Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Bad Poll By Deceitful People

My friend Kimsch at Musing Minds sent me a poll she described as “so incredibly rotten you can smell it from Denmark”, and she’s right. Time for a fisking, hmm?

The poll was published in the Chicago Sun-Times, and Kimsch found it via The Capitol Fax Blog, whom I will have to visit again.

The poll, as is the trend these days, was treated as if it was news, rather than spin. The first sentence from ‘Fran Spielman’ reads “Chicagoans overwhelmingly favor wage and benefit standards for Wal-Mart and other "big-box" retailers, even if it places jobs at risk, according to a new poll commissioned by proponents to turn up the heat on the City Council.” OK, first thing you should notice, aside from the idiocy of believing that anyone would rather trash a company and lose jobs, rather than work out a fair arrangement, is the fact that this poll was paid for by people who wanted a specific outcome. Ahem, that’s called a ‘push poll’, and it is reliable the same way ‘Baghdad Bob’ was reliable. And that starting point just hints at more of the same as you go on.

One thing which made me chuckle was the way the poll was described. “84 percent want aldermen to require newly built and existing stores ... to pay employees who work more than five hours a week at least $10 an hour in wages and $3 an hour in benefits.” When told that Wal-Mart says they won’t build new stores if that ordinance is imposed on them, support for the ordinance drops to 69%. Wording on the same question shows double-digit fluctuations in support, not a good sign for a poll’s veracity. Which reminds me; the most critical part of any poll is its methodology. And when a poll hides its methodology, that pretty much means they are fooling around with the numbers. The Sun-Times describes the poll only as a “poll of 500 registered voters ... conducted by Washington D.C.-based Lake Research Partners and was commissioned by the Grassroots Collaborative”. Well, one thing I know is that “Lake Research Partners” is a polling firm which did polling for the Democratic Party during the 2004 Federal Elections. And don’t believe that claim that the poll “has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percent”, because that is only true if valid statistical measures and nominal RDD processes are followed. With no demographics cited, no range or dates or times when the poll was taken, no discussion of method (telephone, street, or how?) or sampling parameters, no evidence of weighting to match known census figures, there is no reason to believe the claims made.

There is a reason the newspaper neither cited the internal data, nor a way for readers to check out the claims for themselves.So, a big city MSM outlet is lying, no surprise there. But as we move into the summer and fall, count on fake polls being used more and more by Liberals, when facts just won’t support them.


Anonymous said...

you should check out the recent WSJ poll if you want a really good laugh.

Anonymous said...

DJ - great job fisking! What do you think of the Zogby poll which shows a Bush bounce of 5 points?

Located here. Thanks.

kimsch said...

Thanks DJ, I just knew you'd appreciate it... ;>}