Polling Project: First Numbers
by Chris Bowers, Fri Jan 27, 2006 at 08:30:37 AM EST
The reason we are not releasing all of our information at once is because we want to give proper attention to all of the questions in the poll. Of course, in the interests of full disclosure, absolutely everything in the poll, including the raw data, the methodology, the entire questionnaire, and all of the results, will be available to the public on Tuesday morning. This will be the most public, open-source poll of all-time--Chris
If you will forgive me for being a tease, our first release will focus on perhaps the most boring questions in the entire poll:
1. Are you registered to vote in elections in your local area?
2. And are you registered to vote as a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a member of some other party or are you registered but with no party preference?
Ind/Oth/No Party 37.5%
3. Generally speaking, in your opinion is the United States headed pretty much in the right direction these days or is it headed off on the wrong track?
Right Direction 36.9%
Wrong Track 48.3%
Not Sure/DK/ref 14.8%
4. And do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling the job of President?
Not Sure/DK/ref 6.7%
5. How would you describe the availability of good jobs at decent wages in your local area? Would you say such jobs are widely available, available but not easy to find, rarely available or not available at all?
Widely Available 17.6%
Available, not easy 37.1%
Rarely Available 25.3%
Not available 9.4%
Not Sure/DK/ref 10.6% Not as groundbreaking as we had promised, is it? Well, for these questions, that's good. There are many times when the results of these questions, especially question #4, can result in a poll becoming big news. When Bush plunged into the 30's according to most polls, that was big news. When Bush "recovered" into the low forties, that was big news. However, the absolute last thing I wanted was for our answers to these questions to be anything but ordinary. As much as I may want Bush's approval rating to be 30%, the last thing I wanted was for our poll to show him with such an approval rating. I did not want that because we all know that any poll showing Bush with a 30% (or a 55%) approval rating is inaccurate. In our first entry into the polling world, we simply can't make news with outlying results: we have to make news with accuracy.
I believe we have indeed achieved accuracy. These numbers are very much in line with the recent results of other polling firms. (Source for ARG. Source for Rasmussen. Source for all other polls).
Organization, Date: Approve / Disapprove
Rasmussen, 1/24-1/26: 46 / 53
Fox /Opinion, 1/24-1/25: 41 / 51
ARG, 1/18-1/22: 38 / 58
LA Times / Bloomberg, 1/22-1/25: 43 / 54
CBS / NYT, 1/20-1/25: 42 / 51
Gallup / CNN, 1/20-1/22: 43 / 54
Hotline, 1/12-1/15: 46 / 53
Mean: 42.7 / 53.4
Median: 43 / 53
MyDD / Wright, 1/16-1/26: 43 / 50
Our "direction of the country" numbers are also in line with those of other polling firms (source):
Organization, Date: Right Direction / Wrong Track
Gallup, 1/9-1/12: 36 / 61
Pew, 1/4-1/8: 34 / 61 (satisfied / dissatisfied)
AP, 1/3-1/5: 32 / 65
MyDD / Wright, 1/16-1/26: 37 / 48
Clearly, when it comes to the most commonly asked political polling questions, our survey sample is very much in line with those of other polling firms. This is a good, solid sample. Given this, the results that we will release over the next few days can be accepted with much greater confidence. Perhaps best of all, considering that one of the charges we are most likely to face is that we are partisans, I would also like to note that our results are actually slightly more favorable to Bush and the conservative viewpoint than they are to the Democratic and progressive viewpoint. In our poll, Bush's job disapproval rating is most similar to that produced by, of all places, Fox News. Our approve / disapprove margin is most similar to Republican polling firm Rasmussen. Our approve numbers are precisely at the mean and the median in of the last seven public polls. Our "wrong track" direction of the country numbers are much more favorable to the Bush administration viewpoint than those of other polling firms. Even our "right direction" numbers are slightly higher than those of other recent public surveys.
Accuracy was always the key in this project. In deciding to move forward with our historic polling project, collectively we had a number of different goals and motivations. We wanted to commission this poll because there were a host of questions we wanted to ask. We wanted to ask questions about Iraq withdrawal that no other polling firm was asking, questions about possible investigations of President Bush that polls operated by commercial news outlets seemed unable to ask, and questions about warrant-less domestic spying because, at the time, few other organizations were doing the same and we were not happy with the questions they were asking. We also wanted to run this survey because we know that polls commissioned by commercial news organizations do not just report on the state of public opinion, but because they also help shape public opinion as well. We wanted to challenge the notion that the creation of conventional wisdom is entirely the domain of a small handful of pundits and talking heads who work for large news organizations. We believe it is possible for the grassroots and the netroots to alter conventional wisdom as well.
However, above all else, we wanted a poll that would be an accurate survey of national public opinion on a variety of topics. Without accuracy and rigor, all of our other goals would be impossible. If our numbers are not accurate, our results, no matter how well intended, would become worthless. Without accuracy, there was no reason for anyone, either inside or outside of the blogosphere, to take us seriously. Without accuracy, there was no way that our questions, no matter how original and insightful, would be repeated in variation by other polling outfits. Without accuracy, all we would have done is waste the nearly $17K that the MyDD community, and the wider netroots community, amazingly donated to the poll.
With all of this in mind, my biggest worry when the poll was in the field was that we would come out with outlying answers to frequently asked questions. No matter how good your pollster is, and Joel Wright is very good, there is always a chance you will end up with an outlying poll. That is why, at the start of the poll, we included two common poll questions in order to establish whether or not our sample was in line with those of other polling outfits in recent weeks. To my great relief, we came in right at some very ordinary, average results.
In closing, I would like to point out the results to question number five, for two reasons.
First, it is interesting that only 18% of the country think that good jobs at good wages are "widely available." This is an important result that Democrats should use whenever they are faced with claims from Republicans that the job market is fantastic. People just don't see it that way.
Second, I want to note that the rest of the poll is filled with questions of this nature. We are laying out the most mundane, the most ordinary results first. However, the rest of the poll is chock full of juicy results that we will release between now and Tuesday morning. The first key is showing that this is an accurate poll. From that point, we can start to explore further wonders that unfold later in the questionnaire.
Thank you to everyone who made this happen. We are boldly going where no blog has gone before, and the readers of this blog made it all possible.