Well, yes. But not in the way they may have intended. Here is a “survey” they posted to their mailing list recently. I was registered as a Republican for a time, so I am on that list.
Those who know me well will recall that market research was one of my early careers. I know how to construct a survey intended to discover facts and opinions in an unbiased way. This one is carefully crafted to do exactly the opposite, and I doubt that the “results” are ever actually tabulated, except for the amount contributed.
Here are a few observations that you can verify for yourself:
- It is NOT anonymous. In fact it rather obviously declares that it is “registered” uniquely to the recipient. [Is it? The barcode and registration number look like they were just part of the print layout, not individually added. Note that the letter is not personalized, but addressed to “Fellow American” yet it has the “Registration Number” emphasized and in a red box.]
- The addressing was done by the mailing house on high-speed equipment. Mailing houses usually do not work from lists maintained by their client, they use their own as part of the service they provide. And the client would probably not want their prized lists of donors to be shared with the mailer.
- The questions are actually assertions that the respondent is asked to vote “yes” or “no” to on the record. [Do they care if Joe Citizen agrees?]
- The donation form asks for inforation that the GOP should already have for “registered” respondents, [Why didn’t they fill it in to increase the ease of responding?]
- Authentic opinion surveys recognize that many people don’t have firm “yes” or “no” opinions. Real surveys offer degrees of agreement when they ask about assertions.
I could go on picking over the details, but you get my point. This mailing is aimed at someone who feels so self-important that they believe the GOP wants to know their views. The questions are crafted to ask the person to declare his or her orthodoxy and go on record. The act of responding is designed to stoke outrage and firm-up partisan feeling, and it asks the respondent to move from outrage to action by writing a check.
To answer all the questions requires that you read all of them. In direct mail advertising, there is a proven rule: a mailing can’t be “too long”; it can only be “too boring.” So the strategy is: (1) Motivate the recipient to complete the questionnaire; (2) Use the questions spark outrage; (3) Convert the outrage into cash.
Anyone who is at all self-aware and worldly-wise should be insulted by the posturing and slick manipulation this mailing embodies. What must their political party think of them? The media is the message and it is one of deception–a con game to get more money.
The GOP has been doing mailings like this for many many years. They are expensive. They would not be repeated if they did not produce the revenue. Thus, in a curious way, this GOP mailing does reveal the truth about Republicans: integrity ranks far below money and power in their spectrum of cherished values. The rank and file are “useful idiots” in the eyes of those who lead the GOP as this mailing demonstrates with abundant clarity.