As for Clover Basin, Benker says, she took the lead on eliminating a dated, duplicative tax in that fire district, and that she voted in favor of a successful council motion in July to discontinue the tax. Her opponents, she says, are keying in on the fact that the final vote to formally end the intergovernmental agreement between the city and the district didn’t occur until this month.
Another question in the poll that Benker says targets her unfairly asks whether an unnamed City Council candidate wanting to “impose” unionism on local police and firefighters would make voters more or less likely to vote for the candidate. She says she voted to send a ballot question to the voters a couple of years ago regarding unions for police and firefighters, and voters approved it.
Ferguson, the PR chief for WTP, insists that his organization doesn’t “take sides on who gets elected,” and that the survey in question was “absolutely not a push poll.” He says it only targeted 434 voters, and push polls, by definition, are directed at a much larger segment of voters. There are 17,045 active voters in Longmont’s Ward 2, the site of the Benker/Witt race.
“If we were trying to change people’s minds, we would have called more,” he says.
Ferguson also maintains that the same scientific methods used in surveys like the Gallup Poll were used in the inquiry his organization funded.
Gessler and WTP chief Leis also deny that the survey was a “push poll,” primarily because of its small survey size. They say the poll asked about non-Benker issues and demographic data, and that its results were actually used to assess the effectiveness of messages, contrary to traditional push polls. Gessler describes the poll as “message-testing,” or measuring what arguments against Benker resonate well with voters.
Asked about another litmus test for whether something is a “push poll,” whether it is intended to affect voters’ attitudes toward a particular candidate, Gessler and Leis insist that it was more about issues than Benker.
“If it was an attempt to campaign, it would have been completely ineffective,” Leis told Boulder Weekly. Leis did not share the full list of questions or any of the results of the poll.
“Express advocacy and getting people elected is not what Western Tradition Partnership does,” Leis says. When asked whether the group disagrees with positions Benker has taken, he says, “We would have an interest in having her change her mind, but whether she gets elected is simply not what we do.”