About That Fox News Poll; Update on Poll Sampling

There have been many pundits, news writers, and bloggers recently who have cited a specific Fox News poll while giving us the “reasons” that they think Governor Palin should stay out of the 2012 presidential race. Considering that the poll has a Fox News label on it, we as conservatives are supposed to believe that it is entirely credible. There are some problems with that, and “credible” isn’t a word I would use in association with the numbers they came up with. Here’s why…

The section of the poll that is being touted by the media and by the governor’s detractors states:

Should Palin Run?

All in all, most voters — 74 percent — think Palin should stay on the sidelines in 2012. Just 20 percent think she should run for president.

The groups most likely to support Palin running are white evangelical Christians (30 percent) and Tea Party members (28 percent). Still, majorities of those groups do not think she should run (62 percent and 66 percent respectively). In addition, 72 percent of conservatives, 71 percent of Republicans and 66 percent of independents think Palin should stay out.

Women (77 percent) are a bit more likely than men (71 percent) to say Palin should sit this one out.

Just among women, Republicans (26 percent) are more likely than independents (24 percent) and Democrats (15 percent) to think Palin should run.

What these people leave out of their reports is perhaps the most interesting fact about the poll altogether. It states (emphasis):

The Fox News poll is based on landline and cell phone interviews with 911 randomly chosen registered voters nationwide and was conducted under the joint direction of Anderson Robbins Research (D) and Shaw & Company Research (R) from August 29 to August 31. For the total sample, it has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Now, just who is Shaw & Company Research? Alexander Burns from Politico writes:

The Shaw in Shaw & Company is Daron Shaw, a University of Texas political science professor and veteran of several GOP campaigns, whose name has been in the news a bit lately.

That’s because Shaw is one of the starring players in Sasha Issenberg’s e-book, “Rick Perry and His Eggheads: Inside the Brainiest Political Operation in America,” which details a groundbreaking set of experiments that Shaw and three other academics conducted inside Perry’s 2006 reelection campaign.

The Perry campaign allowed the so-called eggheads to run tests on “anything [they] could figure out how to randomize, from lawn signs to television ads,” Issenberg writes, and they assembled a provocative set of findings on which kinds of campaign tactics really work.

Fast forward five years and Perry is running for president and Shaw is one of the lead pollsters for the most influential cable network, by far, among GOP primary voters.

I’ve read the 30 page book that Burns is talking about, so don’t be distracted by the fact that he writes for Politico. What he wrote is accurate, you can see for yourself here.

Now, Shaw maintains that there wasn’t a conflict of interest in doing the poll for Fox because Perry didn’t pay him and the other “eggheads” for their services. Even though he and the others were very much a part of Perry’s political team, he claims that ” we’re stupid, we never entered into any business relationship with Perry.” The book states that Shaw was “moonlighting” for the Perry campaign. I gather that one would have to go through Perry’s campaign disclosure forms to find out for sure. Given the huge numbers for Perry in the poll and the fact that Team Perry is determined to keep Governor Palin out of the race, something isn’t right with Fox using Shaw’s agency to gather numbers for a conservative audience.

There is also the fact that the Fox poll numbers are very different from a poll that CNN conducted just this last July. Ian noted at the time:

55% of Republican and Republican-leaning independents want Governor Palin to run.

That is a huge difference between the Shaw and Anderson Robbins (Fox poll) numbers. When you see that big of a shift in that short amount of time, you know something isn’t right. The fact that Fox used somebody that the Perry people trust and allowed close access to, should send off alarms to more than just the writers at Politico.


Chicago’s “Hispanic Mom” submitted this update, noting the bizarre sampling that Shaw used for this poll …

According to the Fox News website, Anderson Robbins Research (D) / Shaw & Company Research (R) conducted the polling, and interviewed 911 registered voters via telephone—
702 landline, 209 cell phone.

Maybe it’s me, but that’s a relative small sampling. Compare the 911 voters to the 2730 registered voters that Quinnipac polled and you can’t help but question the sampling. Then compare the margins of error (MOE): Quinnipac’s poll had a +-1.9%; the Anderson Robbins/Shaw & Co. poll had an MOE among “Independents” as high as 7.5%.

But here’s a little fact that Bill (and Ingraham) neglected to mention: 40% of the respondents said they vote in Democratic primaries—which suggests that the 74% “no” figure includes 40% of Democrats who of course don’t want Palin to run. Add to that a margin of error of 5-7%, and it seems a truer percentage would be approximately 27% “no” among the sampling–not the 74% heralded by O’Reilly.

And here’s another juicy bit of the poll that O’Reilly left out completely: when GOP primary voters were read a list of potential candidates for the 2012 GOP nomination, Palin (8%) came in 3rd behind Perry (26%) and Romney (18%). Now why would Mr. O’Reilly omit that pertinent fact in his “factor analysis”? What’s even more striking is that Palin has not even announced! Note to Bill: finish reading the poll.

He went on to harp that “She has the highest national negatives in the business.” Yet, when asked: “Are there any announced or potential candidates for the Republican nomination who you feel are just too extreme to be seriously considered? If yes, who?”

Respondents gave the 1st and 2nd place “too extreme” trophies to Bachmann (18%) and Perry (14%). So it was even more laughable to hear Bill claim: “I think they like Michelle  Bachmann. And they admire Congresswoman Bachmann’s moxie. The hard work she has put in.”

This is where I pulled myself off the floor. “Moxie? You wanna talk moxie? Here’s your word of the day, Bill. When referring to the Governor, please remember that she’s lived a life of moxie. In fact, if anyone has the ability to face difficulty with spirit and pluck, if anyone has courage, determination, know-how (read: moxie) to lead this country, it’s Governor Sarah Palin. Now that’s a factor with no spin.

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