After a summer of writing about automated telephone polls, I received such a call myself on Friday night. The first questions all involved Republican Congressman Michael McCaul of Austin, in whose district I reside, and were pretty standard (Did I plan to vote? Would I vote for McCaul?). But two questions seemed significant:

* Do you believe that your representative’s votes should support the president’s policies or follow the wishes of his consituents? If you believe he should support the president, press 1. If you believe he should follow the wishes of his constituents, press 2.

* How do you feel about the policies of President Bush? If you strongly approve, press 1. If you somewhat approve, press 2. If you somewhat disapprove, press 3. If you strongly disapprove, press 4.

I thought that these were two rather amazing questions. They are freighted with the concern of being identified too closely with the president in an election year and lay the groundwork for McCaul to stray from the party line in a pinch. McCaul does have a Democratic opponent, Ted Ankrum, in November, but he should win re-election comfortably.

FYI: I pressed 2 and 3.