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Pollster Grilled on “Spin” in Missoula Questionnaire During Mountain Water Trial

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During the Mountain Water Condemnation trial today, March 26, Mountain Water Company Attorney Joe Conner questioned pollster Michael Kulisheck over a 2014 poll that showed that 70 percent of Missoulians wanted a publicly run water system.

  • Conner: “You didn’t survey the 1,500 customers of Mountain Water that don’t reside in the city did you sir?”
  • Kulischeck: “No”
  • Conner: “You didn’t survey any non-voters in this community did you?”
  • Kulischeck:”No”
  • Conner: “You didn’t tell people at the back end of this survey that everything they had just listened to was spin did you?”
  • Kulischeck: “No”

The issue of “spin” came up more than once, after Kulischek admitted that it had been used in some of the questions asked in the survey. Conner used recorded audio from pollster calls to point out that at least two individuals said that they opposed condemnation, but that information that was not included in the final polling results. Conner continued to press Kulischeck on why the issue of condemnation wasn’t raised in the lead question.

  • Conner: “Isn’t it true sir, that a factual question at the front could have been ‘do you favor the city taking over the water system from Mountain Water Company if it has to file a condemnation action, that’s a factual question isn’t it and you didn’t ask that did you.”
  • Kulischeck: “It could have been asked.”
  • Conner: “And it wasn’t…”
  • Kalischeck: “We didn’t ask it because it’s a complicated question.”
  • Conner: “It is, it’s a complicated issue.”

Another highlight of the cross examination of Kulischek came when Conner brought up an email that showed that representatives of the city of Missoula were “okay” with Karen Townsend judging the case.


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