Sturgeon County lowers red flag over phone poll
It's legit, and by Abingdon Research
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Friday, Oct 11, 2013 06:00 pm
False alarm, folks: reports of a disguised political poll roaming Sturgeon County this week have turned out to be greatly exaggerated.
County communications manager Calli Stromner issued an advisory on Oct. 8 that county staffers had received numerous complaints from residents about a telephone survey.
Residents had alleged that the pollsters claimed to be working for the county, and were asking which mayoral candidate they planned to support in the county election. Some also said they had been asked about their tax bills and provincial political party association. Residents and county staff were unclear as to who was doing the poll.
The Gazette learned on Oct. 9 that the poll was a legitimate one run by Abingdon Research, a national public opinion research firm that recently did a poll in St. Albert on the Capital Region Board. The complaints appear to be the result of a misunderstanding.
Garnett Genuis of Abingdon Research contacted the Gazette that day to clear up the confusion.
“We are doing a poll right now in Sturgeon County,” Genuis said – an omnibus poll that has questions commissioned by many different parties. (Two of those questions have been commissioned by Great West Newspapers, which publishes the Gazette, to gauge readership.)
“The poll starts with, ‘We’re calling from Abingdon Research about some issues in the county right now. Are you interested in taking a survey?’” Genuis said. One of those questions asks which provincial political party the respondent supports, which is a common demographic question.
“There aren’t any questions about people’s personal tax bills,” Genuis said, and pollsters clearly identify themselves as working for Abingdon Research.
Genuis confirmed that this was the poll that appeared to have sparked local concerns, as it did include questions on the municipal election and public policy.
The survey should wrap up in a few days, he said, and will involve about 400 respondents. It would be up to the company’s clients to release any information they receive.
The county doesn’t get a lot of calls from pollsters, Stromner said, so she suspects some residents may have mistaken Abingdon’s callers as working for the county (they’re not), prompting these complaints. “I think this is probably case-closed.” Abingdon has said it would make more effort to distance itself from county administration in the future.
Stromner advised residents who are called by pollsters to ask callers whom they represent and how their information will be used. “If you don’t feel comfortable giving the information, you can end the phone call pretty quickly.”