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Taking a survey on a snowy night

For the first time in a long time, I not only made it through an entire telephone political survey, but I also – for a change – answered the questions with candor.

It's long been my standard practice when responding to these political polls, that I rotate each answer based on the most liberal perspective, followed by the most conservative reply. I like to think this adds to the polling's margin of error. We all should do our part, to be sure.

I knew from our caller ID that this was a Quinnipiac University poll. With a heavy snow falling and nothing much to do on a Friday night, I figured what the heck, I'll play along.

According to its website, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll "regularly surveys residents in Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and nationwide about political races, state and national elections, and issues of public concern, such as schools, taxes, transportation, municipal services and the environment.

"Known for its exactness and thoroughness, the Quinnipiac poll is featured regularly in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and on national network news broadcasts," its website claims.

Truth be told, I did nothing to jeopardize Quinnipiac's exactness and thoroughness. (For once!)

If you've never had the simple pleasure of participating in one of these polls, I can tell you that there's often a method to the madness. If you listen closely, you'll pick up on it soon enough.

The first thing, as always, was to set a few ground rules by asking my own questions.

• Where are you calling from?

"Connecticut," came a pleasant reply.

• What's the weather like in Connecticut?

"Not bad, about 30 degrees. It's not snowing."

• How long will this survey take?

"Not too long, if you'll let me ask the questions," the lady from Connecticut said.

Touché and nicely played from the colony that gave us The Fundamental Orders adopted in 1639 and considered the first constitution in America.

Thus, the nice lady began her questions and queries from the Quinnipiac queue.

The underlying theme of this survey was whether I thought Ohio Gov. John Kasich should be re-elected as governor and, in subsequent questions, did I think he would be a good candidate for U.S. president.

My answers: Yes, to the former, and no, to the latter.

It's not that I consider the Kasich record as Ohio governor all that good (it isn't), but his opponent brings even less to the table. By the way, didn't the Republicans raise a rather big stink about Democrat Ed FitzGerald's previous choice of Eric Kearney as his running mate? Aren't these some of the same Republicans who travel the world with Peter Beck?

Never mind. Let's talk turkey.

In addition to being asked seven ways to Sunday if I would vote for John Kasich for president (let's hope it doesn't come to that), I also was asked about voting for these potential presidential contenders in 2016. My responses are in parentheses.

Hillary Clinton. (Not just no, but heck no.)

Chris Christie. (No.)

Joe Biden. (See above, HRC.)

Rand Paul. (Do I get another choice at some point in this survey?)

Marco Rubio. (Maybe.)

Rob Portman. (Yes.)

Jeb Bush. (No.)

Ted Cruz. (Yes.)

After these choices, I asked if Utah Sen. Mike Lee was on her list. No luck.

I did find it interesting that the poll mentioned at least seven Republicans as possible presidential contenders and only Clinton and Biden on the Democrat side. Surely, the Democrats have someone of presidential mettle out there who is not named Clinton or Biden. Maybe not.

Another question was asked about the favorability of Ohio's U.S. senators, Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman.

The nice lady from Connecticut called Sherrod "Sha-RODD." I corrected her. She thanked me. I think she was almost sincere.

Of the two, I gave a higher opinion of Sen. Portman.

Less than a year ago, a Quinnipiac University Poll revealed "Portman loses some GOP support."

Maybe this week's question was a bit of a followup to the April 2013 poll about the junior senator from Ohio.

It's also interesting that two Ohio officeholders, Gov. Kasich and Sen. Portman, are in the 2016 presidential conversation. Kasich, of course, is up for re-election this year. Portman is up in 2016

Thomas Suddes of The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer made this observation is his Feb. 16 column: "If Portman wants another Senate term, he’ll have to be on November 2016’s ballot. Portman is expected to run for re-election, and Ohioans tend to give their senators at least two terms. Conceivably, though, Portman could be Republicans’ 2016 nominee for vice president. So one facet of Ohio politics for the two years beginning this November is whether Kasich or Portman is the bigger fave of out-of-state Republicans. And that makes for interesting ... chemistry ... inside the Ohio GOP."

I'm sure it does.

Now, back to our survey.

For this collection of political data, my answers could not be accurately pigeonholed as being a part of any Grand Old Party responses. The nice lady from Connecticut and I had already plowed that ground. Of my political party options, I chose Libertarian.

Other questions on this St. Valentine's Day Massacre included myriad subjects, ranging from abortion, same-sex marriage, religion, and legalizing marijuana in Colorado (and maybe in Ohio).

I mentioned to the nice lady from Connecticut that John Denver sang about "Rocky Mountain High" a long time ago and I didn't have any problems with it then.

"How about those old Cheech and Chong movies?" she asked.

"Is this part of the survey?" I replied.

"No, no, no, just reminiscing," she said.

"About Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong or about marijuana?" I asked.

I seem to have the uncanny ability to distract and/or annoy people. It's a gift.

"What is your religious preference?" the nice lady asked.

"Christianity," I answered.

"Be more specific."

"The Universal Church."

"How often do you attend church?" she asked.

"C&E," I answered.

"What is CNE?" she asked.

"Not 'CNE,'" I said. "C and E. Christmas and Easter."

"That's funny," the nice lady from Connecticut said.

Lord knows, I try.

"Would you support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes and pain management?" she asked in a rather hazy segue.

"Sure," I said, figuring at this point, what the Johnny Franco?

"Are we about through?" I asked.

"Yes, just one or two more questions. What is your total household income?"

"Are you with the IRS?" I asked.

After replying in the negative, the nice lady gave me four options:

• Less than $25,000.

• $25,000-$50,000.

• $50,000-$100,000.

• More than $100,000.

Before answering, I thought about this income breakdown. There are three separate categories for those of us living in households with less than $100,000 in annual income and only one category for everyone else.

For the record, I have lived in households in categories one through three, but never in category four.

As political and socioeconomic surveys go, the Quinnipiac University Poll was better than most. Perhaps this was due, at least in part, to the nice lady from Connecticut who asked the questions.

I can't wait to read the results of this poll. In fact, I'd love to write the next Quinnipiac University headline: Conservative Ohio voter doesn't support Clinton, Bush, Biden, Paul, George, Ringo, or John.

Rory Ryan is Senior Editor, North American Desk, at Paperitalo Publications and the owner of The Highland County Press in Hillsboro, Ohio. He can be reached by email at rory.ryan@taii.com or roryeryan@gmail.com.


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