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Polling--Keep it simple!


(Editor's note: This letter was submitted by DaveW to afterdowningstreet.org.)

President Bush's initial reasons for invading Iraq have proven to be false. His administration promised that weapons of mass destruction would be found. None were found. Administration claims that the Iraq regime aided the September 11 terrorism have also remained unsubstantiated.

1. Do you believe the Bush administration misled the American people on its motives for invading Iraq?

2. If so, do you believe Congress should initiate impeachment proceedings against George W Bush?

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Congratulations on moving ahead with this initiative. I do think you'd help the cause by setting a definite goal (nobody knows how much polling costs) and promising to refund donations if insufficient funds are raised to do the poll.

I agree with previous posters that we should look for the most respected polling outfit available. I'd suggest the National Opinion Research Center, affiliated with the University of Chicago. Probably best not to make this an exclusive Zogby campaign.

Now I'm going to donate my pittance.

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Assuming the objective is to get back an unbiased result, you might be well advised to avoid any terminology that requires the respondent to attribute motives to people. Human motivation is not really knowable to anyone except the individual concerned. I would suggest using "stated reasons" rather than "motives" as follows:

1. Do you believe that the Bush administration's stated reasons for invading Iraq misled the American people? (Yes/No)

Or, if you really want to include the "liar" aspect, the following:

1. Do you believe that the Bush administration's stated reasons for invading Iraq deliberately misled the American people? (Yes/No)

I would also suggest that the precise significance of the "if so" clause that prefaces the second question should be made very clear for all respondents. If the second question is to be answered only by those who answer "yes" to the first question, I think it should say exactly that.

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