New Hampshire is “safe for polling” again after Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) signed a bill that lift’s the state’s restrictions on survey research.
Before Hassan signed SB 196 on Wednesday, the Granite State had an anti-push poll law on its books that the attorney general’s office was using to go after polling firms.
It fined Mountain West Research $20,000 in 2010 and OnMessage, Inc. $15,000 in 2012. Moreover, the state’s attorney general filed a suit in April 2012 against Rep. Charlie Bass’s (R-N.H.), accusing his campaign committee of making a “deliberate attempt to avoid” the state’s disclosure requirements while conducting a poll during his 2010 race against Democrat Ann Kuster.
A federal judge dismissed the case roughly a year later, but the attorney general’s office appealed and the case remains in state court. It’s expected to be dropped in the wake of the law being changed.
Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster and former chairman of the AAPC, says consultants are “thankful.”
“While push polling is a particularly unethical and deceptive activity, I'm glad to see the state acknowledge the validity of legitimate research,” he said in a statement.
Critics said the original law was too broad and effectively curtailed legitimate survey research.
“That original push poll law was intended to prevent deceptive campaign advocacy techniques but it unintentionally harmed legitimate research by biasing research calls in New Hampshire, distorting research results and making it impossible to accurately reflect the thoughts and opinions of the people of New Hampshire,” stated Howard Fienberg, a spokesman for the Marketing Research Association.