Our Conversation With Richard Morin
by Chris Bowers, Tue Dec 20, 2005 at 10:16:17 AM EST
So, earlier today I asked you to take part in an online chat with Richard Morin, the poll editor for the Washington Post. Looking at the transcript of the chat, I have to say that you guys did an excellent job: the vast majority of the questions were clearly coming from a progressive perspective. Well done!
The highlight of the discussion was definitely the questions surrounding impeachment. In fact, and I'm not sure if Richard Morin realizes this, but he is now on record stating that the next few ABC-WaPo poll will include a question on impeachment:We do not ask about impeachment because it is not a serious option or a topic of considered discussion--witness the fact that no member of congressional Democratic leadership or any of the serious Democratic presidential candidates in '08 are calling for Bush's impeachment. When it is or they are, we will ask about it in our polls. Well, here is something that Morin should find interesting. From the "leadership" page on the House Democratic caucus website: Hon. John Lewis (GA-05), Senior Chief Deputy WhipAnd this:U.S. Rep. John Lewis said Monday in a radio interview that President Bush should be impeached if he broke the law in authorizing spying on Americans.And this:U.S. Rep. John Lewis, (D-Ga) told WAOK-AM's "Atlanta's Best News" morning program he believes it is time for the House of Representatives to start thinking about preparing impeachment proceedings--or at least draw up articles of impeachment. There you have it: a member of the Democratic House leadership has called for impeachment, called to prepare impeachment proceedings, and called for articles of impeachment to be drawn up. Morin said, and I quote "witness the fact that no member of congressional Democratic leadership or any of the serious Democratic presidential candidates in '08 are calling for Bush's impeachment. When it is or they are, we will ask about it in our polls." His requirements have thus been fulfilled, and I expect the next several ABC News WaPo polls to include a question on Bush's impeachment, as per his word.
A polling director is now on record stating his conditions for polling on Bush's impeachment. Those conditions have been met. The MYDD community and Impeach PAC deserve some serious love for this.
Also, in the extended entry, I include some other interesting exceprts from the transcript.
I'm curious as to why this poll omits that very important data.
Richard Morin: Be curious no longer. My valued colleage and assistant is on a well-deserved vacation this week, leaving me with all this work! Between the story, graphic and assorted other pieces of business, I finally got the demographic breakdowns to our website late last evening and they were posted on the site a couple of hours ago. Here's the link. Enjoy!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/polls/121905_demotrend.pdfThat's nice. While it is a perfectly good explanation as to why it took so long to get the demographic breakdowns of the poll online, it is not a good explanation for why they ran the original story on the front page before the demographic breakdowns were available. Failing to post internals along with the story goes a long way toward proving my longstanding thesis that commercial news outlets conduct polls not in order to accurately report public opinion as a form of legitimate news reporting, but instead to actually create news and sell copies through a sensational headline. Internals should always be released along with the story, or the poll should be ignored, period.
Here's a nice bit of sidestepping on party id:The first likely suspect is party id: perhaps our poll contained too many Republicans and Gallup's contained too many Democrats. Nice theory, but it is wrong this time. Our sample was slightly more Democratic than Republican (33 percent D versus 32 percent R). But Gallup also had Democrats up by 1 percent. This is just plain wrong from Morin. The issue is not so much how the ABC / WaPo internals vary from those found in another polling outfit, but instead from those found within the last poll from the same outlet. The two previous ABC-WaPo polls put Republican identification at 27%, a full five points below the 32% in the latest poll (source). While it could be argued that some of Bush's previous troubles in the ABC-WaPo poll were the result of too few Republicans being in the survey sample, there is no real way to argue that the shift in partisan identification from one ABC-WaPo poll to the next was a significant cause for the shift from one poll to the next, no matter if Bush was going up or down.
And here is this lovely bit from Morin:Which brings me to this point. Gallup does terrific work. But I found it odd that they had Bush at 41 immeidately after the Iraq elections--down insignificantly from 42 in their pre-election poll. Bush didn't benefit--even a little bit--from the success of those elections and the favorable media coverage that followed? Certainly possible, but I find it hard to believe. Morin was clearly expecting that Bush's numbers would go up even before he took this poll. Justified or not, it certainly shows a tendency that he would be unwilling to accept any criticism of any poll that shows Bush's approval rating rising right now.
And then came the impeachment nonsense from Morin:Naperville, Ill.: Why haven't you polled on public support for the impeachment of George W. Bush?
Richard Morin: This question makes me mad...
Seattle, Wash.: How come ABC News/Post poll has not yet polled on impeachment?
Richard Morin: Getting madder...
Haymarket, Va.: With all the recent scandals and illegal/unconstitutional actions of the President, why hasn't ABC News / Washington Post polled whether the President should be impeached?
Richard Morin: Madder still...
Dublin, Ireland: In a statement on Sunday, John Dean, former White House counsel during Watergate, stated that President Bush is "the first President to admit to an impeachable offense." Will The Washington Post be polling about impeachment of the President in the near future, now that this topic has taken on national significance?
Richard Morin: An impeachment demand from Ireland? Oh my gawd. Now I'm furious.Yes. How dare anyone ask him about this topic. How dare grassroots activists decide to start putting pressure on the media the way conservatives have done for decades. This makes him mad? In a forum dedicated to explaining his poll, he is mad that people are asking for an explanation for why he isn't asking one question? Then why is he even having this forum?
Finally, I should note that he didn't answer my question about Iraq withdrawal. However, this is far from over, and I am going to keep pushing. After our success with the impeachment question, who knows what we can accomplish.