This story will not surprise anyone who has seen the results of this year’s online polls. The spamming tactics of the Ron Paul campaign first came to public attention in October 2007. CNBC hosted a Republican presidential debate and at the time the Texas lawmaker was receiving 3% in the public opinion polls.
As soon as CNBC uplinked its post debate survey, it was immediately bombarded. A link to the survey was posted on all Ron Paul websites and the campaign sent a blast e-mail to supporters urging them to vote repeatedly for the Congressman.
The same tactic is being repeated this year, and “Ron Paul Polls” has been established to spam every survey. Any website desiring a huge amount of traffic should consider posting a presidential survey. The numbers increase significantly if responders are allowed to vote more than once.
In the CNBC survey Paul received over 75% of the online vote, and libertarians claimed a major triumph. They said the results indicted public opinion polls were wrong.
CNBC realized the results were fraudulent and they removed the survey. The story is told by Allan Wastler, the CNBC Managing Editor:
Now Paul is a fine gentleman with some substantial backing and, by the way, was a dynamic presence throughout our debate , but I haven’t seen him pull those kind of numbers in any “legit” poll. Our poll was either hacked or the target of a campaign. So we took the poll down.
The next day, our email basket was flooded with Ron Paul support messages. And the computer logs showed the poll had been hit with traffic from Ron Paul chat sites. I learned other Internet polls that night had been hit in similar fashion. Congratulations. You folks are obviously well-organized and feel strongly about your candidate and I can’t help but admire that.
But you also ruined the purpose of the poll. It was no longer an honest “show of hands” — it suddenly was a platform for beating the Ron Paul drum. That certainly wasn’t our intention and certainly doesn’t serve our readers … at least those who aren’t already in the Ron Paul camp.
Some of you Ron Paul fans take issue with my decision to take the poll down. Fine. When a well-organized and committed “few” can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of “the many,” I get a little worried. I’d take it down again.