Kathy Shaidle

Polls show that most polls are stupid

Posted on March 30 2010 12:00 pm
Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury, now entering its 11th year online. Her latest book is Acoustic Ladylandkathy shaidle, which Mark Steyn calls "a must-read."
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Media Matters has been crowing about a survey that’s been widely reported upon by the left:

A Harris poll released on March 24 found that a majority of Republican respondents believe that President Obama “is a socialist,” “wants to take away Americans’ right to own guns,” “is a Muslim,” “wants to turn over the sovereignty of the United States to a one world government,” and “has done many things that are unconstitutional.” The findings follow a year of such smears and attacks on Obama by conservatives.

I checked, and so far, the George Soros Steno Pool hasn’t printed a retraction or correction, despite the fact that the decidedly non-right wing Columbia Journalism Review questioned the poll’s methodology in a lengthy, must-read post:

Gary Langer, the polling director for ABC News (…) clearly summarizes various shortcomings of the poll, from its approach to sampling to the way it persistently pushed respondents toward more extreme positions through “a highly manipulative approach to questionnaire design.”

But wait, there’s more!

Langer’s post doubles as a helpful primer on polling methodology, but even for those not interested in the arcane, there were plenty of red flags here. As Avlon wrote in his item, the poll was “inspired in part by my new book Wingnuts.” (The full title is Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.)

Yeah, cuz books like that are SO reliable.

Remember 101 People Who Are Really Screwing America? That was the source of some of those fake “racist” quotes attributed to Rush Limbaugh — the ones that cost him an NFL franchise a while back.

I’ll leave the last word to CJR:

What are the consequences of this? Well, for one thing it seems likely to, if anything, entrench the environment of “fear and hate” these writers are decrying: even as Avlon worries over “hyper-partisanship,” he’s feeding his readers tenuous numbers that give them permission to believe their worst fears about conservatives.

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