How to conduct a fraudulent “poll”
August 13th, 2010
Hello, my name is Timothy and I’m from Fraudulent Polling, Inc., a national polling agency. Can I ask you a few questions about issues that you will face in the upcoming election? Thank you.
First I’d like to get your views on some general subjects. Please answer yes or no to the following:
* Do you kill and eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens?
* Do you think that those who eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens should be entitled to special rights?
* Do you think that people should be forced at gunpoint to kill and eat little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens?
* Do you agree that an important role of government is to protect the weak from those who are depraved and a threat to others?
* Do you agree that inhumanity to little frisky puppies and fluffy kittens shows true depravity of character?
* Would you mostly support, completely support, or overwhelmingly support legislators who want to ban the slaughter and eating of puppies and kittens by passing the new Healthy Nutrition Act?
Press Release: A new poll found that by a huge majority, Americans support the Healthy Nutrition Act, a vegan-only bill which would charge anyone who engaged in the eating of any meat or any animal-based product with first degree murder.
Of course that is silliness. But it isn’t that far off the mark of what some unscrupulous characters do to try and convince others that their unpopular views have support. And they don’t get much more unscrupulous than Elaine Donnelly, the extremely wacky president of the anti-gay Center for Military Readiness.
Elaine has commissioned and released a new “poll” that claims that Americans oppose the overturn of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And it’s a doozie. In fact, it’s nearly a case-study of how to conduct a fraudulent “poll”.
And here are a few of the very obvious reasons why.
First, we checked to see who conducted the “research”. The political association of a pollster does not automatically disqualify their findings, but if there is strong ideological bent then one must question whether the poll is legitimate or simply propaganda.
In this case it is some outfit called “the polling company inc. / WomanTrend”. Sounds good, right? Sure, until you realize that the group is headed by conservative strategist Kellyanne Conway (whose husband was heavily involved in efforts to impeach Bill Clinton) and conducts “research” for the Heritage Foundation and other such organizations. Red flag, number one.
Then we looked at the options for answers. Rather than give a range of possibilities, most included only variations of the answers that supported Donnelly’s agenda. In some cases “I don’t know” or “neither” were not provided as an option, cuing the participant to instead select between choices that might not be optimal.
Then we inspected at the language and found it deceptive and dishonest. For example, look at this little phrase in the summary of the “poll”,
Respondents were informed at the beginning of the survey, “Throughout this survey, “gay or lesbian” and “homosexual” are used interchangeably.” Numerous questions throughout this poll employed the words “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons”—terms that are used by leading advocates of overturning the law.
Well, that’s interesting. While it is true that “leading advocates” do use the term “lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender persons”, it is a complete lie that they use it in context of this law. Because while “transgenders in the barracks” may frighten the horses, the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell does not impact transgender people one way or the other.
Finally we analyzed the order of the questions to see if they “push” the participants towards a mindset or a viewpoint before the big question is asked. And Conway and Donnelly’s questions were about the most blatant that I’ve ever seen.
We aren’t provided with the exactly language of the script but it appears that the following questions were asked in this order:
1. In 1993 Congress passed a law stating that homosexuals are not eligible to serve in the military. Please tell me whether you (ROTATE) agree or disagree with the following findings that are in the current law.
1.a. One finding says, QUOTE “The primary purpose of the armed forces is to prepare for and to prevail in combat should the need arise.” END QUOTE
1.b. One finding says, QUOTE “The military is a specialized society…that is characterized by its own laws, rules, customs, and traditions.” END QUOTE
OK, most everyone agreed to those two statements. These are not, of themselves, egregious questions, but they do set the tone and suggest that “the current law” has the right priorities. Let’s go on.
2. I will now read to you the opinions of two people. Please tell me which comes closest to your own view:
(ROTATED PERSON 1/PERSON 2)
Person 1: In considering this issue, Congress should listen mostly to advocates who want to overturn the law and to require the armed forces to accept professed lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in the military.
Person 2: In considering this issue, Congress should listen mostly to the four chiefs of staff of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, who have expressed concerns about overturning the current law.
This question pits “advocates who want to require transgender persons” against “the chiefs of staff who have expressed concern”. A completely false dichotomy. (Amusingly, in the footnotes they praise themselves for not using the phrase “gay activist group”). Not only is this not about transgender persons, but there is no mention that the repeal is supported by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Yet, surprisingly, the support for person two was only 48% to 41%. Those pesky “advocates” and their transgender folk have more support than Conway and Donnelly like. So it’s time to smear the President.
3. In his 2008 campaign, Barack Obama promised that if he was elected President, he would seek to repeal, or overturn, the law regarding homosexuals in the military, often called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the law in 1993. Do you believe he is assigning high priority to this issue (ROTATED) mostly out of principle or mostly for political reasons?
Not too surprisingly, 57% found that Obama’s imagined motivations for “assigning high priority” are the same as the same reasons that our community suspects for his doing damn well little on the matter.
But now that they’ve introduced sinister motivation, they now need to imply a threat:
4. Please tell me which comes closest to your own view:
(ROTATED PERSON 1/PERSON 2)
Person 1: If the current law is overturned, the military should attempt to change personal attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality and impose “zero tolerance” career penalties on anyone who disagrees for any reason, including religious convictions.
Person 2: Even if the current law is overturned, the military should not attempt to change personal attitudes and feelings toward human sexuality. Imposing career penalties on anyone who disagrees would discriminate against military personnel and chaplains who do not support homosexuality.
Ookie spookie. Those advocates want to engage in mind control and court martial those who go to church. Good wholesome Christian kids will be stockaded and chaplains will be beaten if they don’t endorse the radical militant homosexual agenda.
Scared enough yet? Oh, but there’s more. You knew it was coming…
5. The military should modify training programs to promote acceptance of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons in all military colleges, training programs, and schools run by the U.S. Defense Department.
Oh Noes! The children! They’re coming after the children!
6. Over the next six months, what should be the number one priority for Congress and the President?
(READ AND ROTATED. ACCEPTED ONLY ONE.)
Reducing Government spending/the deficit
Plugging the oil leak in the Gulf/cleaning up the oil spill
Winning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan
Changing the law to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the Military
Well gosh, that proves that our legislators are Wasting! their Time! on these nefarious schemes because they can only do one thing at a time. And if DADT is overturned, jobs will be lost and pelicans will die.
And now, now that you know that it’s transgender advocates who are going against the most important purposes of the military and who are ignoring the concerns of military leaders so that they can push this unwanted effort to jail Christians and brainwash children, all of which is motivated by political cynicism, now let’s get your opinion.
7. Would you prefer that your elected representatives in Washington, DC (ROTATED) vote to overturn the 1993 law and allow homosexual persons to serve openly in the military, OR vote to keep the law as it is?
48% VOTE TO KEEP IT AS IT IS
45% VOTE TO OVERTURN
7% DO NOT KNOW/DEPENDS (VOLUNTEERED)
1% REFUSED (VOLUNTEERED)
And that’s how your conduct a completely fraudulent poll. It’s almost surprising that there weren’t questions about slaughtering puppies and kittens.
And amusingly, even after pushing the participants as hard as possible, less than half opposed repealing DADT. And even after trying to scare them with career penalties and brainwashed children, 34% of military members polled supported overturning DADT and enacting a “zero-tolerance” policy.
This is just downright funny. But what do you bet that John McCain ends up waiving it around in Washington.