Mass Fiscal, There You Go Again pointed out that the latest Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance “poll” was useless garbage. But the fact that the so-called data presented was fraudulent wasn’t the point. The communication of false information was a success! Mass Fiscal spread communicable deceit.
The proper response to a Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance “poll” is to ignore it, but that isn’t what happened here. A number of media outlets throughout the state picked up on a news service story which largely seems to have drawn upon MFA’s press release. The press release included the poll questions which show not only misleading premises, but a series of biased questions designed to elicit a negative response about the Fair Share tax ballot question. In other words, Mass Fiscal didn’t conduct a scientific survey. It purposely biased its questions to get the result Mass Fiscal wanted.
This is a big, big problem because citizens depend on media outlets to provide accurate information. Here, they didn’t. Most citizens have never heard of Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance but they do know and rely upon the media outlets that ran MFA’s poll. Give Mass Fiscal credit; they have no credibility but they successfully hijacked the reputation of trusted media organs to “vouch for” their – well, garbage.
This is a coup for MFA because while political reporters have the knowledge and means to know that Mass Fiscal is an untrustworthy dark money political operation, the general public does not.
And as it happens the “nationally-recognized data specialist Advantage, Inc.” (MFA’s description) that purportedly conducted the “poll” isn’t a professional survey research firm. It provides voter contact and related services for Republican campaigns.
Mass Fiscal could have hired one of our state’s survey research firms. But then the real Massachusetts pollsters would never ask the kinds of biased questions in the Advantage, Inc. instrument, because they are honest and ethical firms that adhere to industry standards. (Yes I have my differences with media polling but the local firms are professional and trustworthy).
The communication of deceitful information as a “poll” also poses a challenge to the polling industry. Should Mass Fiscal’s practices take hold, the public could lose faith in real polling once people discover they have been fooled. The prominent local polling outfits belong to the New England chapter of the American Association for Public Opinion Research and adhere to its high standards. They may want to consider speaking out against organizations that spread false and misleading information in the guise of a professional poll.
Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance has established its brand. Fake news, alt-news, alternative facts, call it what you will, no one should be helping MFA pass their misinformation on to the public.