The program, which has been used in five states, was designed in part by current and former Procter and Gamble managers and the conservative group behind it, Common Sense Ohio, says the automated phone messages can reach greater numbers of people in a shorter amount of time and for less money than volunteer phone banks, The New York Times reported Monday.
Democrats objected to the program, saying the messages mislead the public by taking the form of a push poll -- a campaign call disguised as a public opinion poll.
For example, a recorded message in Montana asks people called by the system if they believe judges who "push homosexual marriage and create new rights like abortion and sodomy" should be controlled. The message then informs callers answering "yes" that the Democratic Senate candidate, Jon Tester, is not right for them.
Andrew Kohut, pollster and director of the Pew Research Center in Washington, told the Times the automated system "smells like a push poll, it feels like a push poll, so I guess we have to call it a push poll."