Mark Palko catches step 1 of what appears to be a public relations campaign by the oil company BP:


The plan, I assume, is for them to take what responses they get and then issue a news release showing what proportion of Americans hold these positive views about BP. Or maybe there’s some other plan for this, I dunno.

The funny thing is, BP could quite possibly get pretty good results using a legit poll. A few years ago, Pew Research did a (legit) poll and found that corporations were pretty popular. Oil companies not so much, true, but still, now that gas prices are low, I think it would be the right time for BP to put a question on a real poll rather than that fake-o thing.

P.S. This is relevant to political science because various organizations use such tactics to attempt to influence public opinion, the news media and policymakers.

P.P.S. John Stineman of Strategic Elements LLC in West Des Moines, Iowa, adds:

One of the commenters ventured a guess that it may be an effort to list-build. I think that’s probably on the mark. I’ve been in public affairs consulting for fifteen years and there is little that you could do with an advertisement-based online poll. However, there is quite a bit you could do by identifying the IP address of legions of online readers that have registered an interest – positive or negative — in energy policy or even a single company’s brand.

These days it’s hard to get coverage on a very well executed, legitimate opinion survey, let alone a mock poll. My guess is this is about data acquisition.

Good point. I hadn’t thought of that.