Were CNN Poll Questions Weighted Against Surge Report?


By: Warner Todd Huston

CNN released a poll on the 16th that claims that 53% of Americans don’t trust the U.S. Military assessment of what is going on in Iraq and that 72% won’t have their mind changed on their view of the war no matter what General Petraeus says about the surge next month. But if one reviews the questions of the poll and its methodology is reviewed (at least the only hint of methodology released), it makes one suspicious that it was anywhere near a fair and balanced method. In fact, there are so many questions about how this poll was carried out that the results must be viewed with skepticism.

To start with, of course, the poll is conducted by Hillary Clinton supporter Vin Gupta’s Opinion Research Corporation, the organization CNN has hired to run their political polling — a convenient situation for the Clinton campaign, to be sure. This single fact alone is enough to inform that the poll could likely be weighted to skew toward the ideas that Hillary Clinton is propagating in her campaign.

According to the front page of the partial downloadable PDF file of the poll, it was compiled from “interviews with 1,029 adult Americans” by telephone between August 6th thru the 8th with a plus or minus 3 percentage points.

There is no indication what party the respondents claimed to be members of, there is no mention if they were voters, registered, or likely. No geographic region is identified, no age bracket and no gender info for the poll is offered. This also causes skepticism. After all, they could have asked all Democrats, or weighted the Democrats to be a higher percentage. Maybe more women than men were asked? Maybe all the respondents were in the environs of Washington D.C., or maybe they were all women in Austin, Texas!? We have no idea as no facts of the sample size are revealed.

Only half of sample asked certain questions?

Then we get to the odd choice of asking only half those interviewed some of the questions from the poll. What was the deal with this? At least questions 28 through 33 were only presented to half those interviewed. One of those questions pertained to how respondents viewed the report general Petraeus would be giving next month.

33. As you may know, in September the top U.S. commander in Iraq will report to the President and Congress about how the war is going. Do you trust him to report what’s really going on in Iraq without making the situation sound better than it actually is, or don’t you feel that way? (ASKED OF HALF SAMPLE)

The half of the 1,029 interviewed that were asked this question ended up giving the following results:

  • Trust him to report what’s really going on 43%
  • Do not trust him to report what’s really going on 53%
  • No opinion 4%

But which half were asked this question? Was the question asked of women and not men? Was the question asked of Democrats and not Republicans? How do we know how this question was weighted so that we might assess the legitimacy of the results?

Further, if many of the questions were only asked of half the respondents, doesn’t that mean that the poll was not conducted among 1,029 adult Americans, but was really only conducted among some 514 adults, roughly half the claimed sample size?

As Duane Patterson of radioblogger says, “It’s hard to take a poll seriously when on the one hand, 50% can support the war or say they’re open minded to change their mind, and then in the next breath say 72% wouldn’t change their mind on Iraq regardless of what General Petraeus might say, because most people don’t trust him anyway.”

And who could disagree with that?

All in all, what we have here is another questionable CNN poll by Clintonista, Gupta, that is possibly weighted toward the antiwar side and one that should be viewed with a healthy skepticism… not that any of CNN’s viewers and readers would be aware of the problems here.

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