Some observations on Mr Forman's campaign and, where relevant, on those of other candidates.
Those who fear that Mr Forman, "not being a politician", may lack the skills to run a truly effective traditional New Orleans campaign will be reassured by early signs.
From the Times-Picayune 02/25/2006
A poll of mayoral candidates made public this week found that only 29 percent of Orleans Parish respondents said they had high "awareness" of Audubon Nature Institute's chief executive, Ron Forman, who is widely considered a leading contender in part because of his claim to a large war chest.
The downside of that lack of recognition, for Forman, is that he needs to become better known. The upside, presumably, is that he may get to publicly define himself on his own terms. Other top contenders with long political records, including Mayor Ray Nagin and Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, have no such luxury.
Forman has been running TV ads day and night for the past 10 days to increase his name recognition. But judging by phone calls received by many likely voters in recent days, Forman is still trying to figure out precisely what campaign ground he wants to stake out.
The phone survey was designed to measure voter sentiment and apparently to influence it as well. Respondents said that in some questions, they were fed positive information about Forman and negative tidbits about opponents -- a technique often known as "push polling," where the questioner tries to influence the views of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll.
Those called said they were asked some general questions, such as whether they consider themselves preservationists and which issues are most important to them. But they also were asked whether they'd be less likely to vote for Landrieu if they knew that he'd voted to raise taxes, or less apt to pick Nagin if they thought he wasn't prepared for Hurricane Katrina and wouldn't be ready for a hurricane this year.
Meanwhile, the pollsters wanted to know if voters would be more supportive of Forman if they knew he had transformed the Audubon Zoo from an "animal ghetto" to one of the nation's most successful zoos. And so on.
There was at least one effort to test the effectiveness of attacks on Forman as well: Voters were asked whether they were bothered by his high-profile support of former Mayor Marc Morial's unsuccessful effort in 2001 to run for a third term.
Bill Kearney, a strategist with the Forman campaign, said the poll, conducted by Celinda Lake, a Washington-based pollster, was standard operating procedure.
"You test not only the candidate but their weaknesses and their strengths," he said.
A push poll is a political campaign technique in which an individual or organization attempts to influence or alter the view of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll. Push polls are generally viewed as a form of negative campaigning. The term is also sometimes used incorrectly to refer to legitimate polls which test political messages, some of which may be negative. Push polling has been condemned by the American Association of Political Consultants.
The mildest forms of push polling are designed merely to remind voters of a particular issue. For instance, a push poll might ask respondents to rank candidates based on their support of abortion in order to get voters thinking about that issue.
More negative are attacks on another candidate by using polls. These attacks often contain information with little or no basis in fact.
True push polls tend to be very short, with only a handful of questions, so as to make as many calls as possible. The data obtained is discarded rather than analyzed