Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Listen to the poll doctor

The Other McCain unleashes his experience on lousy polling.
“Rift in the Right: Many Conservatives Reject the Tea Party’s Paranoid Views” makes for a catchy headline, but when you start scratching under the surface of this study, the stench of bovine excrement is overpowering.

Try as I might, I could find nothing there that told me how the UWash survey was identifying “conservatives” (except by asking people to label themselves), nor was their any apparent effort to screen for likely voters, or to match the “conservative”/”Tea Party” self-IDs to partisan affiliation. When you consider that 20% of self-identified “conservatives” voted for Obama in 2008, you realize that this label doesn’t necessarily mean to some people what most of us think it means. So taking a sample of random adults (i.e., 18-and-older, not screened for registered voters or likely voters) and then asking them whether they’re “conservative,” prior to surveying them on a bunch of tendentious questions, isn’t likely to provide you with any information that’s really useful, from the standpoint of electoral politics.
Polls are such fun to analysis what's below the surface. Many times, it's not what the writer of the story or blog says it is.

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