth Colbert Busch, the Democratic candidate in South Carolina’s upcoming special congressional election. If you don’t live in South Carolina’s first congressional district, you might only know that Elizabeth Colbert Busch is the sister of beloved AmeriCone Dream ice cream spokesman Stephen Colbert (who has used his ice cream goodwill to shamelessly rhapsodize on his sister’s many wonderful leadership qualities), and that she’s running against noted adulterer and former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, of the dour-faced Sanfords. She seems like a winner already, doesn’t she?
Ah, but what if someone called you up on the phone and asked if you, a female resident of South Carolina’s first congressional district and a registered Democrat, were aware that Elizabeth Colbert Busch once had an abortion, or that a judge held her in contempt of court during her divorce proceedings? What would you say about that, hmm? Hopefully, you’d say that, even if those completely unsubstantiated claims were true, they’re not at all germane to the current special election, and, anyway, Mark Sanford flat-out disappeared while he was ostensibly running South Carolina just so that he could fly down to Argentina and have sex. Then you’d hang up and go about your day. Hopefully, that’s exactly what you’d do, but the hypothetical reasonableness of South Carolina voters hasn’t stopped a shadowy polling firm from conducting a misleading poll in an apparent effort to plant a seed of doubt about Elizabeth Colbert Busch’s character in the minds of Democratic voters.
According to a report from Think Progress, a mysterious organization that has identified itself to voters only as “SSI Polling,” has been employing the ‘ol “push polling” election tactic, whereby, write TP’s Scott Keyes and Adam Peck, “a group calls up voters under the guise of conducting a poll, only to ask questions that leave the voter with a highly-misleading impression about a certain candidate.” Totally a dirty trick, but still — this is politics, and dirty tricks politics shouldn’t surprise or outrage anyone at this point in our age of political disillusionment. Everyone’s a liar, crook, cheat, etc., ad infinitum, we just pick the least liary, crookedy, cheatery cheats we can.
Except that the questions from SSI Polling were particularly shitty, according to what voters told Think Progress, ranging from “outlandish smears to thinly-veiled Republican talking points.” The SSI Polling calls seemed to target women who were registered Democrats, and, if active Democrat April Wolford’s judge of accents is trustworthy, come from out of state. The question list included the following:
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she had had an abortion?”
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you a judge held her in contempt of court at her divorce proceedings?
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if she had done jail time?”
- “What would you think of Elizabeth Colbert Busch if I told you she was caught running up a charge account bill?”
To all the remaining political idealists out there still angling to get into government so they can “change the system,” your boundless optimism is really quite charming. Somewhere, sad John McCain is eating his AmeriCone Dream in his boxer shorts, wondering about what might have been.
Image via AP, Bruce Smith