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42.7 Percent Of Statistics Are Made Up On The Spot


Check the update at the bottom...

Kos released his poll of Republican attitudes (he's doing the polling to support his contention that Republicans = Taliban) and shockingly, the results make them look like - Taliban.

63% believe Obama is a socialist.

39% believe he should be impeached.

23% believe their state should secede.

77% are opposed to gay marriage.

77% believe that Genesis should be taught in the public schools.

76% believe abortion is murder...let's stop on this one, you get the point.

Now there's not a lot of background about the mechanics of the poll (i.e. where did the 2,000 self-identified Republicans come from - the Wesboro Baptist Church mailing list, perhaps?), but the numbers pretty much ring completely false to me, based on anecdote (my own experience with Republicans) and data...

...let's go to the June 2009 CBS News poll, which shows that 40% of Republicans (self-identified, I'd assume) think Roe v Wade is a "good thing."

...the much-derided Gallup poll on abortion this year showed that 23% of "Republicans and Republican leaners" were pro-choice. I'm not sure how you mathematically get from 7% to 23% by blending "republicans and leaners except by assuming "real republicans" are at 7% and "leaners" are at 75% ... plausible? You be the judge.

I'd love to have been polled on this and see what the mechanics of the poll sounded like. But right now, I don't think I'd take it terribly seriously. I can't wait to see the book.

Update: Research2000 has a lot of marcomm on its site about how accurate it is, but the only 3rd party reference I could find (in a very fast Google session that included a fast look at the Wayback machine) was this:
Exclusive BMG/Research 2000 poll: Coakley leads 49-41 by: David
Thu Jan 14, 2010 at 11:48:08 AM EST

(Bumped, because we shelled out BMG's hard-earned money for this. -- Bob - promoted by Charley on the MTA)

The results are in from BMG's exclusive statewide poll in next week's special Senate election. Research 2000 interviewed 500 likely voters on Tuesday and Wednesday (and we do mean "interviewed" -- Research 2000 does live interviews, unlike robo-pollsters Rasmussen and PPP). That means that our poll is the first (and so far only) one taken entirely after Monday's final televised debate. Here's what they came up with (margin of error is +/- 4%).
QUESTION: If the 2010 special election for U.S. Senate were held today, would you vote for Martha Coakley, the Democrat, Scott Brown, the Republican, or Joseph Kennedy, the Libertarian candidate?

Martha Coakley49%82%7%36%
Scott Brown41%12%85%49%
Joseph Kennedy5%1%2%11%

I wonder how these guys do on Intrade?


The fun thing is he probably got that from a "legitimate" poll. I see all sorts of polls with awful wording and ambiguous definitions, where results are twisted to reflect the prejudices of the pollster more than anything else.

In particular, much of the "religion" polling is this way. For example, I'm basically religiously agnostic, but have no problem with "Genesis being taught in public schools", along with the rest of the Bible, the Talmud, the Koran, the various religious texts of the Hindu and Buddhist religions, etc. An educated person should be conversant in the basic beliefs of the world's major religions, and pretending that they don't exist is silly.

But if I was asked that question by a pollster and answered "yes", I'd go in the "Christian fundie" slot in the poll.

Research2000 has a lot of marcomm on its site about how accurate it is ...

Heh. Are you using "marcomm" as a synonym for shite? Or did you mean to write "markos"?


I'm glad someone who is a self-identifying liberal and Democrat is willing to publically call BS on this; as a self-identifying pox-on-all-your-houses independent, my calling BS just doesn't mean as much.

The primary intent of a poll like that is nothing other than giving the True Believers a reason to feel superior to everyone else, and tune everyone else out. It's a transparent piece of social engineering, in that regard.

Predictably, every one of my liberal friends who has seen fit to comment on it has swallowed it whole.

It's a transparent piece of social engineering, in that regard.

I'd call it war propaganda, not unlike Zinn's "The People's History of the United States". Trying to understand the world using these resources isn't unlike trying to understand Japan by reading WWII comic books.

Ok, so I know some folks will disagree with me, but:

63% believe Obama is a socialist.
"Spread the wealth", Universal Healthcare, TARP, auto industry bailout/takeover, dictating to private companies ("pay czar", firing the GM CEO).
Whether or not you think being a 'socialist' is a bad thing, I think it's fairly dim to strongly argue that Obama isn't a socialist.
Does that make me a Taliban?

39% believe he should be impeached.
Pragmatically? No, this is stupid.
But an understandable sentiment. Congress and this president (and the previous one) have broken with the constitution as many common people read it.
This makes them Taliban?

23% believe their state should secede.
This is stupid, I'll give you that. Those crazy Taliban!

77% are opposed to gay marriage.
Civil unions? We don't have room for that in this discussion.

77% believe that Genesis should be taught in the public schools.
Let's tell 'em how Adam named all the animals! And how Eve was born from a rib! And how... wait. That wasn't the question?
"Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?"
Here's a hint -- YES. I learned this in high school. Along with the life of Buddha, the Hindu faith, Islamic pillars, etc.

76% believe abortion is murder
Late term abortions: are you really comfortable not calling these murder?
Partial birth?
Heartbeat present?
I can't believe that someone as intelligent and "intellectual" as you would really take someone to task for believing something different, especially on such a controversial issue.

...let's stop on this one, you get the point.
No, I don't. You do a bad job of selecting 'shock' questions to display here. And by implication, you're insulting entire swaths of the American public!

Is Taliban the new Nazi, Marc?

Regardless of the republicans you know, I don't believe that you really let yourself walk a mile in their worldview, much less understand it, otherwise I believe you would be more careful about what you say.

Chris’ reaction was pretty close to mine. I was a little surprised to see AL suggesting that answering “yes” to these questions makes one the equivalent of the Taliban. Usually AL’s pretty good at avoiding these sorts of false equivalencies and the rest of his post is pretty critical of Kos’ tactics. Perhaps Chris and I are misreading AL’s comment and he could clarify it for us?

Chris, do you actually know any self-identifying American socialists?

I do. Not one of them is happy with Obama, because not one of them thinks he goes anywhere near far enough.

Entertainingly, there is a site poll on a Daily Kos diary thing in which 62% of the respondents say "I like secession as an option, so let's pick a state to move to."

And as a final closing note on this topic, I offer up the following link, to a solid, academic investigation of the poll under discussion.

It's not that hard to pick the poll apart, but it's useful to see it done by academic political scientists. And anyway, I find that blog to be very consistently interesting.

Marcus -

This whole line is a bit off topic, but I'll address it.

No, I can't make a slam dunk case for Obama as a socialist. We're talking about a man's beliefs, and short of a clear and consistent statement from the man, those are hard to pin down definitively. Especially in a politician.

But this topic is addressing people's beliefs. And I, among many others, believe that at his core, Obama is a socialist; that he believes in the philosophy of socialism.

That does not make us ridiculous, or "Taliban." That was half of my point.

The other half is, by implication, that Marc is really out of touch with "republicans," because as I (hopefully decently) outlined above, reasonable people have fair cause to believe most of the points that Marc calls into question here as radically backwards and un-progressive.

As a final note, I think the suggestion that "Socialists aren't happy with Obama [so, by implication, he must not be a socialist]" is quite weak. The phrase "political suicide" means something. Just because Obama doesn't tack hard Socialist does not mean he does not believe in the philosophy. He's a politician, not a philosopher.


Not to worry about the validity of the polling methodolgy, says Chris, "We believe these things . . .and we're proud of it!"

This points to another problem with this kind of polling--it is utterly inane. What meaning does "socialist" have when it is used to label something like TARP? TARP, of course, was put in place by Bush/Paulson, not Obama. Once you place Stalin, Obama, Bush, and Paulson in the same category, I suggest you no longer have a meaningful distinction. The same could be said with "murder:" once you put the holocaust, the killing fields of Cambodia, contract killings, and late term abortion (variously defined as abortions after 12 weeks, 16 weeks, or 20 weeks of pregnancy) into one cateogry, you no longer have a meaningful or useful term.

A.L. suggests that Kos looks at this poll to conclude that Republicans are extreme nut jobs. Chris looks at the poll and concludes, what's the big deal, of course Obama's a socialist--he's for TARP and universal healthcare.

But once labels are used so loosely, they don't tell us much about whether TARP or universal healthcare are a good thing or a bad thing. We're all socialists. And that's probably right. Taxes are socialist, the military is socialist, the bus system is socialist, Medi-Care is socialist, schools are socialist. So what?

Each side is using these terms and polls as fighting words and talking past each other.

What meaning does "socialist" have when it is used to label something like TARP?

"Extraction of wealth by government coercion from one sector of society for the benefit of another more politically powerful sector under the guise of 'the public good'".

Speaking of inane polls, Gallup (are they any good?) reports that a majority of Democrats have a favorable view of socialism. Which means Marc is out of touch with Republicans and Democrats, which is pretty impressive for somebody who runs a political blog.

Not really, bgates; there's a nucleus on both ends of the spectrum - on the left, social democrats in the true European tradition, and on the right heirs to the Know-Nothing tradition of xenophobia and religious intolerance.

But those nuclei are relatively small in practice, but I'll suggest they have a lot of 'fans' who will cheer for them - but not really support them when it comes time to vote or support policies.

I'm working on a post on the Gallup poll, should be up later today.


Chris, #10,

I realized a few hours after I posted, I should have been a bit more clear. But, at the risk of dragging this tangent out even farther, I'll clarify now. (The risk is low, because unless someone says something really novel, I'm not going to continue, since it is a tangent.)

It's not just that the socialists of my acquaintance are unhappy with him, it's that they are unhappy with him (as they're unhappy with almost every major American politician) because they do not consider him to be a socialist. I understand the thrust of your point, but in a situation like this, even aside from my own judgement that he's not a socialist, I have to defer to real, live actual socialists to know their own.

Every label that Person A hangs on Person B says something about both of them. But at some hard-to-define point, it says more about Person A than Person B.

I'm thinking this is one of those times.

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