March 14, 2012
NYC Letter: A River In Egypt -- Harry Reid
Day 1,146 of CHOPE
Mr. Obama's fail momentum builds. Time for some sobering incredulity.
March 13, 2012 (TDC) - Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, called a new CBS News and New York Times survey finding that 80 percent of Americans are not better off financially than they were four years ago "so meaningless." Reid said he does not “believe in” the poll’s results.
... The poll, conducted among 1,009 adults nationwide between March 7-11 via telephone, found that "just 20 percent of Americans feel their family’s financial situation is better today than it was four years ago" while "another 37 percent say it is worse and 43 percent say it is about the same". According to the survey, President Obama’s approval rating has hit a new low of 41 percent. Mr. Reid:I’m not much of a pollster guy. As everyone knows, there isn’t a poll in America that had me having any chance of being re-elected, but I got re-elected.
Except this Las Vegas Review-Journal poll (July 16, 2010) conducted by Mason-Dixon with Mr. Reid up by +7 (44%/37%) over Sharon Angle. Oh, and this Rasmussen poll (July 28, 2010) with Mr. Reid up by +2 (45%/43%). This Reuters/Ipsos poll (August 3, 2010) up by +2.4% (45.1%/42.7%). This Public Opinion Strategies poll (September 24, 2010) up by 5% (45%/40%). This PPP poll (October 12, 2010) up by +1 (49%/48%). This Suffolk University poll (October 13, 2010) up by +3 (46%43%).
And then there was this "funny numbers" CNN-Time poll (October 20-26, 2010) that had Mr. Reid up +4 among registered voters (43%/39%); without the Ashijan stalking-horse candidacy, Mr. Reid held his +4 lead among registered voters. Among likely voters Mr. Reid fell behind Ms. Angle 45%/49% and 45%/51%, respectively.
Except for these polls distributed across the entirety of his campaign -- and probably more our casual research missed -- aside from these, Mr. Reid was depicted as the underdog. [Scoff.] The media bend over backwards to prop up Mr. Reid's troubled campaign. Any poll showing Mr. Reid gaining, much less ahead, was treated as predictive of his eventual win. And Mr. Reid did win eventually. After outspending the Angle campaign by $16M, Mr. Reid prevailed with a +5.8% edge (50.3%/44.5%). Scott Ashijan was not a factor (0.8%).
Back to Mr. Reid:
I think this poll is so meaningless. It is trying to give the American people an idea of what 300 million people feel by testing several hundred people.
Of course that is what opinion polls do. They query a representative sampling. They weight the results. They present the differential landscape of the larger population. Were Mr. Obama enjoying 60% approval, we doubt Mr. Reid would be so dismissive of polls.
I think the poll is flawed in so many different ways including a way that questions were asked. I don’t believe in polls generally and specifically not in this one.
Here is how the question was asked:
Compared to four years ago, is your family’s financial situation better today, worse today, or about the same?
The flaws are glaring. Here is how Mr. Reid would have the question put:
Compared to four years ago, is your family’s financial situation better today, super better today, or so generously subsidized by the government that you don't give it a second thought?
Here is a simple question we would ask Harry Reid, a spitball forecaster, "Are Americans better off than they were four years ago?" To help him answer, we present a few framing questions (with helpful spoilers):
- Are more Americans employed today than four years ago? (No. March 2008, 7.8M unemployed; March 2012, 12.8M)
- Are American wages higher than four years ago? (No.)
- Do Americans enjoy a higher standard of living than four years ago? (No.)
Harry, what did you expect the poll to find?
Ignore the facts to get his point.Posted by Damian at March 14, 2012 03:00 PM