Polls Archives


With all the promises of change that Barack Obama got his supporters to believe, we’re now finding out that "promises" are more like "goals".  Or perhaps "hopes".

Close Gitmo on the first day in office?  First week?  First 100 days?  Well, technically, he may only issue an order to do it soon, but it’s "a challenge" to even close it within the first 100 days.  The ACLU wants a timetable.  Good luck with that.

"That’s a challenge," Obama said on ABC’s "This Week." "I think it’s going to take some time and our legal teams are working in consultation with our national security apparatus as we speak to help design exactly what we need to do."

It’s not as easy as some on the Left expected it would be.  The "Reality-based community" finds that facing reality isn’t what they thought it would be.

Iraq withdrawal within 16 months?  Well, Biden has said that they’re going to follow the Bush plan instead.  Additional take on this and all the Iraq issues at RedState.

Universal Health Care is being back-burnered.  Indeed, the economic crisis should be one of the top priorities, but I thought this whole scheme was supposed to save us all money.  If it’s such a win-win for the economy and health care, why delay?  Hmmm.  (Perhaps it has something to do with how poorly UHC is working in places like Massachusetts?)

No lobbyists serving in policy areas they have worked to influence in the past year.  So then, September 2008 is technically last year.

Interrogation techniques that Obama campaigned against may actually get a new lease on life.  Newsweek tells us:

Dick Cheney, who will step down as vice president on Jan. 20, has been widely portrayed as a creature of the dark side, a monstrous figure who trampled on the Constitution to wage war against all foes, real and imagined. Barack Obama was elected partly to cleanse the temple of the Bush-Cheney stain, and in his campaign speeches he promised to reverse Cheney’s efforts to seize power for the White House in the war on terror.

It may not be so simple

This could be another entry in my "New They Tell Us" category.  This was so simple during the campaign, but now they tell us it’s complex.  Nuance, anyone?

All this added to Obama’s waffling on tax cuts, windfall profits taxes on Big Oil, and FISA.  Now, I have no illusion that Obama has become some sort of bedrock conservative (though he’s been seen in the company of some), and we’re still likely to see many a liberal policy enacted.  However, underneath all this complaining by the Left that the new boss seems the same as the old boss is one thought; maybe the old boss got some things right.

How Obama Got Elected (.com)

This web site hosts a poll of Obama voters who were asked questions about the US government and the presidential candidates in particular.  The level of non- or mis-information is truly amazing.  There is an accompanying video of 12 of those respondents showing how little they knew about Obama or Biden, but how much they did know about negative reports on Sarah Palin (or mistook what Tina Fey said as a Palin quote). 

While the general lack of knowledge about who Barney Frank is, or who controls the US Congress, may indeed cross political boundaries, what I found interesting is that, of the Obama voters asked, 86% did know that the RNC paid $150,000 for Sarah Palin’s clothes, 93.8% knew she had a pregnant teenage daughter, but only 43.9% knew in who’s home Obama kicked off his political career.  Only 1 of the 12 highlighted in the video even knew the name Bill Ayers.  And yet we were told that the public had heard the Ayers/Weather Underground connection and, based on the continued Obama advantage in the polls, must have considered it uninteresting.

Well perhaps they never heard the information in the first place.  Watch the video and find out where these folks gets their news, and that’ll go a long way to answering that question.

The Electoral College

[This is a repost of an entry I wrote 4 years ago, in response to a question posed to a blogging group I belonged to.  The question was, "Is it time for the U.S. to end the Electoral College? If so, in favor of what alternative system? If not, why is it still relevant and beneficial to the nation?"  With support for efforts like the National Popular Vote rising, I thought it was a good time for a repost of this. 

Note that the link to the document below has been updated to link to the PDF directly.  The web page itself that had the link no longer exists.]

I’ve actually talked a little bit abut this issue as far back as the 2000 election. Back then, I found a document on the web site of the Federal Elections Commission called “A Brief History of the Electoral College”. It hasn’t been updated to note the popular vs. electoral vote situation in the 2000 election itself, but it is a fascinating and educational look into the issues surrounding the creation of the Electoral College. Read that first before making up your mind.

This paper identifies two main requirements that the Electoral College imposes on candidates for the presidency:

  • The victor must obtain a sufficient popular vote to enable him to govern, even if it’s not an absolute majority, and
  • The popular vote must be sufficiently distributed across the country to enable him to govern.

What this means is that the winner has balanced regional support, even if that balance is tipped in favor of distribution rather than absolute numbers (as it was in 1888 and again in 2000).

The paper presents a number of pros and cons of the Electoral College and is a fairly balanced look at it, although it does come out in favor of it ultimately. I’d like to highlight just one of its points and add one of my own.

Minorities: With the Electoral College, the voice of minorities in this country is enhanced so that they cannot be so easily dismissed by candidates. Small minorities in a State can (and have) been able to be the difference between winning all of a State’s electoral votes or none. Without this clout, blacks, Hispanics, farmers, Iowans, or whatever other group you can come up with can have a larger voice in the matter, and this speaks to one of the ideas of America.

If the President was selected solely on the basis of popular vote, a candidate could simply ignore minorities who’s votes wouldn’t matter in the big picture. Getting a bare majority of the big city vote can be enough to get the electoral votes of California or New York, but then the candidate needs to appeal elsewhere in other states and among other groups of people to win the Presidency. If popular vote was all that mattered, the candidate could just continue to appeal to the wants & needs of those in highly concentrated population areas. This would not be in the best interest of a country that wants the President to be the President for everyone. Thus the Electoral College forces the issue of minority views into the national debate, which is good for all of us.

Voter Fraud: Under the current system, a candidate gets the same number of electoral votes for a state, whether he takes 50%+1 of the popular vote for that state or 100% of it. Thus any attempts to rig an election in a state are pointless after a majority is reached. Therefore, in order to have an impact nationally, the fraud must be widespread, in multiple states, rather than allowing it to work with only a few “friendly” areas involved. This makes voter fraud less of a viable tactic, and diminishes its impact when used.

Again, the paper linked above has quite a bit more, but these two issues are the ones that are one the top of my list. The paper ends this way:

The fact that the Electoral College was originally designed to solve one set of problems but today serves to solve an entirely different set of problems is a tribute to the genius of the Founding Fathers and to the durability of the American federal system.

I’d have to agree.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.)

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Tough Times for Democrats?

Tom, a contributor to Stones Cry Out, a group blog I run, 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?

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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.

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The Polls Before the Polls

Against all polling data, Hillary Clinton barely topped the New Hampshire Democratic primary. The Clinton supporters are cheering, and the Obama supporters are a bit surprised. As I’ve said numerous times, I’m not a big fan of polling, mostly because emotional responses or answer to questions the respondents know little about are quite useless bits of data. However, how you plan to vote the next day or within the next week is something that people would know about themselves. Last minute changes of heart considered, the numbers should be close.

ABC News’ polling unit, however, is calling this a polling fiasco.

There will be a serious, critical look at the final pre-election polls in the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire; that is essential. It is simply unprecedented for so many polls to have been so wrong. We need to know why.

But we need to know it through careful, empirically based analysis. There will be a lot of claims about what happened – about respondents who reputedly lied, about alleged difficulties polling in biracial contests. That may be so. It also may be a smokescreen – a convenient foil for pollsters who’d rather fault their respondents than own up to other possibilities – such as their own failings in sampling and likely voter modeling.

Fair enough. But there’s something I’m not hearing that, were this sort of polling fiasco to happen, say, next November, the cry would be deafening. Basil notes it at “Stop the ACLU”.

The polls were wrong. Very wrong.

And all the Democrats seem okay with that.

But I wonder …

Suppose it was November. And suppose the Democratic nominee was leading the Republican nominee in all the polls. And suppose the Republican ended up winning.

What would happen?

I think you’d hear all the Dems calling “fraud” and saying all those polls couldn’t have been wrong, so the election must have been stolen.

Today, though, the silence is deafening.

The evil Diebold machines of 2004’s Bush re-election suddenly became as innocent as doves come the 2006 Democratic sweep into Congress, and they could have been a factor in the NH primary. And yet, not a peep from the Democratic establishment. Now, for my part, I’m no fan of electronic voting machines; there just too many ways for things to go wrong and lose a boatload of votes. However, if the Democrats are OK with them today, and were OK with them in 2006, there is absolutely no excuse for any bellyaching if the Republican wins in November. It’ll be too little, way too late.

The pre-primary polls were way off, some say that Diebold could have influenced the outcome, and no outrage at all from the Democratic party. Quite a 180 from 2004, eh?

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