Ziegler responds to his critics

posted at 7:31 am on November 19, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

On Monday, John Ziegler launched his website, How Obama Got Elected, and came under a deluge of criticism after demonstrating the ignorance of politics and Obama’s positions and statements among Obama voters.  First some claimed that Zogby didn’t really do a poll showing these results, and then later claimed that Zogby had push-polled to get them.  Yesterday, I interviewed Ziegler to get his side of the story, and later he responded on his website:

While I am gratified that hundreds of thousands of people have viewed (and throughly enjoyed) the youtube video that I created for www.howobamagotelected.com I have been distressed by the general nature of the liberal response (just go to the comments section of the video and see for yourself!).

While I guess I should not have expected much from the followers of a false Messiah virtually installed by an adoring media, even I have been a bit taken aback by the absurdity of much of the reaction to the video and the Zogby poll that I commissioned.

Ziegler rebuts five arguments, two of which are ad hominem and really don’t merit a response (he’s a racist for doing the poll, and he’s conservative and therefore not credible), although Ziegler answers those charges as well.  The other three don’t hold water, either, but at least are arguments:

McCain voters were probably just as dumb.  Ziegler’s offered a double-or-nothing deal to anyone who wants to recreate the same poll for McCain voters.  If that survey shows the same results, he’ll pay the cost of both polls, but if the results are significantly different, the challenger has to pay for both polls (reimburse Ziegler for the first).  Ziegler’s fairly confident he’ll get the better of that challenge, and he’s probably right.

The poll Ziegler commissioned has an inadvertent control — the Palin questions.  These respondents were highly cognizant of Sarah Palin’s details, but not of Obama or Biden’s.  That reflects on the media more than the voters, and most people missed the point of this exercise.  It wasn’t to show Obama voters as ignorant, but the media as complicit in ensuring that they remained ignorant, at least in terms of Obama.

Questions were biased or wrong.  None of them were wrong in the sense of having inaccurate information.  One can criticize the question about seeing Russia from Palin’s house, which Palin never said but Tina Fey did in her satire of Palin.  Otherwise, the questions themselves all accurately reflected the events of the campaign.  None of them should have been terribly obscure, either, but again, that depends on how well the media covered these events.  Quite obviously by this poll result, the media covered Bristol Palin’s pregnancy and Sarah Palin’s wardrobe far more effectively than Joe Biden’s plagiarism or Barack Obama’s admission that his policies would make energy prices skyrocket.

This was a push poll.  This is easily the most ignorant of the criticisms, other than the aforementioned ad hominem attacks.  I’ve been push-polled several times, and this doesn’t even come close.  A push poll attempts to get a specific answer based on feeding the survey subject information that a campaign wants to get out, usually a gossipy tidbit they don’t want to run in an ad.  Typically, this would come in a question such as “Would you vote for James Kirk as best Star Trek captain even if you knew that he secretly killed Tribbles in his spare time and refused to promote Chekov because Kirk felt threatened by his popularity among the crew?”

Push polls don’t use multiple-choice answers, at least not in this sense (sometimes they use a scale of likelihood).  They don’t even use open-ended questions.  They use closed-ended questions to get commitment.  They’re specific to a single candidate or party.  Zogby’s questions didn’t do any of that.  They asked about specific events and gave four potential people for respondents to associate with these events.

Zogby’s polls have plenty of room for criticism, but these aren’t valid at all.


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