WASHINGTON — Cincinnati financier Carl H. Lindner Jr. skewed results of a call-in telephone poll on Donald Trump conducted for USA Today, the newspaper said today.
The newspaper said an independent analysis of the call-in results to a "Trump hot line" from June 8 through June 10 showed that 5,640 of 7,802 calls came from two phone numbers at Great American Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Lindner's American Financial Corp.
Lindner would not comment, the newspaper said, but a spokeswoman for him said the calls were made because Lindner and others at the company admire Trump's "entrepreneurial spirit."
The newspaper said it studied phone records generated by Airdata Inc., a call-in service company, because of some apparent last-minute ballot-stuffing. From 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. EDT on June 10, the final hour of the three-day call-in period, more than 1,000 calls poured in. Ninety-three percent of those calls were pro-Trump, the newspaper said.
Callers were asked to say which statement they agreed with: "Donald Trump symbolizes what makes the USA a great country" or "Donald Trump symbolizes the things that are wrong with this country."
Trump won in a "landslide," the newspaper said, with 5,215, or 81%, agreeing with the first statement despite Trump's recent financial and marital problems.
The second statement got 1,191 votes, or 19% of the 6,406 callers who cast votes, the newspaper said.
The newspaper quoted a statement from the Lindner organization that said Trump was an example of the entrepreneurial spirit that builds businesses and creates jobs. "We feel that the intent of this survey seemed to have been to have a good laugh at someone's misfortune," the statement said.
The newspaper called such surveys "strictly for fun" and "unscientific."
It added that it will take steps to prevent such skewed results in the future, while guaranteeing callers' privacy.