push poll
n. A series of calls, masquerading as a public-opinion poll, in which people who support a particular candidate offer negative information about a rival candidate.
Other Forms
GOP leaders also blamed the Fund for Maine's Future for being behind a "push poll" in the state Senate election involving Jane Amero, a Cape Elizabeth Republican. Amero had charged that someone called residents of her district with poll questions designed to sway their votes against her.

Amero's opponent, Democrat Lynn Bromley of South Portland, has said she played no role in the "push polling." She has criticized Amero for running a dirty campaign.
—“GOP angry about big donation,” Portland Press Herald (Maine), October 30, 1998
A legitimate public-opinion poll seeks to tally the views of the respondents, while a push poll gets its name from its intention to push voters away from an opponent and toward the candidate who paid for the calls.
—Mike Allen, “Candidate Is Assailed for Using 'Poll' to Get Support,” The New York Times, September 13, 1998
1994 (earliest)
Mike Bird and Dick Sargent held their third debate with Bruce Benson Thursday. No blows were struck.

That normally wouldn't be news, but when Bird threatened to punch Benson in the nose earlier this week, it looked as though the Republican governor's race was headed for a Miller Lite TV commercial. . . .

Bird also continues to be outraged by a ''push poll'' conducted by Benson last week in Colorado Springs that was designed to alert voters to Bird's alleged political failures. Actually, Bird should be flattered that Benson is worried enough to conduct one.
—Peter Blake, “Bird still boiling over chicken attack,” Denver Rocky Mountain News, July 29, 1994
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