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American Association for Public Opinion Research

AAPOR Letter to the RNC

January 25, 2010

Mr. Michael Steele
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Dear Mr. Steele:

I write on behalf of the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR), an organization of more than 2000 leading survey researchers. AAPOR’s membership includes people of all political persuasions. We are united in the aim to uphold the integrity of public opinion and survey research.

Recently, a number of our members have received a mailing from the RNC, a “2010 Congressional District Census,” which has apparently been widely distributed around the country. The mailing purports to be a research effort, but it is certainly an effort to raise money. We strongly oppose the RNC’s fund raising under the guise of research, just as we oppose this activity by any political party or interest. This practice trades on the good name of legitimate scientific research to collect donations. At the same time, it undercuts the reputation of genuine research, as prospective respondents come to believe that all purported research contacts are disguised requests for money. The resulting cynicism leads people to refuse to participate in legitimate research efforts. All of us, of whatever political orientation, rely on public participation in genuine research.

The fund raising effort’s use of the Census title is particularly lamentable. There is potential damage to participation in the real Census if US residents who receive the fund raising appeal come to view the genuine Census mailing as partisan, or as just another piece of "junk mail." It is in everyone’s interest that the 2010 Census garner maximum participation. Trading on the good name of the Census to raise funds threatens the accuracy of the population count upon which all of us depend.

I respectfully ask that you discontinue this fundraising effort. I also ask that you adopt fund raising approaches that are not cloaked as research projects. Your good example can go a long way toward making fund raising under the guise of research obsolete. AAPOR very much appreciates your consideration and action.



Peter V. Miller