Monday, June 22, 2009

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics: This Story Has Them All

I watched the panel discussion on Stephanopoulos’ Sunday morning show. George S. and most of the panel kept referring to to a new NYT/CBS poll. They kept quoting numbers for approval of the president’s unwritten plan that were wildly higher than any I have heard. A story at Patterico’s Pontifications today analyzed the methodology of the poll. The poll is pure BS and gun smoke and basically a fraud. Here are a couple of quotes from the post by Karl at Patterico.

“This is what propaganda looks like:
“Americans overwhelmingly support substantial changes to the health care system and are strongly behind [72%] one of the most contentious proposals Congress is considering, a government-run insurance plan to compete with private insurers, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll.
“Bruce Kesler points out that — in traditional NYT/CBS fashion — the sample is badly skewed:
“According to the actual poll data, of the 73% of respondents who said they voted in 2008 only 34% voted for McCain and 66% for Obama. The actual vote was 48% McCain.
“This is a good example of why reading a poll is as much art as science, because the first problem is the percentage who say they voted in the 2008 election. In reality, no more than 62% of eligible voters cast ballots last year. Accordingly, the poll has sampled a lot of adults who were ineligible to vote… or, as often happens, respondents lied about voting. In such cases, the lie tends to skew in favor of the winner.
“Does that mean the sample might be more valid than Kesler suggests? Not in this case. In this poll, the sample identified as 27% liberal, 37% moderate, and 29% conservative. In contrast, last week’s Gallup Poll showed Americans identify as 21% liberal, 35% moderate, and 40% conservative.”

And there is another big problem with the poll that automatically skews the results toward the direction the NYT apparently demanded:

Of those somehow chosen for the sample, “16% was temporarily out of work, and another 10% was not in the market for work. Democratic pollster Stanley Greenberg tells us that those who have been unemployed within the past year (or have an immediate family member in that category) are the most supportive of a government takeover of the US healthcare system. So a sample with much higher unemployment than the national average tells us something about the skew here also.”

This morning Diane Sawyer said about ABC, "I know that our network has worked very, very hard to be completely- completely responsible and fair and serious about big issues." The relish with which most of the ABC employees endlessly repeated the results of this poll leads me to believe that either they are going to tell us that health care is not one of the big issues or Sawyer is a liar.

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