The Dutiful Pollster - From the Continuing Adventures of Mayor ShinnickeSubmitted by electrictoothsyndrome at 2014-01-14 21:57:41 EST
Rating: 1.8 on 11 ratings (12 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
'So what are your goals? What are you wanting to demonstrate?' asked the voice on the phone.
The Mayor relaxed back in his seat and stared at the glass paperweight on his desk. He had already had this discussion with his campaign team and the Party's Central Committee, but now he wondered again if he was taking the right approach. This side of politics just made him feel uneasy, like those dreams he used to have of showing up at school in only his underwear and bowtie. No one in class would notice at first, but invariably the teacher would call on him to come to the blackboard to balance an equation. That's when everyone would laugh.
This wasnt supposed to be his style. He ran his campaign on transparency. Well, that, and the need for a new cloverleaf at that intersection near the classy Expressway titty bar and dirty book shop. He wasn't sure why he thought of it as the 'classy' titty bar. Maybe because it was the only one where all the girl still had teeth. That reminded him, he had a Meth Task Force townhall meeting in Ward 3 this weekend. Mustn't forget.
'Hello? Mr. Shinnicke? You still there?'
He'd been drifting off again.
'Yeah, sorry. Just pondering on your question.' He went on to explain how the team had decided their best issue was parks improvement so he'd like to know more about what the public thought of certain specific planned projects. The reality was he had a couple friends in a local union who had helped in his last campaign and now they had the big idea they'd like to help build another park...or three. Thanks guys. Thanks a lot.
Luckily, most voters respond well to park improvements anyway and frankly any new project would draw attention away from the rest of his record - the perpetual motion machine subsidy, the convention hotel subsidy, the groundbreaking catastrophe, the failure to attract that new barber college downtown like he promised, and oh god, the exercise video. He made a mental note: call IT and ask again how to delete a video from YouTube.
That night the Mayor went home tired. He ate a microwavable pasta dish with what the box claimed was 'Real Goat Cheese' and passed out on the sofa. He awoke suddenly around 4:30 in a sweat. He'd had a nightmare of being eaten alive by Richard Simmons and a class of jazzercizers, or whatever sad people with eating disorders called themselves when they put on tights. Simmons had red eyes and wore a toga. He was lounging on his side, helping himself to slices of Mayoral flesh like some ravenous Caligula. It was terrifying. But at least he finally got some sleep...
About a week later the office phone rang. It was Shelley. 'Huck Stern from Polling Operation Systems is on the line.'
'Send him through.'
'Well, I got good news, as promised,' Stern said. 'The poll is complete and your approval rating is 76%! Also, your idea of putting a park next to the Expressway garnered a 62% approval, and we even got 53% of female voters to say you are good-looking.'
Punch drunk, the Mayor stared blankly at the transparent glass paperweight on his desk for a moment, looking at the distorted text on the paper underneath, mouth agape... He recalled that part in the movie "Office Space" when the main character and his friends realized their penny-pinching scheme had worked too well, and instead of ripping off a little at a time, it had glitches and ripped off a large, noticeable amount.
'Don't you feel those figures sound a little...um...unrealistic?' the Mayor asked.
'Our philosophy here at POS is, the actual number isn't what's important, people generally don't question or focus on numbers, they respond emotionally to a piece of information. What's important are the terms you use in the press release and how positively or negatively it makes them feel. Our research shows that repeating positive phrases in conjunction with your name is what really matters. Get them to like YOU first, or at least think that a majority of their peers do, then you can lure them into liking your ideas. The other key is repetition. If you whip out the poll numbers often enough, they will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. The beauty of majorities is most people love being in them.' Stern let out a healthy, self-satisfied chuckle at his own quip.
'There were a few other questions you asked us to check on,' he continued, 'like the hotel issue, and the exercise video thing, but we strongly suggest you refrain from using that info in your press releases. Just stick to the stuff on the 'Summary' page. In fact, we find it best you don't even mention anything but the summary.'
The text beneath his paperweight was popping out at him now like a sickly-shaped magnifying glass or carnival mirror. A flash of red-eyed Caligula snapped him back out of his brief daydream. 'Ok, I see your email. I'll forward all of this along to Laney.' Layne Starke was the Party Chairman. The Mayor couldn't stand the incompetent dumbass, and thought he behaved more like a needy, obsequious bungler than a real Party Chairman, but he did his best to not let his disdain show. Too few friends as it is, he reasoned. He only wished he had 76%. Hell, he'd settle for 36% at this point.
Let's see what kind of deeper hole Layne can get me into with this one. He pressed the forward button in his email and picked up the phone. 'Hey Shel, can you call the Meth Task Force people and tell them I'll have to reschedule again...oh, and patch me through to IT please.'