Judges spending more money

Guest Post by Adam Compton

This past week, while I was at home in Cedar Grove, I received a very interesting phone call.

The woman on the line, who never identified herself, asked, "Sir, are you a registered voter in the Orange County area?"

When I said I was, she continued to tell me I had been selected for a survey. I had a little time on my hands, so I agreed to answer her questions. She began by running through a list of people and asking if I had heard of them.

"Mike Easley?"

"Charles Anderson?"

"Adam Stein?"

"Carl Fox?"

"Allen Baddour?"

After I replied that I knew them all, she asked who I planed to vote for in the election for Superior Court Judge. I told her that I was an Anderson supporter.

That's when things got interesting.

The woman ran through a series of questions, asking me if I would be more or less likely to vote for this candidate under a given set of conditions.

There were several questions about asking me if a candidate is unable to finish his term in office would I be more or less likely to vote for him. At least two - a question about age and a question about term limits.

I was also asked, "If a candidate has no experience in the court room, would you be more or less likely to vote for him?

If a candidate has no experience in the Superior Court room?

If a candidate is only 35 years old?

If a candidate was endorsed by The Independent?

If a candidate was previously appointed by Governor Easley?

If a candidate was previously a district attorney?

The next set of questions was basically the same form as the last, but specifically about platforms. If this candidate wants to do _____ would I be more or less likely to vote for him?

Until now, no candidates had been identified, other than the first set of questions about name recognition and the question about who I planned to vote for.

But at this point, the pollster gave me a list of all the candidates and a listed a sampling of highlights from their platforms. Most of the questions seemed like the language had been taken directly from candidates' websites.

After this final set of questions, she asked me again who I planned to vote for in the fall. When I said I was still supporting Judge Anderson, she reminded me to vote and thanked me for my time. Again, she never identified any company or campaign for which she was working.

Now, to be completely honest, I was more than a little bit surprised to find myself responding to a poll for the Superior Court judge race in 15B. Especially in the middle of August. Given the time I spent on the phone (I'd estimate 15 to 20 minutes) and the type of questions I was asked, I'd say this was a benchmark poll. My guess is that whoever is paying for this will fund at least one tracking poll, probably a couple weeks after Labor Day.

To me, that seems like it's an incredible amount of money to invest in a race of this sort. Especially when you consider this is part of a bigger campaign strategy and the data from the poll will be tied to direct mail and other media (radio? television?). I think we all know that there are only two candidates who are looking to spend this type of money right now - Baddour and Stein.

Just given the nature of the questions, (esp. when I was asked about age being an issue and when I was asked about Stein's inability to serve a full term) my guess is that Baddour is the guy who sponsored this survey. But if he's got a poll in the field, you've got to wonder if Stein is far behind.

I'm wondering if anyone else on Orange Politics got this call. If so, how did it make you feel? What did you make of it? Even if you didn't get the call, does it feel a little bit out of place in a local campaign (for judge, of all things) like this? Like it's too overtly political? Does it worry anyone else that we're seeing this much money get spent on race for the local bench?

Adam Compton is a lifelong resident of Cedar Grove and a rising junior at NC State.


Total votes: 154


Adam, are you suggesting this was "push" polling?


I don't want to put words in Adam's mouth (he's my little brother,a and he hates it when I do that), but since he says, "Given the time I spent on the phone (I'd estimate 15 to 20 minutes) and the type of questions I was asked, I'd say this was a benchmark poll" -- I don't think he was trying to suggest that anyone was "pushing" anything.

I think Adam stated pretty clearly his opinion that this was likely a beginning point for a tracking poll, which would measure the change in people's opinions over time. There's nothing inherently nefarious about that, but it's really unsettling to see this election (and some others, like the Foy-Pavão mayoral race in 2001 for example) becoming so expensive that candidates will have to spend a lot of time kissing a lot of rich booty to even consider viable campaigns.

Then again, Stein, Baddour, and Anderson are all being forced to vie for one of the two seats against Carl Fox who is such a political institution in Orange and Chatham counties that he is effectively untouchable in this race. I can see why they feel the need to bring out the big guns (if they have them).

The weird thing is that in any other situation, I'd probably support any of those three for a judgeship, but I am being forced to choose. Adam Stein is far and away my favorite, personally. So I hope it wasn't his campaign doing this polling.

Hey, if I were running and had the money, I'd do it.

As far as I'm concerned, there's nothing nefarious about a candidate wanting to know how they're doing so far.

Right, Jeff. But the question is: what if you didn't have the money? Would that make you a less qualified judge?

And shouldn't the poll explain who is sponsoring it?

I hope and pray that Carl Fox is not considered an untouchable instution. The man was a horrible DA who only survived because of the Democratic nomination and lack of other people who wanted his job. I was horrified to hear he got kicked upstairs by Governor Easley. I don't know who I *will* be voting for in November, but I can promise you it will not be Carl Fox -- the man simply let too many people off with light punishments for my taste.


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