The following statement was issued by College Station City Manager Glenn Brown after the release of Councilmember Jana McMillan's commissioned poll of residents:
We've heard comments from citizens, city employees, and even from a city council member that they had been called by this automated survey. All described the same thing: The call began with a question about the President, then asked for political party affiliation. From there, the survey transitioned into leading questions about the city that, in some cases, contained inaccurate information. Of those we heard from, most said the phrasing of the questions offended them to the point where they hung up before the call was completed.
The survey results that were sent to the media, who then shared them with the city, did not show the survey's abandonment rate - that is, how many people hung up without finishing the survey. Professional survey results typically include this statistic.
It's worth nothing that, while Pulse Opinion Research is accepted as a credible survey firm, this particular survey product they offer, as written about in 2010 by the website FrumForum.com, did not include participation by any survey professional:
"Pulse will have nothing to do with survey design, or deciding what to poll on. It will have nothing to do with analysis or commentary," said (Pollster Scott) Rasmussen.
This leads the door open for statistical abuse, a possibility that Rasmussen doesn't rule out. "If people were consciously abusing it, it could lead to some bad things. If you were to ask a question that was wildly loaded… you will get a biased result. Pulse is only promising that the platform you put it on will get reasonable results for the questions you ask."
The City of College Station will have no further comments regarding the poll commissioned by Council Member McMillan.