Surveys checking how you plan to vote

Dude knocks on my door, identifies himself, ensures he’s talking to The Inigo Montoya, and then proceeds to ask me how I plan to vote in November on a couple ballot measures and state & federal government personnel. My go-to response is “That’s my business. Buh Bye.” and in response to his enquiry of “Is there another voter living here I can talk to?” I curtly respond with “No, because how they will vote is their business as well.” Couple reasons for this attitude. First and foremost, it’s MY business how I vote. If this sort of thing were meant to be public then there wouldn’t be any privacy incorporated into the voting process. More paranoid, less rational, and pretty high up on my list of priorities is, I don’t want my votes or party affiliations to haunt me as they have haunted others in the past. Would hate to belong to the “wrong” party should things turn nasty.

As I went about my busy, I got to wondering why that person was performing that particular task. Surely, nobody asks such things out of idle curiosity. The only reason I could come up with boils down to: “Find out who (demographic) in this district is voting for X, Y, and Z so we can adjust our campaign efforts accordingly.” which made me feel better about rebuffing the poor soul.

This strategy seems reasonable if your intent is to WIN, but I find it to be disgustingly dishonest at its roots. How about you present X, Y, and Z to me as they are and let me decide what I like, and don’t try and make the position more appealing to me when you discover I don’t like your initial pitch?

What are your opinions about this sort of thing?

You say the person “identified himself.” Did he happen to say whether he was a campaign volunteer, a pollster, a reporter, a home improvement salesman, or just an incredibly nosy person?

Knocking on my door is their first mistake, and it’s all heading downhill from there.

Actually that’s not entirely true. I’m polite at first, friendly even, but the moment I know they’re not law enforcement, or are about to present me with an oversized cardboard check with a lot of zeroes on it, I will be curtly directing them to step off of my property, lest a quickly escalating series of unpleasant things will happen to them.


I answer surveys of this type all of type. As kunilou points out, you want to make sure they identify themselves so that you know where your information is going. But I use information from polls and surveys every day, including frequently when I am asked for a cite on this message board. If no one answered these questions, we would have no way of understanding the political landscape until after the election, when it’s too late to do anything about it (until next time).

You certainly have a right to keep your opinions to yourself. But I prefer to think that part of my civic duty is making my feelings known to my fellow citizens and my representatives so that they can be useful in devising strategies and reaching consensus.

That said, the time and place of answering should be of my choosing. If I’m busy, or not in the mood to answer for whatever reason, I’m fine with not answering the phone or turning away someone on my doorstep.

I’d take the path as the OP. Cold-callers get a very shirty response from me as I have a sign on my door that clearly states this. If I know it is a cold-caller beforehand then I simple won’t answer the door. I saw a group of Salvation Army doing the rounds last week and when they knocked on my door I just ignored them.

I’ve never answered such a question honestly. I’m not sure exactly why. It’s none of their business who I plan to vote for, and lying seems even more correct than telling them I don’t want to answer.

Yeah, if I do answer the door to a stranger, which I mostly don’t, I let them say enough words so that I can identify their pitch (lately it’s been pest control) and then I say, “No” and close the door.

It’s a secret ballot. Next!

I think asking who you intend to vote for is about about as invasive a question as asking someone if they like Coke or Pepsi. I fail to understand why people get all riled up about the question, as did Dave Chappelle:

It could have been part of a canvassing operation on behalf of Candidate X. If you answer that you’re voting for X, you get offered help getting to the polls. (And possibly targeted with further pitches/electioneering mailer for party allies of Candidate X.) Candidate Y voter, you get crossed off the list as a lost cause. Undecided or leaning, you get a different pitch/mailer.
I don’t view this activity as inherently bad, if that’s what it is, and if it’s conducted in a polite way (no ringing doorbells with “No Soliciting” signs, for example). The ballot’s secret, but persuading voters – both to vote for Candidate X, and to vote at all – is an important part of democracy, and it makes sense to target a campaign’s efforts at people who might respond positively. I honestly see no problem with it as described in the OP. (Though like any human activity, you can make it a problem by doing it in a jerkish or dishonest fashion.) And answering “none of your business” is fine, too.
(The only time I was home to receive one of these visits was during a primary campaign. Living at the same address as a registered Democrat, so I’m sure that’s why they came by, looking for her. They asked if I was registered, and for which party. When I answered “Green,”* they said “Thank you,” made a note on the clipboard, and walked away.)
*Yes, I was a registered Green for years, out of 18-year-old-idealism and a subsequent decade and a half of laziness about changing it. This visit took place before the California primary system went all jungle-style, too. Party registration is meaningless for off-presidential-year primary elections in CA these days.

“Warning: vendors will be pelted with blouses?”

I agree. I like being able to read and analyze information from polls, so I try to help the pollsters out. (More selfishly, I also want the world to know that there ARE people with my political beliefs living in my area, because I figure people I agree with are more likely to run for office if they believe they have more than a snowball’s chance in hell of winning, and national party organizations are more likely to kick some money in their direction.)

I’ve done plenty of canvassing like that. The person would have probably given you information on absentee ballots or a ride to the polls, or informed you that the polling station is no longer at the elementary school, it’s now at the library.

On some days I feel confident/combative enough to go this road, usually I’m reclusive and paranoid. In fact, on some subjects like fossil fuel extraction I have zero patience for the fossil people (Colorado Prop 112) who say crap like not being allowed to drill within 500 feet of schools and homes will bankrupt their industry and cause massive job losses. Really? If things are getting that tight, then reallocate your business’ resources to clean renewables and retrain those employees you care so much about.

Sure, two main reasons.

  1. As a statistician I have to support the solidarity of making N as large as possible.
  2. Politicians use these surveys to gauge popular support of policies, so answering surveys provides a slight push in the direction of the conforming the world to my preference.

I’d be tempted to reply “You are representing candidate X – well I plan on voting for the canditate who bothers me the least – I am now planning on voting for candidate Y”


Huh. My experience has been the opposite. If they’re from Candidate X and I say I’m voting for X, they just thank me and encourage me to be sure to vote. If I say Y, I get gentle “were you aware that X is the greatest thing since sliced bread” prompts as if the reason I favor Y is I’m unaware of how amazingly awesome X is. Now I just say X regardless of my true feelings so they’ll leave quickly. ( And hey, if I really favor Y, now X’s polling is skewed too high and X might get complacent :smiley: )

I like it

If they come to my door, call me, or mail me, then no, they don’t get an answer. How I vote is my business.

If it’s an anonymous poll, I might answer them, depending on if their questions are worded to be neutral or have an obvious tilt to them.

I got a piece of mail today that showed how often I vote. The fact that even that bit of information about my voting is available to the public pisses me off.

I’ll just note the irony of this being offered as a poll.