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03/19/2007

If they insist on citing this poll, we're gonna keep pointing out its holes

by Jeremy Hooper

 Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images  Good As You Images Picture-2-55-1-1-1-3In a recent piece in which he defends General Pace's "immoral" comments, the Culture and Media Institute's Robert Knight has this to say about the America public's desire to see gays in the military (highlighting our own):

It's not as if the American people are clamoring for the military to welcome open homosexuality. Despite some profoundly distorted polls like the recent Zogby survey of military personnel, a large segment of the American people believe, as Gen. Pace does, that homosexual behavior is immoral. According to the Cultural and Media Institute's National Cultural Values Survey released on March 7, which polled 2,000 demographically representative Americans, 49 percent say flatly that homosexuality is "wrong." Only 14 percent of Americans say homosexuality is "right." The stampede to end the ban isn't coming from the public, but from the media and some liberal politicians backed by the homosexual lobby.

But here's the thing -- Zogby International, while sometimes (though not widely) accused of liberal bias by staunch social conservatives, is a respected firm that has a track record to back up their polling endeavors. And the Zogby poll to which Mr. Knight alludes certainly does show a shift in attitudes towards same-sex-loving military personnel.

On the flip side, the firm that conducted the National Cultural Values Survey, Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates, is a Republican polling firm. That's not an accusation -- that's a fact. And as we pointed out in our cursory analysis of this poll, the Republican firm states as one of their missions: "Our goal is to ensure that the perceptions that surround our clients and influence their stakeholders are consistent with reality and our clients' desired business or political objectives." Now call us skeptics if you wish, but that last line makes us take pause. It would seem that a polling firm should be adamant about seeking ONLY reality, not reality that is informed by "our clients' desired business or political objectives."

(Click here for more analysis of FMA/ the "values" survey)

We knew when we first saw this poll pop up that is would become one of those things that social conservatives like Mr. Knight would just start citing with regularity, in hopes that others would fail to look at it objectively. After all, our own unscientific poll shows that analyzing survey results is "boring as shit" and less that .03% of the population actually has the motivation to pour over the data and see where discrepancy and bias may lie (in more ways than one). However, we do analyze poll results and we do ask questions about their methodology. And while we do believe that virtually no poll can be trusted implicitly, the one conducted by our conservatives friends would seem to be about as trustworthy as a paper-maché parachute that the plane jumper accidently left in his car.
The View from the bottom [WND]
*Earlier: Poll: Likely contains more bias than if conducted 'by us' [G-A-Y]

***It should also be noted that the Zogby poll (pdf) contains one critical line that the CMI poll (pdf) does not: "...all recruitment methodologies fully comply with CASRO guidelines." Ya see, CASRO is the trade association of survey research organizations, which works to ensure that the data collection is ethical and and accurate. So again, call us nutty, but we'd be much more inclined to trust such checked data rather than that which goes unverified.

***Oh, and also -- this is actual imagery from the CMI survey:
Picture 5-48Picture 6-56
And yes, in that first image, that is a picture of someone LITERALLY hugging a tree and one of an androgynous performer, juxtaposed with images showing a church, flag, and smiling "traditional" family. Hmmm...didn't we see the same imagery used by the American Family Association recently?

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Your thoughts

I'm not sure how much of a place polling has in matters of right or wrong. Before the civil war I'm sure polling would have shown that about half the country thought slavery was morally just fine and they could have backed up that "insight" by quoting scripture.

Posted by: Paul Martin | Mar 19, 2007 10:41:58 AM

Oh, absolutely. Even in 100% accurate data, majority opinion doesn't prove that the majority is right. This is something we've touched on many times in the past and will continue to touch on in the future. However, the case here is that this poll looks HIGHLY suspect, and we're already starting to see the social conservatives casually citing its data as if it were infallible.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 19, 2007 10:45:20 AM

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