Latest biased polling goes unquestioned by journalists

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll that is making lots of headlines, both nationally and locally, reported that opposition to “gay marriage” has fallen to a “new low,” with only 39 percent of the public opposed. It would seem noteworthy that less than four in 10 Americans oppose “gay marriage” – if not for the poll’s biased sample.

As an aside, a poll’s bias can be examined fairly simply, by taking a few moments to examine the background questions asked of poll respondents. This rather quick and painless quality-assurance process would seem to be a no-brainer for any journalist aspiring to achieve balanced, quality reporting. Yet even such basic questions about sample validity are often lost on many political reporters.

Looking at the poll’s results, we find that the partisan breakdown was 32 percent Democrat, 22 percent Republican, and 38 percent independent. This 10-percentage-point Democratic advantage in the polling sample stands in stark contrast with the most recent party ID polls, which show Democrats with only a 4-point advantage in one case, and even a 2-point disadvantage in another. Clearly, a poll that artificially depresses the number of Republicans in its sample is going to find “all-time lows” for opposition to “gay marriage,” not based on any reality but rather on a skewed polling sample.

Here’s hoping that those who claim to be political journalists will act like it when it comes to numbers fed to them by pollsters.

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13 Responses to Latest biased polling goes unquestioned by journalists

  1.  It is interesting to me at how not true this poll really is. Just taking a look at what voters have done across 32 or so states is a better acknowledgement of what the people really think. http://unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/the-truth-about-the-same-sex-marriage-vote/

  2.  It is interesting to me at how not true this poll really is. Just taking a look at what voters have done across 32 or so states is a better acknowledgement of what the people really think. http://unitedfamiliesinternational.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/the-truth-about-the-same-sex-marriage-vote/

  3. jbt says:

    Below you will find the results of the same survey question based upon the random sampling of 1004 respondents with a statistical margin of error of 3.5% for the past 9 years. It should be noted that in this period of time public opinion on this issue has done a complete reversal.  My question to Derek is was the polling also biased in 2003 – 2010 when you agreed with the poll’s findings?

    The trend toward the willingness to grant the same rights and benefits to our gay brothers and sisters as the rest of us enjoy is unmistakable.  As far as the states that have voted against same sex marriage is concerned, the rights of a minority being decided by a vote by the majority rarely favors the minority.  The 14th amendment to the constitution guarantees equal protection to all citizens, not just those in the majority.  What would the state of civil rights be in our country today if equal rights for the black minority group had been put to a vote in each of the southern states. 

    Rights for gay couples is THE civil rights cause of the 21st century.  The Sutherland Institute unfortunately is not on the winning side of this issue—all of their kicking, screaming, and whining about “biased polls” notwithstanding.

    23. On another subject, do you think it should be legal or illegal
    for gay and lesbian couples to get married? Do you feel that way
    strongly or somewhat?

    ——— Legal ——— ——– Illegal ——– No
    NET Strongly Somewhat NET Somewhat Strongly opinion
    5/20/12 53 39 14 39 7 32 8
    3/10/12 52 36 17 43 7 36 5
    7/17/11 51 32 19 45 9 36 4
    3/13/11 53 36 17 44 9 35 3
    2/8/10 47 31 16 50 9 42 3
    4/24/09* 49 31 18 46 7 39 5
    6/4/06 36 24 13 58 7 51 5
    8/28/05 39 NA NA 58 NA NA 3
    8/29/04 32 18 14 62 10 52 5
    3/7/04 38 24 14 59 11 48 3
    2/22/04 39 25 13 55 6 49 6
    1/18/04 41 NA NA 55 NA NA 4
    9/7/03 37 NA NA 55 NA NA 7

    • Michael Gordon says:

      “The 14th amendment to the constitution guarantees equal protection to all citizens, not just those in the majority.”

      Why then are thousands of laws different from one state to the next? The answer is because those particular laws are created in each state and have nothing to do with the federal government and also are immune from the 14th amendment, which pertains to federal law. Sometimes the 14th is “pushed” onto state law, but not always and certainly not consistently.

      I would prefer that “marriage” not be a government function, neither legal nor illegal. It came to be so with the Edmonds-Tucker act as a way to punish Mormons, and recent court actions show that the government still wishes to punish Mormons.

      You claim that the 14th protects minorities, where then is the “protection” for the majority? what happened to the wishes of the majority? Gone, along with liberty and democracy.

  4. jbt says:

    Below you will find the results of the same survey question based upon the random sampling of 1004 respondents with a statistical margin of error of 3.5% for the past 9 years. It should be noted that in this period of time public opinion on this issue has done a complete reversal.  My question to Derek is was the polling also biased in 2003 – 2010 when you agreed with the poll’s findings?

    The trend toward the willingness to grant the same rights and benefits to our gay brothers and sisters as the rest of us enjoy is unmistakable.  As far as the states that have voted against same sex marriage is concerned, the rights of a minority being decided by a vote by the majority rarely favors the minority.  The 14th amendment to the constitution guarantees equal protection to all citizens, not just those in the majority.  What would the state of civil rights be in our country today if equal rights for the black minority group had been put to a vote in each of the southern states. 

    Rights for gay couples is THE civil rights cause of the 21st century.  The Sutherland Institute unfortunately is not on the winning side of this issue—all of their kicking, screaming, and whining about “biased polls” notwithstanding.

    23. On another subject, do you think it should be legal or illegal
    for gay and lesbian couples to get married? Do you feel that way
    strongly or somewhat?

    ——— Legal ——— ——– Illegal ——– No
    NET Strongly Somewhat NET Somewhat Strongly opinion
    5/20/12 53 39 14 39 7 32 8
    3/10/12 52 36 17 43 7 36 5
    7/17/11 51 32 19 45 9 36 4
    3/13/11 53 36 17 44 9 35 3
    2/8/10 47 31 16 50 9 42 3
    4/24/09* 49 31 18 46 7 39 5
    6/4/06 36 24 13 58 7 51 5
    8/28/05 39 NA NA 58 NA NA 3
    8/29/04 32 18 14 62 10 52 5
    3/7/04 38 24 14 59 11 48 3
    2/22/04 39 25 13 55 6 49 6
    1/18/04 41 NA NA 55 NA NA 4
    9/7/03 37 NA NA 55 NA NA 7

  5. jbt says:

    The spacing of the poll did not transfer well in my post.  To see the numbers more clearly, go to this link and scroll down to question #23.

     http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postabcpoll_20120520.html

  6. jbt says:

    The spacing of the poll did not transfer well in my post.  To see the numbers more clearly, go to this link and scroll down to question #23.

     http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/postabcpoll_20120520.html

  7. Scott Bahlmann says:

    I’m sure you will be pleased to consider the results of polls done by local organizations, with more clearly specified options for respondents to choose from.

    39% say they would “..define marriage as between one man and one woman.” in KSL’s findings (https://www.wedgies.com/question/52b4f123b980ce020000054b?source=facebook)

    While FOX13 news has over 70% saying “Yes, same-sex marriage should be allowed in Utah.” (http://fox13now.com/2013/12/20/poll-should-same-sex-marriages-continue-in-utah/)

    Incidentally, I would love to see the results of your petition on this subject!

    • Michael Gordon says:

      As with any poll, one MIGHT wonder “what does it MEAN?”

      You see, one question is about a *definition*, the other is about *liberty*. It is entirely possible for 100 percent of citizens to define marriage as between one man and one woman; and turn around and answer 100 percent to allow men to marry men even though it violates the DEFINITION. Why? Because liberty trumps definition.

      Now when you start taking away MY liberty, then I am considerably less supporting of new arrangements. So here we have a baker in Colorado facing prison time for exercising liberty and choice to NOT bake a cake. Good heavens, proprietors can choose to deny service if you don’t wear shirts or shoes, or for any other reason it seems to me. That’s LIBERTY. What do you have against liberty?

      • SDBahlmann says:

        The situation with the wedding cake is a bit absurd, I think an owner should be able to refuse service in their private business for any reason they choose. It seems we are in agreement on that point.

    • Michael Gordon says:

      39% say they would “..define marriage as between one man and one woman.” in KSL’s findings (https://www.wedgies.com/questi

      Strange, seems to me 66 percent of Utanians voted to define it this way.

      Why do you cite a “wedgies” website if the survey was by KSL? Can you not find it on KSL and thus make it more believable?

      • SDBahlmann says:

        Hi Michael,

        I linked directly to the poll, which KSL has hosted through wedgies, so it would be easier to find. Here is a link to the article that accompanies it, you’ll find the poll about 2/3 of the way down the page.

        http://www.ksl.com/?sid=28099570&nid=148

        My point it that there has been a drastic shift in opinion in the last 10 years, since the vote was taken. The 66% no longer reflects the opinions of Utah’s citizens. Frankly, the matter oughtn’t to have been in voters hands in the first place, since it’s an issue of civil rights.

  8. Michael Gordon says:

    Right up there with 97 percent of scientists agree on global warming. In fact, it was 72 out of 75 pre-qualified responses, out of 5,000 survey requests sent with a response rate of 39 percent (I’m remembering these numbers so they might be slightly off).

    What’s amazing is that if you are selecting the responses that “count”, why was it not 100 percent? It could have been but that sounds fake. 97 percent is just as fake but sounds better.

    Also amazing is how many people claiming to be scientists themselves quote this 97 percent. It seems even sheep can posses a PhD.

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