Friday, July 11, 2008

Slots Polling Foreshadows New Marketing Initiative

Someone has hired a sophisticated polling firm to analyze voter attitudes on slots, as my wife and I found out last night. This signals a new marketing effort on the issue.

Have you ever made the mistake of answering the phone right before dinner? I rarely do that – I am too busy fielding cell-phone calls from complaining MPW readers! Anyway, my wife actually answered the phone and the call was from a polling firm identifying itself as “Issues and Opinions.” The caller kept her on for over a half-hour with questions broken out into the following categories:

1. Ratings of Politicians and Economy
The caller began by asking my wife to rate Barack Obama, John McCain, Martin O’Malley and other politicians on a scale of 1 to 10. Then he asked her to comment on the state of the economy in Maryland.

2. Tests of Slots Arguments
The caller tested a variety of arguments favoring and opposing slots. He would read one argument and then ask her to rate it as very convincing, somewhat convincing, somewhat unconvincing or totally unconvincing. Examples of the tested arguments in favor include “slots are an alternative to tax increases,” “slots are necessary for education,” and “Marylanders are spending lots of money on slots in other states.” Examples of the tested arguments opposed include “politicians will raise taxes anyway,” and “slots will cost more dollars to fight crime and addiction than they will generate for the state.” There were many, many other tested arguments on both sides. Clearly, the caller wanted to know what would work.

3. Questions on Supporters or Opponents of Slots
The caller asked my wife whether knowledge of a politician’s or organization’s position on slots would affect her position one way or the other. Tested supporters or opponents included Martin O’Malley, Mike Miller, Peter Franchot, “your state legislators,” the Maryland Chamber of Commerce and the Maryland State Teachers Association.

4. General Demographic Questions
The caller finished by asking my wife to identify her age, race, party affiliation (and strength of affiliation), political ideology and religion.

This was a long and sophisticated poll with dozens of questions. The details will provide ample opportunity for informative cross-tabulations if the firm contacts enough respondents. The firm is seeking to develop a matrix that will illustrate the most effective arguments, both favoring and opposed, for each of many racial, age-based, political and geographic sub-units. This is clear preparation for an advanced mass-marketing effort.

My hunch is that the anti-slots activists do not have enough money to afford professional research of this kind. That means it is a project implemented by the well-financed pro-slots forces. Get ready, people – whatever your opinion on slots, you will be hearing scientifically-tested arguments on them very soon!