Polls Archives

The Media Bandwagon

One of the ongoing story lines in this election season is the preponderance of positive media stories for Senator Barack Obama. The latest example was Time’s Joe Klein gleefully speculating what an Obama presidency might look like. (Hat tip: Newsbusters)
Articles such as these should be seen by readers as what they really are: propaganda for Obama. To be more precise, the media are engaging in a technique known as the bandwagon:

Bandwagon is one of the most common techniques in both wartime and peacetime and plays an important part in modern advertising. Bandwagon is also one of the seven main propaganda techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. Bandwagon is an appeal to the subject to follow the crowd, to join in because others are doing so as well. Bandwagon propaganda is, essentially, trying to convince the subject that one side is the winning side, because more people have joined it. The subject is meant to believe that since so many people have joined, that victory is inevitable and defeat impossible. Since the average person always wants to be on the winning side, he or she is compelled to join in. However, in modern propaganda, bandwagon has taken a new twist. The subject is to be convinced by the propaganda that since everyone else is doing it, they will be left out if they do not. This is, effectively, the opposite of the other type of bandwagon, but usually provokes the same results. Subjects of bandwagon are compelled to join in because everyone else is doing so as well. When confronted with bandwagon propaganda, we should weigh the pros and cons of joining in independently from the amount of people who have already joined, and, as with most types of propaganda, we should seek more information.

(Emphasis mine)

Various media outlets will point to that unshakeable gospel of public opinion, the polls, as proof that their candidate, Senator Obama, has an insurmountable lead and Senator McCain should just go ahead and save everybody time and effort and concede the race now even though the voting doesn’t take place until November 4. Even Senator Obama can’t help himself from thinking ahead until after the election. (Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt) Perhaps that’s why he is charging admission to the media for his big victory party on Election night.
The fatal flaw in this logic is that polls are far from perfect. In fact, there is growing evidence that they are totally unreliable. Even though some media outlets will use an average of polls as a truer barometer of public opinion if each one of the polls that is figured into that average is, in and of itself, imperfect then the average of those polls is also imperfect. You can at least be certain of this much: journalists probably aren’t asking any questions to determine the validity of the poll results.
At least signs point to voters realizing by an overwhelming margin that journalists want Senator Obama to win. (Hat tip: Newsbusters) Maybe voters are a whole lot smarter than the media thinks.

New Poll: To Bail or Not To Bail

We have a new poll question today.  Do you approve of having some sort of bailout bill from Congress to deal with the subprime mortage crisis.  If so, what form would you like the bailout to take; buy the debt, insure the debt but don’t buy it, or some other option?  If you have a different idea, let us know in the comment section.  Or would you prefer to just let the chips fall where they may?

The proposed & amended bailout bill failed today, so the question is, what (if anything) now?  This is an open thread (aka “You Cry Out”) on what you think the next step should be.

Polls are opened until Friday night at midnight.

The Dynamics of Virginia

During this election cycle, much has been made of the possibility that Virginia could turn blue in November. But Senator Obama’s success in the state will likely depend on how well he can do in Southwest Virginia. A fascinating piece in The New Yorker examines the challenges he’ll face in this part of the state.
Although the New Yorker piece suggests Obama might have a pretty solid chance at winning here Jim Geraghty’s analysis seems to be far more realistic. Senator Obama is farther to the left philisophically than Mark Warner or Jim Webb and is going to have a harder time making significant inroads here.
One other thing to note here: although polls show Obama ahead here (Rassmussen has him up by 3 points today), the state is politically diverse and support for each of the candidates runs stronger in different parts of the state. Most internals to polls will talk about party affiiliation, gender, race, and other demographic factors. But to really determine whether a poll here is accurate you need to know where the respondents live.
When election day rolls around, don’t be surprised if Virginia becomes the state that ultimately determines the outcome of the election. It may go either way but it’s not as much of a lock for Democrats as they would like to make it out to be.

New Poll: Nominating Conventions

We have a new poll up regarding your viewing habits of the Democratic and Republican national conventions.  With their foregone conclusions and political theater, do you bother tuning them in?  Are you a political junkie who loves the speeches?  Are you a casual observer, using the conventions to gather information before you cast a ballot in November?  Did you know that the conventions were this week and next?  Let us know.

New Poll: The Russo-Georgia War

As I write this, Russian forces are within 35 miles of Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia, and the UN has been unable to come to any agreement about it. What do you think the U.S. should do about this, if anything? Pick your top 1 or 2 choices at the right, and comment on this post about it. For example, if you pick the military option, how would you see that being able to work? (I personally don’t see how, but feel free to let me know your thoughts.) If you say we should not intervene at all, why not?

As this is a quickly changing situation, the polls close Wednesday night. Let us hear from you. Thanks.

Update: Added the “Economic sanctions” option this Tuesday morning.  Sorry, those of you who already voted who would have liked to choose this option.  But hey, it’s just a poll.  It’s not, like, news or anything.  🙂

Historically Low Ratings

No, not Bush’s.  This group would love to have the same ratings as Dubya.  In most cases, based on who you talk to, only 1/3rd of the number of people who approve of what Bush is doing think Congress is any good.

The percentage of voters who give Congress good or excellent ratings has fallen to single digits for the first time in Rasmussen Reports tracking history. This month, just 9% say Congress is doing a good or excellent job. Most voters (52%) say Congress is doing a poor job, which ties the record high in that dubious category.

Last month, 11% of voters gave the legislature good or excellent ratings. Congress has not received higher than a 15% approval rating since the beginning of 2008.

The percentage of Democrats who give Congress positive ratings fell from 17% last month to 13% this month. The number of Democrats who give Congress a poor rating remained unchanged. Among Republicans, 8% give Congress good or excellent ratings, up just a point from last month. Sixty-five percent (65%) of GOP voters say Congress is doing a poor job, down a single point from last month.

Voters not affiliated with either party are the most critical of Congressional performance. Just 3% of those voters give Congress positive ratings, down from 6% last month. Sixty-three percent (63%) believe Congress is doing a poor job, up from 57% last month.

For comparison, most other polls give Bush +/- 30%.  Hating polls as I do, I would only bring this up to counter those who use them as a bludgeon for Bush and his policies.  If popular opinion is your bellwether for whether a course of action should be taken, the Democratic Congress has less of a mandate than the President.

Now, we can debate as to what the poll means, and that can have as many explanations as people polled.  But if you want to claim that Bush is doing a poor job, you must also say that it could be worse; we could have Congress in charge.

[tags]polls,approval rating,Congress[/tags]

Conventional Wisdom Not Looking So Wise

Going into the Democratic primary, it was the conventional wisdom that this would be a walk-away for whomever won the Democrats nod.  With war support low and Bush approval ratings in the tank, it would be no contest.  And when it looked more and more like Obama would be the Democrats’ candidate, the possibility of electing the nation’s first black President is tantalizing.

So then, how is this possible?

With the dust having finally settled after the prolonged Democratic presidential primary, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama locked in a statistical dead heat in the race for the White House.

With just over four months remaining until voters weigh in at the polls, the new survey out Tuesday indicates Obama holds a narrow 5-point advantage among registered voters nationwide over the Arizona senator, 50 percent to 45 percent. That represents little change from a similar poll one month ago, when the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee held a 46-43 percent edge over McCain.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland notes Tuesday’s survey confirms what a string of national polls released this month have shown: Obama holds a slight advantage over McCain, though not a big enough one to constitute a statistical lead.

Frankly, I, too, was prepared early on for a Democratic president.  I thought the combination of history and the Iraq war would sweep a Democrat into the White House, but the polls — first Gallup, now CNN –  keep getting tighter and tighter. 

It’s the Democrats election to lose.  It could happen.

[tags]US politics,US presidential election,Barack Obama,John McCain,polls,CNN[/tags]

Who’s More Honest?

I looked at the “charitability” of conservatives and liberals when Arthur Brooks came out with his study in 2006. He noted that conservatives were more charitable with their time and money than liberals.

Today we have a piece about multiple polling groups finding a correlation between the political spectrum and the honesty spectrum. But before I get to the data, I want to address the issue I have when I say “I hate polls”, which I’ve said quite a lot.

I’ve covered this a bit before, but it bears repeating. When we poll people on topics that they have little to no experience in, the poll is meaningless; no more than, as SCO contributor Mark Olson calls them, a cricket race. “Consumer confidence” numbers are as much (or more) a measure of economic news reporting as they are about how a person feels (itself, an ephemeral measurement). “Who would you vote for”, on the other hand, is certainly something each person can know about themselves for sure. Now, that may change over time, but no one else knows you better than you at this moment. It’s not a good measure of who you’ll vote for 6 months from now, but it’s accurate enough for the here and now, much more so than deciding how the economy is going based on feelings.

With that out of the way, on to the results.

Is it OK to cheat on your taxes? A total of 57 percent of those who described themselves as “very liberal” said yes in response to the World Values Survey, compared with only 20 percent of those who are “very conservative.” When Pew Research asked whether it was “morally wrong” to cheat Uncle Sam, 86 percent of conservatives agreed, compared with only 68 percent of liberals.

(Maybe that’s why liberals are all for tax increases. They figure the conservatives will do most of the paying.)

Ponder this scenario, offered by the National Cultural Values Survey: “You lose your job. Your friend’s company is looking for someone to do temporary work. They are willing to pay the person in cash to avoid taxes and allow the person to still collect unemployment. What would you do?”

Almost half, or 49 percent, of self-described progressives would go along with the scheme, but only 21 percent of conservatives said they would.

When the World Values Survey asked a similar question, the results were largely the same: Those who were very liberal were much more likely to say it was all right to get welfare benefits you didn’t deserve.

The World Values Survey found that those on the left were also much more likely to say it is OK to buy goods that you know are stolen. Studies have also found that those on the left were more likely to say it was OK to drink a can of soda in a store without paying for it and to avoid the truth while negotiating the price of a car.

And on the article goes, with more and more examples in the same vein. Buy why is this? Well, this is an opinion piece (because the MSM would never touch this with a 10-kilometer pole), so the writer, Peter Schweizer, a Hoover Institution fellow and author of a new book on this subject, actually does some analysis and gives us his take, but based on data, not just out of thin air.

Now, I’m not suggesting that all conservatives are honest and all liberals are untrustworthy. But clearly a gap exists in the data. Why? The quick answer might be that liberals are simply being more honest about their dishonesty.

However attractive this explanation might be for some, there is simply no basis for accepting this explanation. Validation studies, which attempt to figure out who misreports on academic surveys and why, has found no evidence that conservatives are less honest. Indeed, validation research indicates that Democrats tend to be less forthcoming than other groups.

The honesty gap is also not a result of “bad people” becoming liberals and “good people” becoming conservatives. In my mind, a more likely explanation is bad ideas. Modern liberalism is infused with idea that truth is relative. Surveys consistently show this. And if truth is relative, it also must follow that honesty is subjective.

Ideas, indeed. Post-modern deconstruction of traditional values did not originate from conservatives. And this is even more important, considering what year it is.

Sixties organizer Saul Alinsky, who both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton say inspired and influenced them, once said the effective political advocate “doesn’t have a fixed truth; truth to him is relative and changing, everything to him is relative and changing. He is a political relativist.”


How Representative of the Palestinians is Hamas?

The diplomatic line typically goes, “Our argument is not with the people of [insert country here], but with their government.” In most cases, this is a true statement. However, a recent poll shows that in the Palestinian Territories, it may not apply.

(Angus Reid Global Monitor) – The majority of people in the Palestinian Territories are against the militant group Hamas recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a state, according to a poll by Arab World for Research & Development. 63 per cent of respondents living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip share this opinion.

In explaining the results of the January, 2006 elections that put Hamas on top in the Palestinian Legislative Council, TV pundits I watched explained this as more of a rejection by the Palestinian people of Fatah’s corruption than of their having made common cause with Hamas’ agenda.

Yeah, well, maybe not.

(Hat tip: Meryl Yourish.)

[tags]Israel,Middle East,Fatah,Hamas[/tags]

Tough Times for Democrats?

Our contributor Tom said recently, "These are tough times to be a Democrat."  A commenter, noting that line, replied, "It still appears that McCain can’t even beat Clinton – with her huge negative ratings – much less Obama."

If you put your stock in opinion polls, McCain’s looking better all the time.

The poll showed Arizona Sen. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Obama and Clinton, who are now battling to win Pennsylvania on April 22.

McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.

That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Obama would beat McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.

Now, as I’ve said, I’m not a big fan of opinion polls.  They tend to judge emotion moreso that anything else, as I think this one does.  Nonetheless, I think Tom’s point stands, especially when you consider, as he did, the primary season debacle.

So now Democrats find themselves in a thoroughly uncomfortable position. Their nominee will ultimately be selected by the party’s elite, unelected delegates rather than by the millions of voters who turned out in during the primary season. Depending on which way they go, they run the risk of alienating a huge portion of their base. They could potentially disenfranchise millions of voters (particularly if they cannot resolve the Michigan/Florida problem). It’s rather ironic that the same party that since 2000 has routine accused Republicans of disenfranchising voters may do the same to their own base. How they solve these issues in selecting their nominee could mean the difference between a huge victory in November and utter self-destruction.

It ain’t over ’til it’s over, right Yogi?

[tags]politics,Democrats,John McCain,Hillary Clinton,Barack Obama,presidential primary,disenfranchisement[/tags]

Survey: Traditional Media Is “Out of Touch”

A new Zogby survey released today shows that two-thirds of respondents are dissatisfied with traditional media outlets:

Two thirds of Americans – 67% – believe traditional journalism is out of touch with what Americans want from their news, a new We Media/Zogby Interactive poll shows.

The survey also found that while most Americans (70%) think journalism is important to the quality of life in their communities, two thirds (64%) are dissatisfied with the quality of journalism in their communities.

Meanwhile, the online survey documented the shift away from traditional sources of news, such as newspapers and TV, to the Internet – most dramatically among so-called digital natives – people under 30 years old.

It’s also no surprise that Republicans and Independents are more likely to be dissatisfied with traditional media:

Republicans (79%) and political independents (75%) are most likely to feel disenchanted with conventional journalism, but the online survey found 50% of Democrats also expressed similar concerns. Those who identify themselves as “very conservative” were among the most dissatisfied, with 89% who view traditional journalism as out of touch.

Traditional media outlets have never adjusted to the proliferation of news outlets and the competitive forces that are now at work. Unless they can make substantial changes, they are unlikely to survive much longer.

SCO’s McCain Poll Results

The poll on whether or not you’d vote for John McCain for President had the following results:

  • I’d vote for him, and typically vote Republican (71%, 12 Votes)
  • I’d stay home and not vote, or not vote on the Presidential race (18%, 3 Votes)
  • I’d vote for him even though I typically vote Democrat (6%, 1 Votes)
  • I’d vote Democrat regardless of the Republican nominee (6%, 1 Votes)
  • I’d vote against him even though I typically vote Republican (0%, 0 Votes)

Now, this is certainly a non-scientific poll, as most blog polls are, and less so since only 17 folks voted. But it does seem as though, as best as we can tell from this, that McCain’s chance of getting Republicans to vote for him seems pretty good. What I found interesting is that the “stay home” option came in second. This may mostly be due to the possibility that we get far fewer Democrats visiting than Republicans, and thus the “Democrat voting for McCain” option is underrepresented (hence non-scientific). And apparently Ann Coulter doesn’t read us, or doesn’t vote in our poll, since no Republican said they’d vote against him. Still, I wonder what the national numbers might look like.

My mantra is “I hate polls”, so it may seem to be a cognitive dissonance that we have a poll on this blog. What I’ve tried to do, however, is stick to questions of what you have done or will do or about your experience. Polls that are generally on topics outside of the typical persons area of expertise (“Is the economy in the country better or worse?”) are of little to no use (and are certainly not newsworthy, in spite of what much of the media would have you believe), whereas a question about your own experience (“Is your economic situation better?”) is worth more as a data point. Hence, we’ll still have them here, and if you have any suggestions for a new poll question, we’re happy to hear it.

New Poll: McCain

We’ve done this for other Republican nominees, and now that McCain has done well on Super Tuesday it’s time for his appearance out poll.  James Dobson, as noted by Tom, has said he won’t cast a vote for President if McCain becomes the nominee.  How about you?  Let us know what you think.

An Experiment in Political Humor Insight

Consider and even try for a moment reading political blogs and commentary from my point of view. The thing is, I think polls are only slightly more indicative of election results then assigning outcomes to random bugs in cricket races. Now, review a few posts and articles holding in mind that polls are silly expensive noise signifying nothing. Just try this:

replace the word “polls” with “cricket races”.

Consider the thought, the pondering, the serious gazes and looks, surrounding the … cricket races.

As you were. :D

You could also remember this the next time you hear the spin and explanations and excuses when the actual election doesn’t align with the predictions of the race, err, poll.

Why I Hate Polls

Alert: Dead Horse Being Beaten!

I just wanted to reiterate that I’m no big fan of polls, and Mark Alexander, writing for this week’s Patriot Post, puts it well.

[I]t is worth familiarizing oneself with the practice of Pollaganda, a propagandistic disinformation technique where political polling masquerades as “objective journalism” and instead advances a liberal bias.

Americans who participate in public-opinion polls about political performance are not political analysts, national-security specialists, economists or policy experts. They are folks who hold common labor and professional jobs in order to support their families and make ends meet. They are thus the backbone of our nation. Unfortunately, a large measure of their perspective on politics, national security, the economy and public policy is shaped by the MSM.

Pollaganda uses outcome-based opinion samples (polling instruments designed to generate a preferential outcome) reflecting prior-opinion indoctrination or cultivation by the media. The results are then used to manipulate public opinion further by advancing the perception that a particular opinion on an issue enjoys majority support. The MSM then presents this “data” as if it were “news.”

I say “outcome based” because most polls reflect intentional propagation of a particular bias by Leftmedia television and print outlets to manipulate public opinion. They accomplish this by first indoctrinating viewers with “reporting” that reflects a particular bias, then conducting “opinion polls” which, of course, reflect that indoctrination.

Then the media uses poll results to proselytize further by treating the results as “news,” which, in turn, induces “bandwagon” psychology—the human tendency of those who do not have a strong ideological foundation to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority—and thus further drives public opinion toward the original media bias, ad infinitum.

Pollaganda, then, is self-perpetuating.

What he said.

[tags]polls,The Patriot Post,Mark Alexander,pollaganda,news media[/tags]

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