HUFFPOLLSTER: What Is A Push Poll, Anyway?

Donald Trump is accusing Ted Cruz of running “push polls” in South Carolina, but a whole lot isn't clear.
The Ted Cruz campaign denies they are engaging in "push polls" in South Carolina. 
The Ted Cruz campaign denies they are engaging in "push polls" in South Carolina. 

Campaigns turn sleazy as they move into South Carolina; rumor has it Ted Cruz is running "push polls" in the state. Voters with daughters are more likely to support Hillary Clinton. And college activism reaches a 50-year high. This is HuffPollster for Friday, February 12, 2016.

IS TED CRUZ RUNNING “PUSH POLLS”? - Sam Stein: “If politics were, in fact, a game of beanbag, the South Carolina primary would be a bag of rusty nails….The first projectiles came on Thursday, as the remaining Republican presidential candidates descended on the Palmetto State to engage in some good ole-fashion dirt-slinging and innuendo….[Sen. Ted Cruz] seems to be running push polls against Trump, which the real estate mogul has deemed ‘very sleazy.’” [HuffPost]

Robocalls gave negative information about his rivals - Ben Terris: Here’s a story, the gist of which will sound familiar to anyone living in South Carolina: Natalie Barrett, a 53-year-old schoolteacher from Westminster, got a robo-call earlier this month and ended up furious. Barrett said she found the call — which continued to say negative things about Rubio before taking shots at Donald Trump for being a supporter of eminent domain — to be ‘negative and ‘unfair,’ but she couldn’t figure out right away who it was from. The voice said the poll was conducted by some place called Remington Research. She told her Rubio-supporting friend about the call; her friend told the campaign. They said they knew exactly what Remington Research was: a consulting firm started by Sen. Ted Cruz’s campaign manager, Jeff Roe.” [WashPost]

Cruz campaign denies involvement - More from Terris:‘We’re not doing any robo-polls in South Carolina,’ said Chris Wilson, Cruz’s director of research. ‘It’s not us making those calls. Anyone can make those calls as Remington Research to screw with reporters and make Jeff look like he’s doing something.’” [WashPost]

What is a “push poll”? - Mark Blumenthal, from 2006: “[T]he important thing to remember is that a ‘push poll’ is not a poll at all. It's a fraud, an attempt to disseminate information under the guise of a legitimate survey. The proof is in the intent of the person doing it….You want to spread the rumor or exploit the issue without leaving fingerprints. So you hire a telemarketer to make phone calls that pretend to be a political poll. You ‘ask’ only a question or two aimed at spreading the rumor (example: ‘would you be more or less likely to support John McCain if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate child who was black?’). You want to make as many calls as quickly as possible, so you do not bother with the time consuming tasks performed by most real pollsters...Again, the proof is in the intent: If the sponsor intends to communicate a message to as many voters as possible rather than measure opinions or test messages among a sample of voters, it qualifies as a ‘push poll.’” [HuffPost]

HAVING A DAUGHTER INCREASES LIKELIHOOD OF SUPPORTING HILLARY CLINTON - Michael Tesler: "Here is one important explanation for why many young Democrats do not support Hillary Clinton: They have not yet parented a daughter. The economist Atif Mian raised this possibility last week.  He connected Hillary Clinton’s poor performance with young voters to my previous post showing that parents of daughters are more likely to prefer Clinton over Sanders than are parents of only sons….The data certainly support his statement. And it’s not just because 18- to 29-year-olds have far fewer daughters than older people. It’s because the 'daughter effect' is particularly pronounced for young people…. Obviously, the daughter effect is hardly the whole story here. Nevertheless, it is a key reason why most young voters prefer Sanders to Clinton." [WashPost]

SEE WHERE CANDIDATES HAVE THE MOST FACEBOOK “LIKES” - Matthew Conlen and Reuben Fischer-Baum: "If Facebook likes were votes, Bernie Sanders would be on pace to beat Hillary Clinton nationwide by a nearly 3-to-1 margin and Donald Trump to garner more support than Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio combined. Anything seems possible this year, but, still, be careful how you interpret these numbers: Facebook likes are not votes." [538]

POLITICAL ENGAGEMENT AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS IS ON THE RISE - Adrienne Green: "[A] new survey of college freshman indicates that these students are more interested in political engagement and activism than they have been in years….The percent of students who said they had a 'very good chance' of participating in protests increased 2.9 percentage points—from 5.6 to nearly 9 percent—since last year’s survey, making this class the most ambitious about campus demonstrations in the survey’s 50-year history." [Atlantic]

Interest in activism has increased most among minority students -  Teresa Watanabe: "Nearly 60% of freshmen surveyed said they expected to vote sometime during their college years and majorities supported same-sex marriage, abortion rights, affirmative action, legalization of marijuana and equal pay for women. They also overwhelmingly oppose U.S. involvement in other countries' wars.‘….But their attitudes were markedly different according to race and ethnicity. Although interest in political and civic activism has grown among all students, African American and Latino students were far more likely than Asians and whites to expect to participate in a campus demonstration. They were also more likely to believe it important to promote racial understanding and influence politics." [LA Times] 

WOMEN’S VIEWS ON GUNS ARE COMPLICATED - Emily DePrang: "To read any set of statistics about guns in the United States is to read about men. Surveys typically assess gun ownership by household, meaning that if one person keeps a gun, his or her choice ends up representing the preference of everyone in the home. Counting by household silences the voice of whoever lost the debate, if there was one. And in the important and demographically lopsided issue of gun ownership, the silenced voice is usually a woman's…. According to our findings, 12 percent of American women own a gun. But nearly three times as many men own guns as women do, and male gun owners are more likely to carry their guns in public than female gun owners are... It's a disparity made all the more striking by the fact that 74 percent of the women we polled believe that men have a different mindset about guns than they do. Many attributed this to the fact that men are made more comfortable with guns from an early age, from toys to hunting, and that women aren't as often exposed." [Marie Claire]

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FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-A new HuffPost/YouGov poll offers scientific proof that Jeb Bush is a Hufflepuff and Donald Trump belongs in Slytherin. [HuffPost]

-Nearly 7 in 10 Americans don't care about award shows. [HuffPost]

-Usage of dating sites and apps has tripled among young adults  in the last three years. [Pew]  

-Jonathan Bernstein assesses the remaining GOP candidates' chances at the nomination. [Bloomberg]  

-Nate Cohn analyzes what Bernie Sanders needs to do to ensure success in the remaining primary states. [NYT]

-Jonathan Ladd thinks Hillary Clinton's greatest challenge is convincing voters she has evolved with the party. [Vox]