How do you rate a dead politician? The most screwed-up political survey I’ve ever taken

I’ve just gotten off the phone with a pleasant but hapless young man named Nate, whose only crime is that he is trying to keep a roof over the head of his family by hiring on to a political research firm whose head is up its ass.

Nate politely asked me if I’d take a less-than-five-minute political survey, and I agreed, grabbing a pen and notepad, because these things often turn out to be blog fodder. And what fodder it turned out to be! Thank you, Nate.

After establishing that I’m a registered voter, almost certain to vote in the August 2014 Democratic primary election [which turned out to be exactly the demographic he was looking for], he said he was going to present me with some names, and would I please rate them on the old very-positive-to-very-negative scale.

First, Bob Satelle. A name I didn’t recognize.

Then Steve Senger. Wait, Steve Senger? I didn’t recognize that name, but I do know, I said, that there’s a Steve Stenger–with a t– who is running for office this year in my area. “Are you sure it’s Senger, Nate?” I asked. “That’s the spelling I have,” he said. “Okay, then I don’t know him,” I replied.

Next. Sam Page. Okay, now I know what election we’re talking about. Sam Page is a well-known politician around here. So now I also know that this Steve “Senger” guy is actually supposed to be Steve “Stenger.”

“Wait, Nate, I’m pretty sure you were asking me about Steve Stenger, because he’s involved in the August primary election you’re asking me about,” I said. “So, I think the people who wrote your script have misspelled his name. And people like me are going to not recognize him if the name is misspelled. And your data is going to be totally screwed up.”

“I’ll check on that after we talk,” said Nate, helpfully.

“Now, next name. Charles Dooley,” he said. That’s a prominent name around here, too, so I was able to rate him and help with the survey. But I’m still chuckling about that Steve “Senger” thing, and I’m starting to feel sorry for the candidate, who just may get my sympathy vote because this polling firm is so freakin’ incompetent.

And then, Nate asked me how I’d rate Kathleen Burkett.

“Wait, Kathleen Burkett? Kathleen Burkett? I think she died, Nate. Yeah, she died in April. She’s dead, Nate, dead,” I replied. “You’re asking me to rate a dead politician?” At which point I burst out laughing [apologies to Ms. Burkett’s loved ones]. “Didn’t anyone tell you about that? This is the most screwed up poll I’ve ever taken!”

“Where are you calling me from, Nate?” I asked, just wondering.

“Well, I’m not allowed to tell you exactly where, but it’s the western part of the U.S. We poll in areas where we’re not involved in the races, so we don’t know anything about the candidates and can’t inject bias,” he said. Yeah, that’s for sure: Asking me to rate a dead politician proves for certain that Nate’s bosses really, really don’t know anything. At least that solves the bias thing, I suppose.

I was laughing my head off, but I didn’t want to hurt Nate’s feelings, so I said, “I’m not laughing at you, Nate. I feel sorry for you, and I don’t want you to get into any trouble. But you are working for some incredible dumbasses.”

“I’m just paid to ask the questions,” said poor Nate, who had endured my ridicule with amazing aplomb. “Thanks for your input.”