Working for The Enemy, Part II

For those of you who have been waiting with breathless anticipation for several weeks, I now proudly offer you the second chapter in our story.  On the other hand, if you have not read Part I yet, I encourage you to do so first.  Well, on we go!

I began my employment with Cooper & Secrest in January of 2003.  Prior to this time, since graduating from William & Mary, I had been working at a law office in Harrisonburg.  Although I learned a good deal from my time in that surrounding, as stated earlier, I kept yearning to immerse myself in the political waters.  Knowing my love of politics (as well as the fact that he was searching for a roommate), a friend of mine who was already working at Cooper suggested that I apply.  As you could imagine, I pounced upon the chance to be a political pollster.  With a nice crisp resume in hand listing my work experiences, my fancy college knowledge, and my volunteer experience with various Republican Parties, I did my best to wow the supervisor.  And so they hired me.

The job was quite simple.  Every new shift, the supervisor would hand each of the pollsters a list of numbers, a script, and a form to record the results.  I didn’t get to make the surveys nor could I see the final results.  But it was an important step in the right direction (or so I thought at first).  After a few months of commuting across Afton Mountain, I ended up moving to the People’s Republic of Charlottesville.  Even though I was working in politics (sort of), I still continued my volunteer time by offering my free time to my state senate candidate back home.  Time used on behalf of a good cause was time well spent.

At first, the job went well.  I was quite good at my task, the money was pretty good, and life in C’ville was an exciting new experience.  Even though Charlottesville is a very liberal city, and the traffic can be a horrible mess, it has a wealth of culture and entertainment options.  Somewhat like Williamsburg, although to a lesser extent, the region is alive with history.  But best of all was that I really liked some of my coworkers and enjoyed discussing the political and religious issues of the day.  Although we often disagreed, debates were always cordial.  But there were drawbacks to the work.  On the downside, the hours felt long and weren’t really fixed in stone as we called the east, the west, even the Hawaii-Aleutian time zone, and points in-between.  Sometimes we would work many days and nights in a row.  Other times, we would have pauses as the company searched for new clients.  As we continued to move from one survey to the next, I noticed that we were working for a lot of Democratic candidates.  I can recall thinking, “when are we going to do a survey for a Republican candidate?”  But we never did.  For some reason, I got it into my head that pollsters were basically politically neutral.  They just sought and compiled data for interested parties rather than trying to sway the outcome of elections.  Boy was I wrong.

The worst began when we starting engaging in push polling.  For those unfamiliar with the term, I refer you to the 2000 Republican Presidential Primary.  During the South Carolina primary, some disreputable group asked voters if they would be less likely to vote for John McCain if they knew he fathered an illegitimate black child.  Now, to the best of our knowledge, Senator McCain has not done such an act, but just soliciting that question raises concerns in the minds of voters that McCain is both immoral and untrustworthy.  So too was the case with Cooper and Secrest.  Now I won’t say that push polling happened a lot, but it did occur.  It wasn’t too difficult to do that kind of polling when I didn’t know the candidates involved, but when we targeted races where I knew about (and often liked) the Republican candidate, it was troubling.  It was more or less tantamount to spreading vicious lies.  On more than one occasion, I felt physically ill after spreading these unsubstantiated rumors.

I then fully realized what kind of mess I had gotten myself into.  I franticly searched for other political employment, but came up empty.  I didn’t want to mention my present employers for fear of how it would tarnish my prospects, but it always came up sooner or later.  While I was looking, I invested my time with Sean Connaughton, the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Prince William County, a man who was running for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor.  I could easily write a blog post or two about this campaign, but for now I’ll only stick to the parts relevant to this story.  After volunteering with that campaign for a good while, I sought employment with that operation.  It took a good bit of effort, but I worked out a deal with his campaign manager.  According to our bargain, if I completed a handful of pre-assigned tasks on behalf of the campaign, I would be able to work for them.  It took me many weeks, and a few tanks of gas as I drove around the 5th and 6th districts of Virginia for Sean, but I willingly and cheerfully completed the missions assigned.  Having finished everything that I was supposed to do, I eagerly called the campaign manager expecting my next assignment.  With this new paid position I could leave Cooper & Secrest and work alongside my conservative brothers and sisters.  I would be free of this albatross dangling from my neck.  Strangely, my call went unanswered.  I called again and then again, but no response.  I sent email after email expecting a reply at any moment, but no reply came.  Days passed.  Distressed, I called other members of the campaign and only then did I learn the horrid truth.  The campaign manager had quit unexpectedly.  When the next manager took over, I asked him to honor the same deal offered to me by his predecessor, but he had no interest.  Deeply resentful, I continued my polling work, desperately hoping for a better future.  Unfortunately, things got far, far worse.

I hope you will join me next time for Part III, the exciting conclusion of “Working for The Enemy”.  Until next time!

4 Replies to “Working for The Enemy, Part II”

  1. As you may know, Virginia is the only state that bans the use and sale of detectors. There is no evidence that the detector ban increases highway safety. Our nation’s fatality rates have fallen consistently for almost two decades. Virginia’s fatality rate has also fallen, but not any more dramatically than it has nationwide. Research has even shown that radar detector owners have a lower accident rate than motorists who do not own a detector.

    Maintaining the ban is not in the best interest of Virginians or visitors to the state. I know and know of people that will not drive in Virginia due to this ban. Unjust enforcement practices are not unheard of, and radar detectors can keep safe motorists from being exploited by abusive speed traps. Likewise, the ban has a negative impact on Virginia’s business community. Electronic distributors lose business to neighboring states and Virginia misses out on valuable sales tax revenue.

    Radar detector bans do not work. Research and experience show that radar detector bans do not result in lower accident rates, improved speed-limit compliance or reduce auto insurance expenditures.
    • The Virginia radar detector ban is difficult and expensive to enforce. The Virginia ban diverts precious law enforcement resources from more important duties.
    • Radar detectors are legal in the rest of the nation, in all 49 other states. In fact, the first state to test a radar detector ban, Connecticut, repealed the law – it ruled the law was ineffective and unfair. It is time for our Virginia to join the rest of the nation.
    • It has never been shown that radar detectors cause accidents or even encourage motorists to drive faster than they would otherwise. The Yankelovich – Clancy – Shulman Radar Detector Study conducted in 1987, showed that radar detector users drove an average of 34% further between accidents (233,933 miles versus 174,554 miles) than non radar detector users. The study also showed that they have much higher seat belt use compliance. If drivers with radar detectors have fewer accidents, it follows that they have reduced insurance costs – it is counterproductive to ban radar detectors.
    • In a similar study performed in Great Britain by MORI in 2001 the summary reports that “Users (of radar detectors) appear to travel 50% further between accidents than non-users. In this survey the users interviewed traveling on average 217,353 miles between accidents compared to 143,401 miles between accidents of those non-users randomly drawn from the general public.” The MORI study also reported “Three quarters agree, perhaps unsurprisingly, that since purchasing a radar detector they have become more conscious about keeping to the speed limit…” and “Three in five detector users claim to have become a safer driver since purchasing a detector.”
    • Modern radar detectors play a significant role in preventing accidents and laying the technology foundation for the Safety Warning System® (SWS). Radar detectors with SWS alert motorists to oncoming emergency vehicles, potential road hazards, and unusual traffic conditions. There are more than 10 million radar detectors with SWS in use nationwide. The federal government has earmarked $2.1 million for further study of the SWS over a three-year period of time. The U.S. Department of Transportation is administering grants to state and local governments to purchase the SWS system and study its effectiveness (for example, in the form of SWS transmitters for school buses and emergency vehicles). The drivers of Virginia deserve the right to the important safety benefits that SWS delivers.
    *** A small surcharge($5-$10) or tax(2%-3%) could be added to the price of the device to make-up for any possible loss of revenue from reduced number of speeding tickets and the loss of tickets written for radar detectors.***

    Please sign this petition and help repeal this ban and give drivers in Virginia the freedom to know if they are under surveillance and to use their property legally:

    1. You certainly bring up an interesting issue. Please note that I would like comments related to the piece on which they are posted, but, as it provides some food for thought, I’ll allow it. If anyone else would care to offer their opinions on this topic, feel free to do so. As for myself, I’ve never really considered the issue of radar detectors and so haven’t formed an opinion. Anyone else have a thought?

  2. Virginia conservative, it doesn’t matter which side of the Devils Gambit you find yourself on. The techniques are all inherently dishonest. You should find the king of political sleaze; Karl Rove. You will learn more in two weeks about underhanded tactics then in a year working where you are at.

    The two party cabal is all about producing and promoting false prophets. It is no place for a man of conscience.

    As for the radar detector ban, I agree with the poster that they should be legal. The problem is that radar is old technology. In the states that allow radar detectors law enforcement switched over to lasers.

    They shoot a beam of light and time when it hits the object than at a predetermined interval they do it again. The algorithm in the gun can calculate the speed traveled in seconds. Radar detectors are useless against them.

    Good luck in your journey. May the Lord be with you.

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