The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do 71 Percent Of Obama Voters Regret Voting For Him In 2012? Not True!

You have to check this out. Compliments to the Tampa Bay Times for digging deep.  

These are the sorts of polling and polling reporting that contributed to Mitt Romney filing to develop a concession speech in 2012.  Karl Rove has pumped the Right with so much flawed survey data, the completely ill-equipped and naive Mitt Romney committed a political. Of even more significance political independent Americans vote along the same lines as the leanings of poll results. Hardcore Right voters will vote for any right-wing candidate even if the candidate campaigns to run a natural gas pipeline together their living rooms. Hardcore Left voters will vote for their candidate even if the candidate goes hyperbolic about "personally" plugging potholes int their streets.   

Political operatives who develop survey questions are masters at extrapolating campaign-able results rooted in responses to questions.

Over the course of the week I was pooled by a caller who was apparently hired to deliver results to conservative political entities. One very obviously manipulative questions was related to the (exact quote) "2014 General Elections." The 2014 elections are referred to as "Mid-term" elections with the vernacular "General elections common reserved for elections inclusive of the US Presidency.  The nature of the question for the politically less informed or the rushed (less attentive) listener could very well yield results well-off from the respondent's true thoughts about 2014 vs 2016. 

My example is well shy of the level of manipulation delineated in the Punditfact piece to follow. The following insert is extracted from the first paragraph of the piece: a great sentence construct with linked words to show the extent to which Right-wing media ran with the false information.a
"Poll:71% of Obama supporters 'regret' voting for his reelection." (Those all link to different websites.)

The Truth-O-Meter Says:

A poll shows 71 percent of Obama voters regret voting for him.

Bloggers on Tuesday, February 18th, 2014 in conservative blogs

Do 71 percent of Obama voters regret voting for him in 2012?


For President Barack Obama’s opponents, word of his latest downfall was stunning and welcome.

Headlines and tweets all said just about the same eyebrow-raising thing: "Poll:71% of Obama supporters 'regret' voting for his reelection." (Those all link to different websites.)

The purported statistic from a poll was the focus of a Washington Examiner post last week that spread quickly through conservative blogs, social media, radio and online forums. Tweets about the news by big guns like Fox & Friends and various accounts with smaller reach were hard to miss.
But the news is wrong. PunditFact will explain why.
The origins of the claim did not even mention the news about regretful Obama voters in its Feb. 17 writeup of a new poll.
The story that accompanied the poll, headlined "Mitt Romney’s phantom campaign," explored whether Romney is viewed more favorably ahead of the 2016 presidential election given more positive media buzz about a Netflix documentary about him. (The answer, based on their polling data, is not really.)
YouGov polled about 1,000 voters over two days in early February, asking voters of Romney and Obama if they would make the same decision today that they did in November 2012. YouGov found 90 percent of Romney voters would vote for Romney again, while 79 percent of Obama voters said they would stick with Obama.
Of the remaining 2012 Obama voters, 10 percent said they would not vote for him again, and 11 percent said they were unsure.
The 10 percent who would not vote for him again got a follow-up question: Do you regret voting for Obama?
Of 35 people in that group, 25 said yes. That's 71 percent.
So of the people who voted for Obama, 396, 6 percent said they had regrets.
In the eyes of YouGov assistant editor William Jordan, this was not worth mentioning in the original write-up.
"We did not think it surprising that the small number of voters who said they would no longer voted for Obama now regretted voting for him," he said.

Breaking free from the facts
This is where things get messy.
The next day, Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard published a story (since updated) that picked up on the people who said they regret voting for Obama.
Bedard wrote that 71 percent of Obama voters regret voting for his re-election.
"Over seven in 10 Obama voters, and 55 percent of Democrats, regret voting for President Obama’s reelection in 2012, according to a new Economist/ poll," he wrote. (The Economist has collaborated with YouGov in past polls, but not this one.)
Those words sprung to life, appearing on news aggregator Drudge Report, spreading across Twitter, and landing on sites like and World Net Daily. It seeped into partisan radio broadcasts, including on Rush Limbaugh’s show, and even a down-the-middle San Diego morning TV show.
Conservative blog Hot Air was the exception. It urged its readers to ignore stories about the 71 percent statistic.
Why? YouGov, while correctly reporting its sample sizes and percentages in its tables, left off an important disclaimer in describing who got question. No one realized it until someone asked about it the day after posting the results.
The description about the "regrets" question should have said, "Asked of those who reported voting for Barack Obama in 2012 but would not vote for him if the election was held again."
Instead it said, "Asked of those who voted for Barack Obama in 2012." That language suggests a sample size of 396 voters, not 35.
"The 71 percent who regretted voting for Obama, which was picked up by various media outlets, is of the 3.5 percent (35 of 999 respondents) of the sample who said they voted for Obama in 2012 and would not vote for him today," Jordan said.
YouGov fixed its truncated filter. Bedard, at the Examiner, rewrote parts of his story and changed the headline to, "Poll: Only 79% of Obama voters would vote for him again."
But there’s no recall button for bad information on the Web. This one spread like a bad chain email.
Our ruling
Reports on blogs, television, radio and Twitter said a poll showed 71 percent of Obama voters regret voting for him.
The number is widly high, based on incomplete wording in a poll report and a less-than-perfect reading of that report by news organizations.
Surveys require a great deal of attention from pollsters and reporters alike, especially ones with political overtones, said Karlyn Bowman, a polling analyst at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. As the sample size shrinks, the margin of error rate expands.
Point being, while the overall YouGov poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points, the question about regret would have a much higher margin of error.  
"You’ve got to be really careful when you’re looking at subsamples of subsamples of subsamples," Bowman said.
In this case, that didn’t happen. We rate this claim Pants on Fire.

Independents be aware, you are a target!

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