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Investor's Business Daily Lies About Impeachment Polls
Here's their article, followed by a letter I'm sending to their editor
By Investor's Business Daily
Public Opinion: Polling, they say, is part science and part art. If so, the art part that some polling organizations are practicing is getting blacker by the day.
Take Zogby International. The last time we visited the "highly regarded, nonpartisan polling company," as its clients refer to it, was early July. While the rest of us were celebrating the nation's 229th birthday, Zogby was doing its patriotic part by releasing a poll on how many Americans think President Bush should be impeached.
Never mind that few outside the rabid left were even entertaining the "i" word. Zogby apparently felt it was time they started. Seems that President John Zogby felt President Bush "did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq."
What Zogby found June 27-29 was that 42% of Americans supported impeachment and 50% did not. The result was significant enough, Zogby said, that he intended to follow up.
Sure enough, he was back in the field Oct. 29 through Nov. 2. But instead of simply asking people if they supported impeachment or not, as was the case in the first poll, he tossed in a hypothetical:
"If the president did not tell the truth about his reasons for going to war with Iraq, Congress should consider holding him accountable through impeachment." Agree or disagree? (53% agreed this time and 42% disagreed.)
The operative word, of course, is "if." As in: "If so-and-so is still beating his wife, do you agree that somebody ought to do something about it?"
Some might call that a leading question. Those in the business might call it a "push-poll question." Whatever it is, we'd say it's inappropriate unless the subject of impeachment has been in the news. And as proof it hasn't, we submit this from the Web site of AfterDowningStreet.org, which paid for the second Zogby poll:
"The strong support for impeachment found in this poll is especially surprising because the views of impeachment supporters are entirely absent from the broadcast and print media, and can only be found on the Internet and in street protests . . ." (emphasis ours).
So here we have a case of an activist group frustrated that it hasn't gotten more traction hiring a pollster to help it get some. In fact, AfterDowningStreet.org admits it hired Zogby to do the poll after a group called Democrats.com failed to get major polling organizations to include an impeachment question in their regular polling.
AfterDowningStreet.org — a "coalition of veterans, peace and political activist groups" — said it continues to urge polling firms to get aboard the impeachment bandwagon. "If they do not, (we) will continue to commission regular polls."
This wouldn't be noteworthy except for the fact that another reputable polling firm apparently has taken the bait. Ipsos, the French firm that America's Associated Press uses for its polling, asked a similar impeachment question Oct. 8-9 (and found 50% in favor).
The media have enough of a credibility problem without professional pollsters, for whom credibility is everything, getting logrolled by activist groups with whom they might agree.
To the Editor:
A couple of corrections to your article on wishful polling.
You claim that Zogby International used a different question (one that offends you more) in its October poll, whereas the question in its June poll had been more acceptable. This is just sloppy research, since the exact same question was asked in both polls.
You claim that "few outside the rabid left" are interested in impeachment (or were in June), yet you cite the responses to the three polls that have been done on that question: 42 percent, then 50 percent, and most recently 53 percent want Congress to consider impeachment if Bush lied about the reasons for war. Either half the country is only "a few people" or half the country is "the rabid left." In these polls 20 to 29 percent of Republicans favored impeachment; are they the rabid left?
Your article focuses its criticism not on the accuracy of the polls' results but on the impudence of the polling companies' asking the question at all because the subject has not "been in the news." A rather self-serving power-grab for a news outlet, wouldn't you say? Congress members have held hearings and made speeches and released statements addressing impeachment. Several large organizations have been formed to support it. Thousands of websites have been created. Groups are holding meetings and rallies around the country. Half the signs at the big anti-war marches demand impeachment. Should the fact that you refuse to write about it really deny every polling company the right to ask about it?
The one substantive criticism you offer of the question that's been asked is that it includes the hypothetical "If the president did not tell the truth..." You claim this is a "push poll." But push polls make statements. They don't ask questions about hypotheticals. And you cannot seriously be suggesting that you have doubts about whether Bush lied about the reasons for war. Can you?
We would rather have asked simply "Should Bush be impeached?" and "Should Cheney be impeached?" But all the pollsters told us we'd get too many "I don't know" responses, because you news outlets have refused to address the subject. On the other hand, we knew that we might lower our "yes" responses by asking about only one of the long list of possible grounds for impeachment. But questions cost money, and we can't afford to buy a dozen of them.
Note that Zogby asked the question on their own in June and then refused to ask it again until we paid them. Ipsos Public Affairs asked it once, for money, and now refuses to do so again, even for money. Harris has refused to ask the question for money, anticipating your sort of attack, but may possibly ask it on their own if they can figure out a pro-bush question to pair it with that has NOT been trumpeted all over the news outlets.
The proper concern here is not that people have been able to pool their $20 contributions and get a question asked twice that a majority of Americans care about. Rather, what we should worry about is the lockdown that news outlets and their affiliated polling companies hold on public disourse.
More information, including the correct information that you missed, is and has always been here:
David Swanson, Co-Founder of After Downing Street