Detail of RNC ‘census’ document sent to voters in the 5th Congressional District in 2019 (Capital-Star file)
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
Voters in a key Pennsylvania congressional district could be forgiven for opening their mailboxes last week and thinking that their copy of the 2020 U.S. Census, the decennial national headcount that helps determines how billions of dollars in federal money gets spent, had arrived a tad early.
The official looking envelope, labeled “2019 Congressional District Census,” mimics the look and feel of the official U.S. Census. But it’s not that — at all.
A copy of the document, obtained by the Capital-Star, informs recipients that “You’ve been selected to represent voters in the 5th Congressional District.”
That’s the seat held by U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, a freshman Democrat and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump, who, as a member of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, could play a pivotal role in an eventual impeachment proceeding. Republicans would also love to recapture the redrawn district. It was long a GOP stronghold.
The document starts out asking for a such demographic and personal data as political leanings, age, their media habits, how close they believe their views reflect their community at-large, and whether or not they plan to vote for President Donald Trump in 2020.
The demographic questions are followed by a bunch of policy-related questions that would make even the most brazen of push-pollers blush.
For instance, there’s questions four and five, in which respondents are asked whether they believe the “Democrat” (sic) Party has a “big government Socialist agenda for America,” and if they believe the national media has a bias against Trump and “fails to tell the truth” about Republican policies.
For good measure, there’s even a question asking them if they’d support a citizenship question on the ACTUAL Census, which Trump has been pushing for, only to have it blocked by the courts.
Those questions are followed by more push questions on domestic and national policy. And that ninth question about fears about foreign interference was clearly crafted before Trump asked a foreign government to interfere in the 2020 election.
But, hey, who ever predicted that … right?
A request for donations closes out the “Census,” which should make it clear what the intent of the mailer is.
It’s also important to note that this isn’t the first time that Republicans have used the “Census” tactic to pry personal information out of voters and part them with their money. Similar mailers were sent out in 2010 around the last federal count, Politico reported at the time.
And the intent now, as then, seems to be to create confusion as the U.S. Census Bureau “[prepares] for what’s expected to be one of the most challenging federal counts in decades. The bureau is grappling with factors like a switch to digital and the fallout from the Trump administration’s efforts to add a citizenship question to the survey,” the Washington Post reported on Oct. 1 about a similar mailer sent to voters in Montana.
The mailer prompted officials in Montana to warn voters “for the second time this year,” the Post reported, even as residents were reminded that authentic Census documents A: Are sent by the U.S. Census Bureau and B: Never ask people for contributions.
Published reports indicated that the mailers were sent to voters in at least four states, including Arizona, California, Colorado and Oklahoma. Each prompted outrage and cause for concern in those states, two of which (Arizona and Colorado) are potential swing states for Republicans in 2020.
So if you get one of these in your mailbox, take a good look. Unless it’s from the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s not the real deal.
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What Goes On.
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You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out to Christina Maisel, of WHP-TV in Harrisburg, who celebrates today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.
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Monday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
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And now you’re up to date.
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