POS In The News, 3/24/09

On Real Clear Politics, Stuart Rothenberg discusses the partisan interpretations of the recent NPR poll.

Nobody is under oath, so I suppose that it’s too much to expect “the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” especially when it comes to press releases, headlines and even reputable pollsters.

But I was disappointed to see how some of the results of a March Public Opinion Strategies/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll of likely voters for National Public Radio were presented.

Yes, the two firms have very different partisan bents, but they collaborated on a national survey for NPR, a nonpartisan organization, so it’s reasonable to expect a certain level of analytical neutrality from both.

But if you only read about the NPR poll on the Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Web site, you would have a seriously distorted view of the results of the survey.
Robert A. George of NBC News Dallas/Fort Worth writes about President Obama’s policy decisions and how the results of the NPR poll should be a warning sign to Democrats.

In the new National Public Radio poll conducted by the Democratic polling company Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and its Republican counterpart, Public Opinion Strategies, 42 percent of the 800 likely voters surveyed March 10 to 14 said that if the next congressional election were held today they would vote for the Republican candidate; an identical percentage of respondents said they would vote for the Democratic one. For several years, Democrats held a substantial lead on this question.

This could be what is often called an “outlier” poll. If so, it’s nothing for the White House and Democrats to worry about.  However, that there would be such numbers so early in the president’s term should be a warning sign. Independents — unlike hard-core ideologues of either party — tend  to be less concerned by cultural issues and more by bread-and-butter economic ones.

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