Another Unsightly Telephone Poll
Don’t put too much into this thing…

Another Unsightly Telephone Poll
Don't put too much into this thing...

A recent Clarus poll was apparently designed to promote the candidacies of moderate Mitt Romney and a liberal mayor, Republican Michael Bloomberg, and diss Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin. 

Just below, has to be one of the worst polling questions in the history of presidential politics.

If you had to pick between the two––would you prefer the next Republican presidential candidate be a moderate conservative who has a good chance of beating Barack Obama …or… someone who is an outspoken conservative who has only a fair chance of beating Barack Obama?

It is unclear whether folks taking the poll were also forced to choose between the following two descriptions:

1. A moderate, pragmatic conservative   61%

2. A staunch, outspoken conservative    29%

How do I loathe thee?   Let me count the ways.

1. The initial premise is flawed.  Whenever a poll question forces you to choose, (“had to pick”) it is quite certain you are being had. 

2. The question pairs ideas in a manner deliberately created to push one kind of candidate over another.  Notice that the moderate candidate is presented as having a good chance to beat Obama while the conservative is only given a fair chance.  If a respondent to the poll believed that the conservative had a better chance they would have no place in the poll to make the case.

The poll also asked voters to “vote” in a three-way race between President Barack Obama, a Republican (Palin or Romney) and Michael Bloomberg.  Romney did better than Palin in comparative races, for obvious reasons.  Palin is unquestionably considered more “divisive” than Romney at this time, but it is quite doubtful anybody outside of New York even knows who Bloomberg is.   This question at best shows a general disdain with party politics, and could not possibly indicate a positive attitude towards Bloomberg.

All of this shows not only the futility of putting too much stock in polls generally, but also the need to be aware of the shenanigans going on behind the scenes. Polls like these are not only unscientific, they are downright deceitful.

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  1. While polling data is often very accurate (assuming that polls are weighted properly), you really have to watch how questions are worded as that can significantly manipulate public thought.

  2. Polls are for puddingheads. We don’t need polls to know that in 2011, jejune journolisters, ludicrous liberals, and rudderless RINOs will be running scared of Sarah Palin.

    1. There are plenty of Republicans already running scared of being embarrassed by Palin. Many of them on Fox.

    2. No one’s ascared of Sarah – Republicans will get rid of the distraction if they ever present some real solutions. Those left of Sarah (a lot more than just “liberals”) aren’t worried about her – hard to say if she’ll even get the Republican nomination after dissing so many in her own party.

  3. Good points, but if I average all polls, it’s still obvious Sarah isn’t gaining supporters. Her support group is much like O’Donnell’s used to be – LOUD but relatively few in number. Sarah is also the first to diss a LOT of members within her own party. Republicans (and others who are allowed to participate in primaries; including independents like me who might re-register as Republicans) will come out in droves during the presidential primary – it won’t be like what happened in Delaware. This of course, assumes Sarah will run, which I doubt – she’d be foolish to trade what she’s achieved for a stressful job (and I sincerely believe her family doesn’t want her to run).

      1. You say “years” like she has been on the national scene a long time. What could have possibly been said to change someone from being a supporter to thinking she is an idiot? Either you are lying or she was lied to.

    1. As if she cares what her family thinks: she told her kids she was running for VP, after all, she never asked what they thought about putting a newborn special needs child and a pregnant teen in the spotlight. She was afraid someone smarter than she is would have said, “No, Mom, please don’t. We need you here.” Ha.

      1. Hadn’t thought of that, but after being mayor, governor the family was probably okay with her getting picked by McCain – BUT they grew weary of the publicity/results (after she literally pulled them up on center stage) and she said they immediately supported her resignation

        From Sarah’s resignation speech: “polling the most important people in my life – my children (where the count was unanimous… well, in response to asking: “Want me to make a positive difference and fight for ALL our children’s future from OUTSIDE the Governor’s office?” It was four “yes’s” and one “hell yeah!” The “hell yeah” sealed it – and someday I’ll talk about the details of that… I think much of it had to do with the kids seeing their baby brother Trig mocked by some pretty mean-spirited adults recently.) Um, by the way, sure wish folks could ever, ever understand that we ALL could learn so much from someone like Trig – I know he needs me, but I need him even more… what a child can offer to set priorities RIGHT – that time is precious… the world needs more “Trigs”, not fewer.”

        I included more than the resounding affirmative because, come to think of it, I don’t remember anyone “mocking” Trig, other than saying Sarah shouldn’t run so she could spend more time with him (same as no one “viciously attacked” him during the Bristol/Willow Facebook incident) – that’s her business and Todd was always around.

      2. Its clear Susan that you have not taken the time to read her books. She talks about these issues completely, and made choices based on what she felt was best for the country. I am amazed on
        how much this so called stupid women threatens people, if she is an idiot, why waste your time putting down such an empty suit ? Sarah Palin brings a simple message- and the American people are listening, bottom line.

  4. I don’t recall you complaining about all thosepolls out there who FOR MONTHS only included a Palin/Obama head-to-head question.

    It’s all polls. PPP, CNN, CLARUS, etc, etc. that are SHOWING Palin has a shot at the nomination but not the general. I would that most Republicans would niminate a candidate who could WIN INDEPENDENTS. It is this group who will decide if Obama is to retire. Palin does worst than Romney, Huckabee, or Gingrich with this group in 90% of the polls.

    You may also want to analyse why she does do better with Democrats than the other Republicans. I call this the put the WORSE FACE FORWARD effect. Heck, if I were asked to chose a Democratic favorite over Obama, I’d be torn between, Franken, Pelosi, and Grayson. Get My Point??

    Romney / DeMint in 2012!

  5. “It is quite doubtful anybody outside of New York even knows who Bloomberg is.”

    Really? If one doesn’t know who MB is, they probably shouldn’t be voting. If they are a Rep, even if they refuse to read the NYTimes for its’ alleged liberal bias, they should still know that this is one of their party leaders. If a Dem, they should have read the Times once or twice in the last 10 years.

    If anyone doesn’t know MB, they are sticking their heads in the sand and have no business deciding matters of national importance, since they have failed to educate themselves in even the most basic matters.

  6. Bloomberg is an “independent” now. He was a Democrat his entire life, up until the five minutes he wanted to run for mayor. As for Huckabee, he’s no Republican either. I don’t want any more McCains who are only willing to criticize and attack fellow Republicans. That’s fine if you like Democrats. Run as one, then. But I want someone who’s on offense for their ideas — Democrat or Republican — all day long. Trying to appeal to the other side and win their accolades is a fool’s errant. The media want Huckabee because they know he’ll be a cinch to beat. The Democrats privately call him “glass jaw,” and they’re just waiting to break it.

  7. Paranoid much Shedlock? Unscientific? Polls are flawed? They are what they are… questions asked to a group of responders. Now, I would question the validity of the “science” if the selection of those queried and the questions being asked were not clearly reported. In which case, it is the readers due diligence to consider these in interpreting the numbers. Obviously you don’t like the questions as it seems the pollsters did not consider your point of view. But from your article I did not seem that the poll was meant to determine degree of conservativeness? participants might want in the white house, they were just polling between two limited options. If you took it to mean more, or if it was stated in an article to mean more than yes, that would be misleading… but not unscientific? This is just another right wing, anti-intellectual hissy fit. A solid and supportable objection to the poll would be to challenge the premise of the poll and point to the missing options. Suggesting that polls are unscientific just shows that either you don’t know the meaning of the term, or that you are using scare tactics to discredit the polls with which you don’t agree.

    1. “it is the readers due diligence”

      Exactly what I am doing

      “This is just another right wing, anti-intellectual hissy fit”

      If you can’t see the bias in a question that gives you the opportunity to choose between an electable moderate versus a non-electable conservative, you are hopelessly blind. It is only moderates that can’t see it.

      ” A solid and supportable objection to the poll would be to challenge the premise of the poll and point to the missing options”

      Of course, that is what I did also.

  8. So if the poll is so flawed, why are you so upset? Palin doesn’t have a snow machine’s chance in Bermuda of being picked to run for anything. I don’t need a poll to tell me what she has been showing me: she is mean, spiteful, vengeful, and not very smart about anything but the marketing of SP and her family. She may be rich in dollars, but she lacks any moral compass and any understanding that a real politician needs to make friends on all sides…2 million Facebook foaming fanatics cannot elect anyone President.

    1. Oh you poor pathetic snot nose liberals, she’s so mean, nasty, spiteful, vengeful. She needs to make friends on both sides. Grow a pair, Susan, this is politics. She takes on the corrupt bastards in her party and she’s going to take on the corrupt dems. So get ready. missy.

    2. Oh you poor pathetic snot nose liberals, she’s so mean, nasty, spiteful, vengeful. She needs to make friends on both sides. Grow a pair, Susan, this is politics. She takes on the corrupt bastards in her party and she’s going to take on the corrupt dems. So get ready. missy.

    3. Wow, nice Democratic talking points. Let’s malign her character and intellect because you disagree with her positions.

      As far as a moral compass, that is the farthest thing from the truth.

    4. I have distinct advantage over you insofar as I actually met her when my team and I participated in low-level (F16)
      training with the Alaskan ANG. I spent about five minutes with her and your take on her doesn’t pass the laugh test. She was surprisingly well-informed on PACAF’s mission, sharper than you can imagine, and apparently from the people who swarmed around her at Elmendorf and seemed to know her, quite likeable.

      Your suggestion, without ever having met her that she is a moral pariah and a dumbass only proves that there is a frighteningly large segment of the American electorate who lives and dies by second-hand information funneled to
      them by a media with a despicable agenda. It also suggests you are one pissed off guy who will always find somebody to hate.

      One of our guys thoroughly loathed Bill Clinton based on the propaganda the right pinned on him–until he met him
      at a hotel and they chatted for about 10 minutes. He was a pretty sharp judge of character and came away with the
      belief that while Clinton could be a nasty character when it came to leading the country–just as Lincoln, Kennedy,
      Roosevelt, Johnson, Nixon, reagan, and Bush could be, there was another side to him few got to see: a man that was disarmingly friendly, compassionate, and just a pleasure to chat with.

      I suppose what i’m saying is, I don’t think many people care what Palin has showed you. You don’t have a clue.

      1. Maybe You are right, maybe you are wrong.
        But it is Funny how an F-16 “fighter”, makes the comment of how the American elctorate “live(s) and die(s) by second hand information” Doesn’t this include the US military? Who else lives and dies on second hand information? Remember the Maine? what about Pearl Harbor? The list is long and sad. Sarah will be great at leading us to war, At least she has nicer Legs than FDR!
        Lastly, I am glad the almighty USAF is training in low level so that you can be sure wether the those guys funny hats are the “bad” guys. Happy hunting.

  9. “but it is quite doubtful anybody outside of New York even knows who Bloomberg is.” For all the ranting about obvious bias, this comment made me break out in uncontrollable laughter. Bloomberg was a national force before he was elected mayor of NYC – before he became the wildly popular REPUBLICAN mayor of a liberal, Democratic city.

    Still, the question seems fair to me – and it makes sense – when it lays out the idea about whether conservatives should/would support a very conservative candidate who is less likely to win over a less conservative candidate who is more likely to win. It would be like asking if liberals would have supported Gore (more liberal, less likely to win) over Obama (less liberal and more likely to win). Seems to me this is a very practical question which could be phrased generically: “Are you more likely to support a candidate who outspokenly wears your ideological stripe or a more moderate candidate who is more likely to remove the other party from office?”

    It’s a valid question for all partisans – and we are in a particularly partisan chapter of our great nation’s history.

    You might want to wake up and smell the coffee: Bloomberg would beat Obama and Palin can’t. Which will you support.

    1. The whole concept of whether one is “electable” or not is a tactic to get people to drop out of the race before voters can actually decide. This is why we have the primary/caucus system. If they aren’t electable then they won’t win the nomination.

      1. If they aren’t electable then they won’t win the nomination.

        Two words.



      2. That was the members of the Republican Party sending a message that Mike Castle didn’t represent them. Delaware is a blue state and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for any conservative to get elected there. Hey you know what, let’s just avoid the whole primary and just let the establishment pick them.

        Frankly I’d rather see a real Democrat get elected there than one who masquerades as a Republican.

      3. We are not going to get every Republican to back us on every issue.

        The best way to get the RINOs to vote for us in Congress is to get such a large majority that they are no longer the swing votes. If we get 55-58 in the Senate, then Snowe, Brown, etc have less power.

        Putting ourselves in the permanent minority is no way to win the game.

        And picking an unelectable “common sense conservative” that is a sure bet to wreck the train is no way to advance the conservative movement.

        Reagan, btw, endorsed RINO Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972. Then Reagan endorsed RINO Gerald Ford in 1976.

        Thankfully he did not subscribe to your “I’d rather see a real Democrat get elected” philosophy.

      4. That was the members of the Republican Party sending a message that Mike Castle didn’t represent them. Delaware is a blue state and it will be difficult, if not impossible, for any conservative to get elected there. Hey you know what, let’s just avoid the whole primary and just let the establishment pick them.

        Frankly I’d rather see a real Democrat get elected there than one who masquerades as a Republican.

  10. Undoubtedly there is often bias in reporting on these things, but as long as the pollsters report their whole questions, this is a perfectly valid question to ask. Then it’s up to journalists to report it responsibly, such as: “When asked whether they were more likely to vote for a moderate or a staunch conservative, x percent of voters preferred y. But when the qualification ‘a moderate with a better chance of defeating Barack Obama’ was added the number was z.” It’s not a biased question, it’s a question aimed at elucidating potential voters’ biases. Which is the point of all polling.

    As long as you have all of the details, it is all just data. It is precisely this sort of information which helps campaigns know which way to frame the public discussion, and you can bet there will be many more polls asking questions of this sort, funded by individual candidates’ campaigns themselves.

  11. “As for Huckabee, he’s no Republican either”

    As to your funny definitions, I can’t help it if you want to make it up. Please show me one pieces of evidence that Huckabee ever registered as a Democrat. “Republican” doesn’t mean all that you think it does.

    1. “Republican” has been redefined by the neoconservatives to mean big bloated federal government, worldwide empire building, preemptive war policies, government big business bailouts, porous uncontrolled borders, religious literal fundamentalism, and domestic policies that trample on American’s freedoms and personal liberties. It is quite unfortunate. Huckabee falls squarely into the neocon camp.

      The good news is, Ron Paul has shown America what true conservative positions are on all these topics. His presidential campaign opened the floodgates of constitutional conservatism, which spread across America since his presidential run of 2007, and was adopted in large part by the Tea Party. This momentum continues to drive policy discussions today at the local, state, and federal levels like no other event in the past 30 years.

      Ron Paul was the right choice in 2008, and he is still the right choice in 2012.

      Paul / Johnson 2012 FTW

  12. I’ll give you the second-worst recent polling example: Sarah Palin’s favorability with republicans according to some amateurs has fallen from 72% two years ago to 42% now–a 25% percent drop.

    Conveniently there was no mention that in January of 2009, 69% of Americans were glad Obama was in the White House. Today , 46% think he’s doing a satisfactory job. He’s actually taken as bad or worse a hit than Palin and his slide has been in spite of the fact that he has had the major media pulling for him while Palin has had a political bounty on her head.

    1. Polls are hard to judge, but there are definite trends. You gotta look at the reasons…

      Obama’s approval is down mostly because of the economy – if the Republicans think the best move to produce jobs was extending all Bush cuts, it’s clear they’d do no better (everyone’s still waiting for years of ANY upper tax cut money to “trickle down” from On High to Main Street).

      Sarah’s numbers are dropping because people are getting tired of her and because she’s got a way of alienating voters like no other. Her hipshots at individuals cause a LOT of collateral damage.

      1. You are correct. For some reason Palin feels she must alienate everybody she imaginable in her bid to please an ever decreasing amount of supporters.

        You will notice that although her popularity at large is sinking, but the intensity of her supporters is increasing.

        Somebody needs to tell her that those supporters, no matter how committed, only get to vote once. She still has to get the support of RINOs, independents and Reagan Democrats if she wants to win.

  13. This “poll” simply proves the lesson Ford Motor Company should have learned from the Edsel: Even the best market research will lead you to draw the wrong conclusions if you don’t ask the right questions.

    Or, I might add, when you phrase questions in such a way as to get a certain result.

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