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What Republicans believe
February 3, 2010 10:29 PM   Subscribe

What Republicans believe - a poll of 2000 self-identified republicans by DailyKos/Research2000. With a little elucidation of some of the polling numbers by Nate of FiveThirtyEight. And also picked up by O'Reilly.
posted by wilful (198 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Batshitinsane is a starting point. Where it ends, who knows.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:39 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


All I can do is sigh and slowly shake my head.
posted by wierdo at 10:44 PM on February 3, 2010


I've always just kind of assumed it was, y'know, a pose. Like when I smiled and nodded when people talked about Neon Genesis Evangelion and I actually thought it was mostly horseshit. It was just what you did among my people, you know?
posted by Scattercat at 10:45 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


This "Are you basically crazy?" poll should have been done a lot earlier. The Washington press corps still likes to pretend that inside the wide flat Midwestern plain of every American voter's heart, there's some vast yet hidden Broderville where it is sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit, mild, and bipartisan all the live-long day-- and Goshdarnit, Why Can't the Dems and the GOP Just Go There! It's Both Sides' Fault!
posted by darth_tedious at 10:46 PM on February 3, 2010 [23 favorites]


And also picked up by O'Reilly.

The one fucking time i expected a book with a cute furry animal on the cover and it turns out to be papa bear. lame.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 10:50 PM on February 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm not really for conspiracy theories, but I firmly believe that the higher ups in the republican party purposely keep people dumb by devoting over 1/3 of the fed's budget to the military and a measly versus 1/25 to education. Uneducated people are just easier to control.
posted by blahblah at 10:50 PM on February 3, 2010 [21 favorites]


One last question:

Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

Christ 67
Other 15
Not Sure 18


Wait what? Talk about begging the question. Since "heaven" is a concept tied up very closely with basically only with two of the three Abrahamic religions, this is a loaded thing to ask. Totally was put into this poll just for the lolwut nature of the responses, and should have been left out.
posted by hippybear at 10:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [31 favorites]


I mean, I'll even give them Sarah Palin and ACORN, since the former is just glitzy celebrity and the latter requires a little noodling to even know what exactly they do (and anything that's subtle and complex is easily misunderstood, especially when you hear a constant refrain labeling them as basically the Illuminati), but how the hell do a staggering majority of 2000 people simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty? I sincerely do not understand how you can hold those two beliefs in your head simultaneously and not at least suspect that something is weird about it. Like putting on pants without underwear, y'know? You just kind of sense something amiss.

And how the hell do you believe someone is a socialist when you don't even know what the word means?
posted by Scattercat at 10:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Uneducated people are just easier to control.

That's not a conspiracy theory; that's statecraft.
posted by Maximian at 10:53 PM on February 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


You know, I myself am skeptical of how accurately this one poll from a leftist website represents Republicans and actually found myself - wait for it - agreeing with Bill O'Reilly's mocking of this poll.

Well, right up until this part: "But what is serious is the hatred that ideological internet nuts continue to spew out there; and they have enablers on radio and TV as we all know. [...] These far out websites on the left - and on the right a little bit but not so much - filter their little garbage into the New York Times and other people and then it gets mainstreamed out."

Wow.
posted by battlebison at 10:56 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Scattercat how the hell do a staggering majority of 2000 people simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty?

I'm pretty sure the reasoning goes like this: "It's not murder if the victim deserves it."
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 11:01 PM on February 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


And how the hell do you believe someone is a socialist when you don't even know what the word means?
For a while there, it did look like Obama was interested in having the state at least partially own the means of production (of financial mayhem and substandard automobiles).
posted by planet at 11:05 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I like how nearly a third of them WANT TO OUTLAW CONCEPTION.

The GOP is clearly not content with just becoming the party of the 19th century; by god, they're becoming the party of the early 19th century. Jefferson Never, Pinckney Forever!
posted by scody at 11:05 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how nearly a third of them WANT TO OUTLAW CONCEPTION.
Pretty sure it's that other thing they want to outlaw. Like conception, but totally the opposite.
posted by planet at 11:09 PM on February 3, 2010 [17 favorites]


And how the hell do you believe someone is a socialist when you don't even know what the word means?
posted by Scattercat at 10:53 PM on February 3 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]

Thank you! I'm sick and tired of Neocons who believe there's no difference between socialized healthcare and communist Russia.
posted by Pseudology at 11:10 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Southerners may be slightly over-represented in the polling sample, fwiw.
(from the institute for southern studies)
posted by ofthestrait at 11:11 PM on February 3, 2010


Yeah, these days I find Bill O' to be kinda fun to watch from time to time. He makes my brain work to dissect, analyze evaluate all them fast moving talking points.

Karl Rove however, needs a good falcon punch in the dick.
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 11:14 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank you! I'm sick and tired of Neocons who believe there's no difference between socialized healthcare and communist Russia.
Was this supposed to be ironic? Neocons have no particular objection to socialized healthcare.
posted by planet at 11:17 PM on February 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure it's that other thing they want to outlaw. Like conception, but totally the opposite.

Proception?
posted by dirigibleman at 11:18 PM on February 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Two things.

Number one, I want way more information about this poll- particularly about its sample makeup and selection process- before I even start to mock the questions.

Number two, in what fantasy world is dKos a "far-left" website? I used to post there when I still believed in liberalism and was eventually driven away by the hostility to viewpoints as far "left" as I held then, so how far to the fucking right do you have to be to regard that hive of centrism and Obama-hugging and "far left"?
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:24 PM on February 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


Was this supposed to be ironic? Neocons have no particular objection to socialized healthcare.

Maybe the conservatives I know are fucking nuts but the majority I've met tell me that I have to be either capitalist or socialist but if I choose to be socialist I can look forward to spending the rest of my life sitting in a mud pit with no personal property of my own.
posted by Pseudology at 11:26 PM on February 3, 2010


Number two, in what fantasy world is dKos a "far-left" website?

I haven't read the site since '04, but they seemed pretty liberal at the time.
posted by delmoi at 11:36 PM on February 3, 2010


Okay, so, while this poll was run by a non-partisan organization, the questions lean towards push-polling on what Kos knew to be hot-button issues. The answers might tell us something but not necessarily what Republicans actually believe. Just to give an example, the question, "Do you believe Obama is a Socialist?" could be much better asked as , "How would you best describe Obama's political position? Fascist/Conservative/Republican/Moderate/Liberal/Pragmatic/Socialist/Communist/etc.?"

That said, I found O'Reilly's tack of "we all know you don't believe the things we've been telling you" to be bizarre and hilarious, despite how awful that whole segment was.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:37 PM on February 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Maybe the conservatives I know are fucking nuts but the majority I've met tell me that I have to be either capitalist or socialist but if I choose to be socialist I can look forward to spending the rest of my life sitting in a mud pit with no personal property of my own.
I believe you. The neoconservative movement started with liberals who swung right, though, and was always more tolerant of social welfare programs than mainstream conservativism. Staunch opposition to socialized medicine strikes me more as a small-government conservative position.

Now that foreign interventionism has entered the conservative mainstream, it's all getting confusing, but your conservative friends don't sound like neocons to me.
posted by planet at 11:38 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


Number two, in what fantasy world is dKos a "far-left" website?

It's a standard tactic. Paint the other side as extremists and yourself as a reasonable moderate, just like your audience. On average, 40% of Americans will always say they're moderates no matter what political views they actually hold.
posted by zarq at 11:42 PM on February 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


Well, this question:

Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

is reasonable enough. I would have thought any child educated in the US would need at least a workable knowledge of Christianity, and the Bible is a good primary source that explains how God created the world. I'd answer yes to that. Of course, they should also be taught creation stories of other religions and examine them all to understand the shared need to explain the world our ancestors observed. This could then neatly segue into a lesson on astronomy and the big bang and all that.
posted by twirlypen at 11:52 PM on February 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I hope I'm wrong but it's starting to look like the future of conservativism... at least here in Canada. Everything but the Religious aspect of Republicanism is spreading north like a poorly controlled plague.
posted by Pseudology at 11:52 PM on February 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a standard tactic.

Related is the notion that certain widely-held positions represent extremes and that the common middle, where sensible moderates reside, is exactly halfway between the two. This is of course why the average human has one testicle and one ovary.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:56 PM on February 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


They missed "Is Snopes the tool of Satan, and if you check out that hateful bullshit conservative chain email before you forward it to your progressive liberal children will it cause you to be possessed by demons - maybe even Negro or Mexican demons?"
posted by obiwanwasabi at 12:28 AM on February 4, 2010 [32 favorites]


The polling may have its flaws, but Karl Rove's attempt to discredit DK for its use of "four-letter words" in individual blogs is pathetic. What a twat.
posted by l2p at 12:29 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's a standard tactic.

Also related is the notion that YOU hold views that are sensible, scientifically proven, common sense, whereas THEIR views are all stupid, moronic, completely upside down, fairytales, plain fucking wrong.
posted by daniel_charms at 12:35 AM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh come on, I know damn well my ideas are at least as kooky/dumb as anyone else's.
posted by aubilenon at 12:48 AM on February 4, 2010


I can out-kook you...
Either that, or my dumb is at least as dumb as your dumb. Probably better/worse.
posted by Balisong at 1:02 AM on February 4, 2010


... 1/3 of the fed's budget to the military and a measly versus 1/25 to education.

You're imagining conspiracies where none exist. You do realize that one of the primary reasons the Federal government exists is to fund centralized armed services? And "education" is not mentioned at all in the Federal constitution and is generally considered a matter reserved to the states?

The vast majority of education funding in the United States comes from state and local governments (nearly 5 times the Federal contribution in 2009). That's a feature, not a bug. Education is most effective when it is funded and managed at local level, while the exact opposite is true for military forces, where centralized control is ideal.

You can certainly argue that we need to spend more on education and less on the military in total as a country, but it is to be expected that the Federal government, at least in its current form, spends more money on the military than on education. That's how it's designed, and in my opinion, that's how it should be.
posted by TBAcceptor at 1:04 AM on February 4, 2010 [19 favorites]


simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty? the death penalty?

I'm pretty sure the reasoning goes like this: "It's not murder if the victim deserves it."


If you believe in original sin, does that mean fetuses deserve it? At least until baptized.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:19 AM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


42% of Democrats think Bush caused 9-11 or let it happen

55% of Democrats oppose gay marriage

... Polls show people are morons, news at 11.
posted by FuManchu at 1:19 AM on February 4, 2010 [24 favorites]


Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?

Yes 26
No 55
Not Sure 19


In a May 2009 Gallup poll 58% of self-identified Republicans favoured allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 1:35 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Talk about begging the question. Since "heaven" is a concept tied up very closely with basically only with two of the three Abrahamic religions, this is a loaded thing to ask.

I think they were making the (reasonable) assumption that most respondents were Christians and so the question was basically, "Do you think people outside your religion are going to hell?"

Not the most scientifically unbiased wording, but not really more loaded than the rest of this poll.
posted by straight at 1:40 AM on February 4, 2010


Like putting on pants without underwear, y'know? You just kind of sense something amiss.

If you have drunk the Flavor-Aid and been made into a tool of the Man, yes.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:55 AM on February 4, 2010


but not really more loaded than the rest of this poll

It is when you consider that the doctrine of most Christian churches is that the only way to Heaven is through that religion.
posted by biffa at 2:26 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You do realize that one of the primary reasons the Federal government exists is to fund centralized armed services? And "education" is not mentioned at all in the Federal constitution and is generally considered a matter reserved to the states?
The vast majority of education funding in the United States comes from state and local governments.
You are correct that it is misleading to compare federal expenditures on the military to federal expenditures on education (because the states pick up most of the tab).

However, your other comments suggest you be taking the various founding documents too literally. A very large chunk of the federal government's expenditures are nowhere mentioned in the constitution either. Rather many are derived from a broad, Depression era decision (the 'switch in time that saved nine') which found that the Commerce Clause could be used as the constitutional basis for the various New Deal programs and expenditures. Similarly 'interstate commerce' was the source of authority for many of the federal civil rights laws. Notwithstanding the abstract appeal of federalism (which conservatives tend to invoke rather arbitrarily), we really need to be careful about the implications of what it means to reserve to the states things that aren't explicitly spelled out in the constitution.

Also, the fact that the US government exists in part to protect its citizenry doesn't really speak to the insanely, hugely, unfathomably gargantuan expenditures the US currently spends on its military. The US spends more money on military defense than the next 10 largest military budgets on the planet combined. And it's worth noting that most of the countries in the top 10 are our allies. And in any case, none of them reside in the American continents.

If you're talking about the intent of the Founding Fathers, you should know that they were rather wary of standing armies and preferred militias.

President Washington put Alexander Hamilton in charge of a committee to study and make recommendations for a military establishment. Hamilton concluded that a large standing army in time of peace was "dangerous to the liberties of a country" and added that -- how's this for a contrast -- our nation was "too poor to maintain a standing army adequate to our defense."

Instead Hamilton advised that any surplus federal funds would be better applied not to an army but to building and equipping a Navy.

Otherwise Hamilton believed that America should rely on a version of the citizens’ militia, comprised of all male citizens between eighteen and fifty who would be used in the case of national emergencies.

If you're talking about historical precedent, the United States has not had much of a history of maintaining large standing armies during peace time prior to WW1. And between WWI and WWII our standing army was comparatively modest; I believe it peaked around 150k in the early 1920s (post war WW1) but by the 1930s we didn't even have a single combat ready division.

For the last half century the United States has maintained huge standing armies and navies in bases throughout the world. More than half of our military budget goes towards defending, well, foreigners from other foreigners. I'm confident the Founding Fathers never intended that our defense tax dollars would be used to protect, say, South Koreans.
Education is most effective when it is funded and managed at local level, while the exact opposite is true for military forces, where centralized control is ideal.
Tell that to all of the other industrialized nations who are ahead of us in terms of the quality of education, k-12.

I'm not sure what is particularly efficient about having hundreds of thousands of school districts, each duplicating the same bureaucracies, overpaid board members, expensive buildings, etc. each reinventing the same wheels about what textbooks to buy, what curriculum to teach, etc.

It can also result in the most frightening and unconscionable hijacking of entire state education systems by religious/political zealots who actively oppose critical thinking, science, and who otherwise want to inject as much religion and Republican revisionary propaganda as possible... and because of their state's purchasing power, it influences the textbooks that are sold nationwide.

Revisionaries. How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks.
posted by Davenhill at 2:50 AM on February 4, 2010 [25 favorites]


Soundtrack for reading these links.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:05 AM on February 4, 2010


You can not believe the poll because there are so many swear words on the KOS.
posted by caddis at 3:40 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I see Rove is wearing an orange tie - should really be a jumpsuit.
posted by mattoxic at 3:42 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Is there anyone who really finds the results of this poll even slightly surprising? Or at least anyone who's been paying attention to the Republican Party for the last thirty years?
posted by octothorpe at 3:58 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also related is the notion that YOU hold views that are sensible, scientifically proven, common sense, whereas THEIR views are all stupid, moronic, completely upside down, fairytales, plain fucking wrong.

All opinions are equally valid and deserve consideration.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 3:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


And how the hell do you believe someone is a socialist when you don't even know what the word means?
posted by Scattercat at 10:53 PM on February 3 [1 favorite -] Favorite added! [!]

Thank you! I'm sick and tired of Neocons who believe there's no difference between socialized healthcare and communist Russia.


Social democrat is a more accurate term, but socialist is reasonable. I will agree though, that he is only slightly more of a socialist than his predecessors. But that is damning with faint praise.

The neoconservatives are hardly defenders of the free market. Irving Kristol was well known for putting forward the idea of the conservative welfare state.
posted by BigSky at 4:14 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


While I'll agree that the questions could have, and should have, been phrased better, I think the results are neither surprising nor false.

Of course they believe that stuff, they say they do, they vote for politicians who say they do, they write and read books that say all that stuff is true, they attend Tea Party rallies where they hold signs saying that stuff is true, why would anyone doubt, for even one moment, that the crazy isn't deeply embedded in conservatism?

You'd have to believe that they're regularly and routinely lying about their goals, motives, aspirations, and beliefs to think that this poll doesn't reflect reality.

When someone says, over and over, that Obama is a socialist, that he wasn't born in America, that they hate sex and people who have sex for fun, that America doesn't have separation of church and state, you should accept that they believe that stuff. It isn't comfortable to believe that because it does imply that many Americans believe things that are, quite literally, insane. But if you don't believe that what people say is actually what they think it's going to be difficult to have a real conversation.

I don't think they are actually crazy, but I do think that a steady diet of Limbaugh, FOX, etc has convinced them that many things that are simply, objectively, not true are in fact true. And that means they do hold genuinely insane beliefs, but mainly due to miseducation coupled with a desire to believe in order to justify their politics and prejudices.

To someone who is racist, not KKK racist, but racist in the sense that they don't know any black people (beyond passing acquaintance level), they don't much like black people in general, and think that black people are generally inferior, the fact that the president is black is going to be threatening. Couple that with the natural desire to believe that their candidate should have won and it's going to be easy for a person to willingly be lead down the path of believing that Obama wasn't born in America. It ties into the racism without sounding overtly racist, it helps soothe the sting of losing the election because he didn't really win because he isn't qualified, etc. It's a literally insane belief, but it can be held by people who aren't actually crazy, just closeted racists and desperate to believe anything that prevents a nigger from really being president.
posted by sotonohito at 4:15 AM on February 4, 2010 [22 favorites]


Should openly gay men and women be allowed to serve in the military?

Yes 26
No 55
Not Sure 19

In a May 2009 Gallup poll 58% of self-identified Republicans favoured allowing openly gay men and women to serve in the military.


You'll notice in the Gallup poll, the choices are "favor" or "oppose", with no third choice. Personally, I hate binary poll questions. "Do you hate or love the color grey?"
While this poll is framed in a way to highlight how prevalent some ill-informed opinions are, I don't know that I'd agree that the questions lean towards push-polling on what Kos knew to be hot-button issues. I would like to know more of the methodology and makeup, too.

But no, not very surprising.
posted by Red Loop at 4:19 AM on February 4, 2010


Social democrat is a more accurate term, but socialist is reasonable. I will agree though, that he is only slightly more of a socialist than his predecessors. But that is damning with faint praise.

No. Just no. Obama's not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of the social democrats in Europe have basically given up and become centrist liberals, but that doesn't mean Obama is a social democrat. He's a centrist, with strictly centrist ideological commitments. On health care – where any socialist or social democrat will support a single-payer system – Obama went with an ideologically centrist position of government regulation. Read this, which quotes Norman Thomas (the last great social democratic figure in the US), on exactly how little socialism there was in New Deal liberalism, and then consider that Obama is pretty much economically to the right of the New Dealers.

Democrats have been called socialists since the '30s. Wasn't true then and hasn't gotten more true now.
posted by graymouser at 4:35 AM on February 4, 2010 [11 favorites]


Number two, in what fantasy world is dKos a "far-left" website?

Agreed. They explicitly say they are dedicated to get Democrats elected, which pretty much says it all.
posted by DU at 4:45 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Every poll is unscientific; this poll selected for the kinds of people who have a listed landline and DON'T TURN DOWN UNSOLICITED PHONE POLLS. The results are still pretty shocking, though.
posted by tehloki at 4:45 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


On health care – where any socialist or social democrat will support a single-payer system – Obama went with an ideologically centrist position of government regulation.

A centrist would have had a public option to at least compete with the market. By eliminating that, Obama is actually a center-rightist.
posted by DU at 4:46 AM on February 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

Yes 77
No 15
Not Sure 8


Sweet baby Dawkins, that's just sad. And frightening.
posted by DU at 4:49 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


This poll is idiotic and anyone with any objectivity can easily see that. The DK embarrasses itself with this nonsense.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 5:09 AM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I will agree though, that he is only slightly more of a socialist than his predecessors.

Wow. I think it's pretty clear that you're not using the word "socialist" in the sense in which it's been used by pretty much everyone forever. Do you mean "supporter of the idea that government and government-funded initiatives have an important role to play in the wellbeing of the nation"? Because until pretty recently there were plenty of Republicans who believed that, too.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:10 AM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure the reasoning goes like this: "It's not murder if the victim deserves it."

If 1. Christianity turns out to be correct after all, and 2. you promote killing of any type, then 3. you are not getting into heaven. Not even in self-defense; that was what the whole turn-the-other-cheek lesson meant. Say whatever you want about "believing in Jesus Christ" being the key to heaven, I'm pretty sure you can't just give it lip service, some amount of walk-walking is required too.

On the poll, you can always find a certain minimum number of people to vote the obviously stupid choice in any poll, and due to snarkers and other people not talking it seriously that number goes up in controversial polls. Call it the Lizard People effect. That is part of the premise of the Crazification Factor (which in this population is admittedly higher than the usual value).

Kos also overstates things a little by picking the worst possible interpretation of numbers as well; not being sure Obama was born in the United States doesn't mean thinking it's "up for debate," which he takes to imply these folks are as good as Birthers. Whatever common ground may still exist between the Ds and the Rs isn't going to be found with rhetoric like this.

I admit, I'm trying to look on the bright side of this. Hope and all that.
posted by JHarris at 5:17 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not as sure this indicates Republican lunacy/ignorance as it indicates an 'Other Side = Bad, mmmKay?' mentality (which, it can be argued, is just as prevalent on the left side of the political spectrum).
posted by Pragmatica at 5:30 AM on February 4, 2010


how the hell do a staggering majority of 2000 people simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty? I sincerely do not understand how you can hold those two beliefs in your head simultaneously and not at least suspect that something is weird about it.

It's simple. Society conditions us to believe unborn children - or even babies and toddlers - are generally considered too innocent to be accountable for committing wrong. Adults and teens, on the other hand, can serve as more tangible representations of Mean World Syndrome - namely as miscreants, outsiders, and immediate "examples" everything wrong in daily life. Though infants are too young to walk or feed themselves, a much older person can be more pithily dismissed as incorrigible...and therefore expendable.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:46 AM on February 4, 2010


Do you believe Sarah Palin is more qualified to be President than Barack Obama?

Yes 53
No 14
Not Sure 33


Reality FAIL
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 5:52 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Once again, their reality has lapped our satire.
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 5:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


...how the hell do a staggering majority of 2000 people simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty?

It makes more sense when it is viewed as a form of fetus idolatry, sort of like a blank slate theory meshed with baby worship. An adult human is considered polluted and condemned, saved only by a virgin born victim of human sacrifice. However unseeming, it somehow works out that capital punishment is justified for almost everyone, but never for fetuses.
posted by Brian B. at 5:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I dunno what all the incredulity is about. This really seems to be the same dog and pony show that's polarized the media and the masses since when I was a kid in the 60's.

Racism and bigotry(in all it's shape-shifting forms), religious based hatred and a deep belief in the flimsiest of suppositions concerning anyone or anything "different" and the ability to lie, cheat steal and murder without the slightest hesitation or qualm. Anything is fair game in the name of the JUST!

These fucking greedheads have just been more effective at using the medium if you ask me. And there's a whole lot more of'em now too. There are 100 million more people in this country than when I was a teenager. Somebody has been doing some serious fucking for reasons other than recreation methinks. Of course they oppose birth control, breeding more brains to wash is their primary function and has always been a publicly stated mission. This is simply empire building in action. This poll just proves that they've really hammered their message home in an effective and broad based way....

*sigh* I reckon the humanists need to learn how to proselytize.
posted by gigbutt at 6:12 AM on February 4, 2010


...how the hell do a staggering majority of 2000 people simultaneously profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty?

Also, I'm convinced, because a lot of anti-abortion sentiment, whether consciously or not, is really concerned with punishing perceived promiscuity, especially on the part of women, and making them pay for their terrible sinful sex-having lifestyles. That's why so many pro-lifers think abortion is OK in the case of rape, a position that would otherwise be ridiculously contradictory.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Now can we see a poll of Democrats with questions made up by republicans to pick out the points that make us sound crazy?

1) Do you believe G.W.Bush should be prosecuted on War Crimes?

2) Do you believe Monsanto is an "evil corporation"

3) Do you believe Gays should be allowed to marry?
.
.
.

I stopped reading. It's not that I wasn't shaking my head, and sometimes laughing, at the stats on the poll, it's Kos' comments on each one that made me stop. It's as if he was picking out things to comment on, much like on Fox News. I don't like watching or reading one-sided commentaries, it doesn't help our situation.
posted by zombieApoc at 6:16 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


One last question:

Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

Christ 67
Other 15
Not Sure 18

Wait what? Talk about begging the question. Since "heaven" is a concept tied up very closely with basically only with two of the three Abrahamic religions, this is a loaded thing to ask. Totally was put into this poll just for the lolwut nature of the responses, and should have been left out.
I think you might be missing something about this. It is not merely equivalent to something like "Is Christianity true".

There is, and always has been, significant disagreement among Christians about what will happen to virtuous nonbelievers in the afterlife. Including among typical everyday people, who don't study the Bible rigorously, don't engage in theological debate, and say they're Christian and maybe go to church once in a while, but for whom it's not really a prominent part of their life.

If you ask such a person whether they believe in Jesus, or the Bible, or Christianity, or Heaven, you'll often get "yes" as a response. If you then ask the exact same person who goes to Heaven, the answer will often be "good people". If you explicitly ask them "good people or good Christians", the answer will again often be "good people". If you point out to that person that Jesus supposedly said that no one gets to the Father but through him, the answer will often be an uneasy "well, I don't know about that".

And this is because "good people go to Heaven" is, for someone who believes in the concept of "Heaven", a belief born out of basic decency. And I think there are far more nominal Christians whose actual beliefs are born out of basic decency than there are those whose actual beliefs are born out of detailed knowledge of what their holy book says.

But not in the Republican Party, apparently.
posted by Flunkie at 6:31 AM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Personally, I hate binary poll questions. "Do you hate or love the color grey?"

I have been waiting so long to get asked this. Die, grey! I fucking hate you!
posted by shakespeherian at 6:34 AM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


42% of Democrats think Bush caused 9-11 or let it happen

Let it happen is vastly different than caused it. If you determine the ”Bin Laden determined to attack” memo as a strong warning that Bush did nothing about, than Bush ”let it happen”.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:34 AM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


Pretty sure it's that other thing they want to outlaw. Like conception, but totally the opposite.
Proception?
Conceptives.
posted by Flunkie at 6:35 AM on February 4, 2010


You'll notice in the Gallup poll, the choices are "favor" or "oppose", with no third choice. Personally, I hate binary poll questions. "Do you hate or love the color grey?"

I agree. But for this example, I think the comparison between Kos's results (with 3 options) and the Gallup poll of 8 months ago (with 2 options) shows that when forced to choose between black and white, the "not sure" Republicans tend to come down on the more liberal side of the issues. This is the opposite to what Kos assumes when analysing the latest poll results, where "not sure"s are in every case counted alongside the more extreme conservative answers.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:38 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's as if he was picking out things to comment on, much like on Fox News.

Yes...it's almost as if they are choosing what they feel is important, and then writing about those things. There's a word for that...oh yeah: COMMENTARY
posted by jckll at 6:44 AM on February 4, 2010


Outlaw proprioception!

::falls over::
posted by ook at 6:48 AM on February 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


I think the current political strategy of the Democratic party is to wait until the Republicans devolve in some sort of christianist Peronism, whereupon Wall Street totally divests itself from the party of the republic.

Everyone knows that the Sarah Palin wing of the party is not only wacky, but interested in spending money on social policy (just a different kind of social policy) in support of it's own essentially populist agenda: like at Mike Huckabee. People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly hate Palin and have an even bigger contempt for her mouth-breathing followers than the "Liberals."
posted by ennui.bz at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2010


The neoconservatives are hardly defenders of the free market. Irving Kristol was well known for putting forward the idea of the conservative welfare state.

Which involved dismantling existing welfare programs and instituting 1930s-style corporatism, where each might be given according to his needs, so long as he first contributes to the economic system.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:55 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly hate Palin and have an even bigger contempt for her mouth-breathing followers than the "Liberals."

I see few indications of this, though it should be noted I don't follow Limbaugh or O'Reilly on a day-to-day basis. However, based on the news I do read about them, I believe they tend to speak to the same choir, as it were. What is your statement based on?
posted by Pragmatica at 6:56 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm a registered dem and a generally left-leaning sort and I think the dKos is an insanely biased site. It's the fox of the left, using the same demeaning-your-opponents approach, only looking at facts that support its positions, etc. I have asked friends to not support any arguments they try to make with kos since it makes them look like a red-stater quoting Rush. If you really think kos is fair and representative of the country then the South is not the only thing completely out of touch. Seriously. It's not that I disagree with them, it's just they're...I don't know....the fox of the left, I guess. How many serious polls insult and mock their respondents like this guy?

C'mon. Agreeing with O'Reilly hurts, I know, but...c'mon. that's like claiming the Utne Reader is a mainstream mag. If you're going to hoot and holler aboutr everyone else's stupid bias, then at least notice your own.

Also, democratic citizens, what if the majority of the voters in this country want to act like idiots and morons and christians, to craft a ridiculously redundant phrase? Then should we not bow to the will of the majority?
posted by umberto at 7:05 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly hate Palin and have an even bigger contempt for her mouth-breathing followers than the "Liberals."

If true, that just makes me think that O'Reilly and Rush are less idiotic than I would think otherwise. Why hate on them when they get it right for once?
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 7:08 AM on February 4, 2010


It's as if he was picking out things to comment on, much like on Fox News. I don't like watching or reading one-sided commentaries, it doesn't help our situation.

The problem with the people chiming in here to say that each side is as bad as the other is that a big chunk of the questions in the Kos poll are about verifiable facts. Believing that George Bush should be prosecuted for war crimes and believing that Barack Obama wasn't born in America belong to two separate categories of "belief". A huge chunk of the Republican Party base appears to be detached from reality to the point of collective mental disorder, and what really doesn't help is adamantly pretending that this isn't the case.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 7:11 AM on February 4, 2010 [12 favorites]


shakespeherian Grey kilt mah daddy!
posted by ExitPursuedByBear at 7:11 AM on February 4, 2010


I noticed that in every case, no matter how crazy the rest of the country was, the South was crazier.

Guys, let's look at that Confederacy thing again. I think we can talk this time.
posted by Legomancer at 7:14 AM on February 4, 2010


The problem with the people chiming in here to say that each side is as bad as the other is that a big chunk of the questions in the Kos poll are about verifiable facts.

That's not a problem, that's a detail. If you're being a dick about the sky being blue and I'm being a dick about pink crystal cows that eat CO2 and crap clean water, we're both being dicks, regardless of which of us has the facts on our side.
posted by Pragmatica at 7:15 AM on February 4, 2010


So, I've learned two things today:
1) There are some really confused voters out there.

2) This "Kos" guy is kind of a dick.
posted by madajb at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kos as an objective polling party? Yeah, I'll buy that.
posted by VicNebulous at 7:22 AM on February 4, 2010


If nothing else, this serves as a handy guide for how I need to act (in order to blend in/hide in plain sight) when they re-take the country in a few years.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:25 AM on February 4, 2010


People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly hate Palin and have an even bigger contempt for her mouth-breathing followers than the "Liberals."

In an interview with Sarah Palin, Bill O'Reilly calls Palin a media "star" and told her that the media attacks her because they view her as a "threat" (transcript: I | II). That and the remainder of the interview doesn't read like strong criticism, to me. It's barely critical of her, at all.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:26 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pragmatica Interesting. So the single most important thing is the question of whether or not someone qualifies as "being a dick" from your POV. Accuracy, reality, outcome of proposals and programs, etc are all irrelevant, the only factor worth discussing is whether or not you think someone is a dick.

Seriously?

VicNebulous So we're supposed to believe what? That the conservatives are lying when they attend Tea Parties and tell us that they think Obama is a Kenyan born Muslim terrorist lover?

They say this stuff themselves. Either we believe that they're lying when they say this stuff (and why would they do that?) or we accept that they actually, genuinely, for real, do believe all the crazy crap they say.

I work with these people. The only thing that surprises me is that the answers didn't go 100% to the crazy position. One of my office mates is the chair of the local Teabagger movement, she believes every single one of the things here and I know this because she tells me about it.

I don't know where you live. I understand that in big cities conservatives are less common and tend not to believe crazy stuff. But out here in the less urban areas this is well and truly what they believe. They listen to Limbaugh and the others at work, eight solid hours of hate radio and lies, and that shapes their world. Yes, they really do believe the stuff they say.
posted by sotonohito at 7:28 AM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


I don't trust this poll and I hate how it was presented. It's agonizing seeing people lump together "Don't Know" with "Crazy-Ass answer." Don't know can mean I don't feel well enough informed on something. If I hadn't followed the basics of where Obama was born I might have said "I don't know" maybe he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.
Saying I don't know is a more appropriate response than saying, "I know nothing about this, but he must have been born in the US."
(Frankly, sometimes I wish I didn't hear the name Orly Taitz, birthers, etc.)
Other questions were poorly worded. "Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?" As twirlypen said above, it is quite reasonable that this should be taught in school. Not as scientific fact, but as the belief of a religion. I have nothing against teaching public school students about the Navajo's vision of four worlds.
The poll was one crazy-assed issue after another. If you don't wash out people's palates with enough reasonable questions you are going to get carry-over. A better done poll (and I hope one comes out) will have that, because people check their superegos when not only answering questions, but when making decisions.

I do believe that 20 - 30% of Republicans belong to the crazy wing (maybe 20 - 30% of Democrats belong to the other crazy wing). I do believe that it is possible another 30% of them are insufficiently informed on certain issues. But I don't believe 50+% are crazy fundamentalists.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:28 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Anything you hear O'Reilly, Limbaugh (or anybody for that matter) accuse someone of 9 times out of 10 it's because they are guilty of it themselves.
posted by any major dude at 7:29 AM on February 4, 2010


I don't think the abortion vs. death penalty one is all that weird. If you believe that a fetus is a person, then logically you believe abortion is murder. If you ask a bunch of people who think fetus=person about "killing babies" and "killing convicted felons", then it's no surprise to get these answers.

I don't know if it's related at all, but there doesn't seem to be much distinction between in womb and out of womb in the way we talk. People don't seem to say fetus all that much. People say baby. People say that the baby is kicking, the baby is coming and a miscarriage is often losing the baby. After the birth, it's still called the baby.
posted by ODiV at 7:30 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Mocking the people who vote for the opposing party, and specifically mocking their religious beliefs is a terrible way to win converts.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:35 AM on February 4, 2010


This isn't a very good poll. The obviously leading questions, the way non-committal answers are lumped in with "conservative" ones to buoy the final numbers, and the significant difference between its responses and those from similar studies by organizations like Gallup, makes it seem like it was really created for one purpose: to reinforce and confirm the feelings that the organization behind the study had about Republicans in the beginning.

I don't really see how anyone is going to learn anything good or useful here, and I'm not sure it's a particularly good post.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:45 AM on February 4, 2010


So the single most important thing is the question of whether or not someone qualifies as "being a dick" from your POV. Accuracy, reality, outcome of proposals and programs, etc are all irrelevant, the only factor worth discussing is whether or not you think someone is a dick.

I think that's overstating it a bit. My point was (and is) that being a dick is not dependent on or assuaged by being factually correct, and that both sides are equally guilty from time to time of being (for lack of a better word) dickish.

As it relates to this poll, I find the questions being asked and the manner of interpreting the answers seem to support a conclusion already reached, which is something I tend to file under 'being a dick.'
posted by Pragmatica at 7:52 AM on February 4, 2010


Quick point for people decrying DailyKos for its lack of objectivity: It doesn't in any way claim to be objective. DailyKos is an explicitly Democratic partisan site, and has never claimed otherwise. It is not the Fox News of the left because it doesn't pretend to be "fair and balanced." I'm always surprised when I see this sort of reasoning for dismissing dkos (which is extremely common), mainly because of what it says about American media expectations. It's like we think that everyone automatically claims to be "objective," even though we know that no one is.

The poll and full crosstabs are available, so feel free to pick it apart if you like. But dismissing it because Kos is a partisan is silly.
posted by rusty at 8:01 AM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


As it relates to this poll, I find the questions being asked and the manner of interpreting the answers seem to support a conclusion already reached, which is something I tend to file under 'being a dick.'

This poll may or may not have problems in its methodology so big that they make it worthless — I don't know. And people on the left may be responding to its findings in dickish ways — of course. But it just seems an incredibly weird view of the political landscape to conclude that, if it does have some truth value, the most important thing about it is anything other than the hallucinatory craziness that seems to have infected a good chunk of the US political spectrum. The dickishness has always been there on both sides. That's not the case, I reckon, when it comes to the apparent widespread belief in verifiably wrong facts on the right. No way is that a "detail" of the current situation.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 8:02 AM on February 4, 2010


Conceptives.

Actually I take Neoconceptives. One a day, dissolved in a glass of reality. Keeps me from believing there's a single elected federal official in America today, with the possible exception of Dennis Kucinich, who could possibly be considered socialist or even truly left-wing by any objective measure.
posted by gompa at 8:05 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Do you believe that the only way for an individual to go to heaven is though Jesus Christ, or can one make it to heaven through another faith?

You know what? There's really no way for me to discuss my theological believes in the context of a 3-choice question.

That said, whining about how Kos is "biased" is a lot of, well, whining. The point of the poll was to elucidate the fact that, when pressed, "mainstream" Republican belief is pretty darn off the wall: in favor of banning contraception, a bizarre affection for Sarah Palin, etc. Getting upset at liberal bias because someone pointed this out isn't really pertinent.
posted by deanc at 8:08 AM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


That would have been a lot easier to read without the relentless editorialising between the questions. After a while I just skipped it.
posted by no_moniker at 8:09 AM on February 4, 2010


While this is pretty clearly not anything resembling an objective non-partisan poll, and I am soundly unconvinced that this is at all an accurate reflection of the opinions of most Republicans, something stood out when I looked at the cross-tabs. The categories that were more likely to give the extremist answers (men, white, south) were also the categories that said they were most likely to vote - and the less extremist groups (women, other/ref, NE) were the least likely to vote.

So, although these results are being presented as "Republicans are crazy, amirite?," I think the more legitimate lesson here is "Crazy Republicans vote and reasonable Republicans don't." Of course, rabid supporters of any position are always likely to shout louder and be more politically active than the masses of people who strongly believe in "meh." That's why higher voter turnout is generally desirable - it mutes the crazies and gets closer to what the bulk of citizens actually want.
posted by Dojie at 8:13 AM on February 4, 2010


Should public school students be taught that the book of Genesis in the Bible explains how God created the world?

is reasonable enough. I would have thought any child educated in the US would need at least a workable knowledge of Christianity...


Fuck that. Schools can teach kids things that are true. Their parents can teach them about Santa Claus.

Uneducated people are just easier to control.

They're a bunch of recalcitrant anarchists compared to the mis-educated majority.
posted by klanawa at 8:25 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think my favorite part is the way they go to split screen to show Rove for about 2 whole minutes before O'Reilly actually lets him even say anything, so we just get to just watch the sorta-gassy looking Rove sit there somewhat uncomfortably while Bill blah blah blahs.
posted by kingbenny at 8:29 AM on February 4, 2010


we're both being dicks, regardless of which of us has the facts on our side.

This results in a common tactic, where one side will taunt and lie until the other makes a snappy response, then claim "see, we're all the same, and so our viewpoints have equal validity."
posted by Nothing at 8:41 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think the comparison between Kos's results (with 3 options) and the Gallup poll of 8 months ago (with 2 options) shows that when forced to choose between black and white, the "not sure" Republicans tend to come down on the more liberal side of the issues. This is the opposite to what Kos assumes when analysing the latest poll results, where "not sure"s are in every case counted alongside the more extreme conservative answers.
I think the "not sure" answers could be interpreted any way one wanted to look at them. But yes, Kos is looking at this in the worst possible light for conservatives. And yes this poll looks pretty flawed (like every poll, really) by the questions, and by the demographics of responders in relation to the general population. It is illustrative of...something, though. I'd bet you could tone it down a little and it would still generally hold true.


People like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly hate Palin and have an even bigger contempt for her mouth-breathing followers than the "Liberals."

I know this isn't true of Limbaugh, at least publicly. On air, he raves about her, and accuses "the liberals" of fearing her and wanting to destroy her. I'll tell you what. I'm a liberal, and I don't fear her, so much as I fear how many people actually admire her. The motivation of the nutbaggiest wing of the right for the next election is scary in comparison to the apathy of the left. Seems we could only get worked up after eight years of hell, and already we're complacent again.
posted by Red Loop at 8:44 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


The point of the poll was to elucidate the fact that, when pressed, "mainstream" Republican belief is pretty darn off the wall

Well, if that was the point of the poll, then they really should have put some more effort into it and check if the "wall" actually is where they think it is. Take gay marriage, for instance - while it's true that Democrats are more likely to support gay marriage than not, it's only by a small margin; majority of Americans oppose it. According to another Gallup poll, pretty much half of American population does not believe in evolution; and while Democrats are more likely to believe in it, a significant minority of them don't.
posted by daniel_charms at 8:49 AM on February 4, 2010


Extremely stupid poll, a good reminder of why I find daily KOS unreadable.

In short -- assholes I generally agree with are much more irritating than idiots I generally disagree with.
posted by the bricabrac man at 8:50 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


sotonohito: "So the single most important thing is the question of whether or not someone qualifies as "being a dick" from your POV. Accuracy, reality, outcome of proposals and programs, etc are all irrelevant, the only factor worth discussing is whether or not you think someone is a dick."

It is worth mentioning, though, that he is being a dick here. He's intentionally skewing the poll results to crazy by lumping noncommittal people in, and his comments after each results talking about how nuts that is do nothing to engender him to me.
posted by graventy at 8:58 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Reading this thread, I'm losing hope for the survival of liberalism.

When merely pointing out what the other side actually believes is considered beyond the pale, what hope can there be for changing things for the better?

Kos conducted a poll which revealed that yes, contrary to the hopes and dreams of liberals, conservatives really do believe the stuff they say they believe. This shouldn't be surprising, you have only to attend a Tea Party and listen to find out what conservatives believe.

For the dread crime of determining and publicizing what conservatives actually believe, Kos is a dick, an asshole, unreadable, and a very bad person indeed.

W.T.F. people?

I'm sorry if it hurts your big city liberal feelings to accept that yes, they really do think what Limbaugh says, but that's what we like to call reality. Maybe this is a shock to most of you, because you've never had to talk to an actual conservative before, I don't know. But this is not shocking to anyone who has spoken to actual conservatives.

How is merely recording and publishing what conservatives actually believe so bad? What exactly is it that makes this a horrible crime on the part of Kos? What makes him an asshole here?

If the answer is "they can't possibly really believe that stuff", then I think you need to reevaluate your take on reality. Go attend your local Tea Party. Yes, they do really believe that stuff. Saying so does not make you an asshole. They do believe this stuff and that's why they're too dangerous to let back into power, that's why despite all my objections to the Democratic party I keep voting for them. Because yes, no fooling, Republicans really do believe that stuff.
posted by sotonohito at 8:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [15 favorites]


I've never understood the liberal mockery of someone being against abortions but for the death penalty. Being against the death of babies but for the death of murderers requires no contradictions in logic. I'm for legalized abortion because I don't believe that a fetus is a human life, and I'm (more or less) against the death penalty due to flaws in our judicial system. But that doesn't have anything to do with the mockery and mouths agape above. If we're reducing the argument to ridiculous simplicity, then surely "I'm for the killing of babies but not murderers" is more questionable than the opposite.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:03 AM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Kos conducted a poll which revealed that yes, contrary to the hopes and dreams of liberals, conservatives really do believe the stuff they say they believe.

Well, they conducted an extremely flawed poll which revealed that some conservatives believe a certain set of things, but it's difficult to go from there to "this is what [all or most] Republicans believe." It may be that, but they certainly haven't come close to demonstrating it, and the poll seems to have been conducted with the goal in mind of confirming the pollsters' suspicions.

You could -- and conservative organizations frequently do -- conduct a similar poll on self-described Democrats or Liberals, and make them out to be Marxists (or, more damagingly, soft on terrorists or pedophiles), if you phrased the questions in just the right way, and threw in ambiguous answers with the desired ones.

It's LOLREPUBLICANS / five-minutes-hate, and I don't see anyone learning anything from it that they didn't already know.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Being against the death of babies but for the death of murderers requires no contradictions in logic.

Arguing for the sanctity of life for some-but-not-others requires drawing lines in an arbitrary and contradictory way, by logical necessity. How could it be otherwise?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Do you believe the birth control pill is abortion?

Yes 34
No 48
Not Sure 18


So... this would be the same 1/3rd that got the abstinence-only sex-education classes?
posted by quin at 9:17 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure what is particularly efficient about having hundreds of thousands of school districts, each duplicating the same bureaucracies, overpaid board members, expensive buildings, etc. each reinventing the same wheels about what textbooks to buy, what curriculum to teach, etc.

That's because you're focusing on the wrong part of the sentence. Instead, look at "I'm not sure", but instead of thinking about it as a sarcastic way to say "I am completely sure that the following is wrong", try to realize instead that it is literally true, for everyone else as well as for you, as a fundamental fact of life.

"I'm not sure." We're not sure what the best way to motivate kids is. We're not sure how to make sure their parents and peers act as positive influences. We're not sure that the best way is to teach the motivated kids. We're not sure how best to prioritize all the things we might teach them. We're not sure how to test how well they've learned. We're not sure how to keep them or their teachers or their schools from gaming the tests. We're not sure how to find bureaucrats who will faithfully and competently solve all those problems, or how to elect politicians who will hire those bureaucrats. There are hundreds of thousands of different, apparently reasonable answers, and the only way to learn more about which ones are truly reasonable is to give them all a chance to be tried. Because when we do try them, and we have enough hindsight to compare the results afterward, we have a history of discovering that some the obvious things we thought we were sure about turned out to be completely wrong.

And, although we're also not entirely sure what the alternative to "I'm not sure" is, we have seen some evidence. Does anyone here want to defend No Child Left Behind? I've never met a teacher who will. How about some praise for DC schools, where a budget far in excess of the national average is combined with an uncomplicated mandate for federal control? And yet the only reason we need the force of law to make local school districts copy DC policies is that we know they're not going to want to do so voluntarily.

Yes, it is tragic that when left to their own devices some school districts will ruin their teaching of evolutionary biology. It's also sad that freedom of religion will lead to cults, freedom of speech will promote political mistakes, privacy rights will lead to unconvicted criminals, property rights make it harder to give to poor people, and ending Prohibition made it easier for some people to become alcoholics and ruin their lives. But letting people make their own decisions is the price of admitting "I'm not sure", and over and over again, we've seen that the consequences of "I'm sure" can be even worse.
posted by roystgnr at 9:25 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


graventy Sorry, should have previewed.

I'll agree Kos is being somewhat disingenuous in places, but I do think lumping the "don't know" with the crazy is perfectly appropriate in other places.

When someone answers "don't know" to the question "Do you believe Barack Obama was born in the United States, or not?" to me that implies that they seem to think Orly Taitz deserves the benefit of the doubt, that she may have some valid arguments worth considering, etc. And that plunks them firmly into the "willing to believe literally insane stuff due to their politics" column.

I suppose it is vaguely possible that some people are simply so ignorant that they are unaware of the false controversy the Republicans have been trying to stir up, that they don't know that in order to be president one must be born in the USA, and they just honestly don't know where Obama was born. I posit that such people must either be living in caves or be too stupid to comprehend and answer poll questions on the telephone and therefore we can safely assume that none of them are involved in the poll.
posted by sotonohito at 9:35 AM on February 4, 2010


Most of the normal Republicans I know self-identify as Independent. It's part of their complex. It says, "I am *such* a thinking individual that I transcend party boundaries, and I will *always* vote for the most qualified candidate... they just always happen to be Republican." It's tiresome. But I think it probably helps to undermine this study, since even those insufferable Republicans don't actually identify as Republican (heck, half of them identify as Democrats!), leaving only the truly crazy people self-identifying as Republican.
posted by greekphilosophy at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


the poll seems to have been conducted with the goal in mind of confirming the pollsters' suspicions.

That is the central flaw of this poll and of the dKos article. As it states in its introduction:
I'm putting the finishing touches on my new book, American Taliban, which catalogues the ways in which modern-day conservatives share the same agenda as radical Jihadists in the Islamic world. But I found myself making certain claims about Republicans that I didn't know if they could be backed up. So I thought, "why don't we ask them directly?" And so, this massive poll, by non-partisan independent pollster Research 2000 of over 2,000 self-identified Republicans, was born.
Kos desired a poll which would confirm things he had already written, and he got exactly that. There was no real poll-taking science used in formulating these questions. There were no (as they've been called earlier) palate-cleansing questions, there was no attempt at framing the questions in a way which would not push the responses toward confirmation of what Kos needed to have confirm. I don't think this is a "pull poll" per se, but it is pretty much a borderline case, with poorly framed questions, answer selections designed to lump together a variety of possible motivations for choosing that answer, etc.

It does underscore the desire by non-Republicans to stand outside and laugh and point, without any real clarity or sophistication at all. And for those on the OTHER side, it only serves to underscore their own prejudices that anyone who isn't Republican considers them only objects worth mocking, and subsequently inspires them to dig in their heels and become more resolute in their belief set.
posted by hippybear at 9:36 AM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Grrrr. "push poll. push poll" Edit window, please?
posted by hippybear at 9:38 AM on February 4, 2010


Yes, it's certainly odd that the poll is pulling results so different (on the gays in the military) than the Gallup one. Certainly you'd expect differences between straight-up queries like this asks instead of the more usual "Do you support or oppose or..." style of question, but a shift that big seems odd.

He's intentionally skewing the poll results to crazy by lumping noncommittal people in,

But many of these questions are such that a noncommittal response is crazy.

If someone asks you whether Flintstone Kids are controlling the world through mind control lasers and free sex orgies, then if you are not sure the answer is "No," you are bonkers.

If someone asks you whether Obama was born in the US, any hesitancy to say "Yes" is, objectively, nuts.

If someone asks you whether Obama wants the terrorists to win, any hesitancy to say "No" is, objectively, nuts.

If you are not sure that ACORN didn't steal the 2008 election, you are, objectively, nuts.

If you are not sure that your state shouldn't secede from the US, you are, objectively, nuts.

The numbers for noncommittal responses to a question like that should be down in the single digits, people who for whatever misbegotten reason can't understand the question.

his comments after each results talking about how nuts that is do nothing to engender him to me

Markos Moulitsas is a dude, whether to you or anyone else.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:49 AM on February 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


I just don't have the time to rad all these snarky comments but ask one question:

Do people with a background in statistic say this poll is an accurate representation of Republicans or is the sample too small or not at all representative?
posted by Postroad at 9:52 AM on February 4, 2010


The chilling part to me is what Nate Silver points out: these right-wingers are marching in lockstep. Across the various demographic categories there is very little change in response. They're a bloc, unlike the cobbled-together clusterfuck of the Democratic Party. That they are a small bloc that is ever-shrinking as old white people shuffle off this mortal coil is cold comfort, since district gerrymandering and the disproportionate power wielded by senators from sparsely populated states means their small bloc has a poltical voice that far outweighs their size. Add to that a 24-hour propaganda network and a bunch of Southern Blue Dogs and you've got a recipe for stasis. Stasis means that the GOP can be as obstructionist as they want to be and get rewarded for it.

Democrats have to have to HAVE TO come together, put aside their quibbles, and work as one to implement the kind of progressive agenda that will undermine the GOP's hold on working-class voters. But I have no hope, NONE, that that will happen, because as it stands, Washington politics is a zero-sum game where compromise is akin to career suicide.

I don't see a way out of this. But for what little it is worth, on behalf of us few Southern liberals, I am so sorry that our little corner of the nation is the anchor dragging down the rest. I vote! I do! Really! But it's tantamount to pissing in the ocean.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:58 AM on February 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


If someone asks you whether Flintstone Kids are controlling the world through mind control lasers and free sex orgies, then if you are not sure the answer is "No," you are bonkers.

Or you are Socrates.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:01 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Postroad I'm not a stat head, but I did take a few courses back during my CS days, and I can answer the "too small" part of your question: absolutely not.

The real question is proper randomness in getting your sample, not sample size. Given the US population 2,000 is about right for sample size. More than that would be a waste of resources. Look at the fine print on Gallup polls or any other national polls and you'll see that they typically use a sample size of around 2,000.

The real question as far as statistical accuracy goes is "how random was the sample?" And unfortunately the answer is "not as random as it should be, but more would be awfully expensive". This poll was done over the telephone, and that means landline telephone because of laws prohibiting polls on cell phones. Which means you've automatically eliminated huge segments of the population, and harmed your randomness. Homeless people don't have phones, guys like me don't have landlines, etc.

The non-stats side of the accuracy question is, of course, the questions themselves. Ideally you'd have someone rephrase your questions, rotate positive and negative phrasing of the questions, etc. It looks like Kos didn't do that, which does harm the accuracy, but I don't know enough about polling to know how much.
posted by sotonohito at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2010


sotonohito: Reading this thread, I'm losing hope for the survival of liberalism. When merely pointing out what the other side actually believes is considered beyond the pale, what hope can there be for changing things for the better?

Exactly. If Birtherism and Communismphobia wins the next election, it'll be because the Republican base were insane, and everyone else thought it was somehow bad form (ie. "LOLREPUBLICANS", "dickish") to point out the truth.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 10:03 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


If someone asks you whether Flintstone Kids are controlling the world through mind control lasers and free sex orgies, then if you are not sure the answer is "No," you are bonkers.

BETTER MIND CONTROL THROUGH FLINTSTONE VITAMINS! WAKE UP SHEEPLE!
posted by zarq at 10:07 AM on February 4, 2010


Arguing for the sanctity of life for some-but-not-others requires drawing lines in an arbitrary and contradictory way, by logical necessity. How could it be otherwise?

Huh? There's nothing arbitrary in the line between baby and murderer.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:12 AM on February 4, 2010


No. Just no. Obama's not a socialist by any stretch of the imagination. A lot of the social democrats in Europe have basically given up and become centrist liberals, but that doesn't mean Obama is a social democrat. He's a centrist, with strictly centrist ideological commitments. On health care – where any socialist or social democrat will support a single-payer system – Obama went with an ideologically centrist position of government regulation. Read this, which quotes Norman Thomas (the last great social democratic figure in the US), on exactly how little socialism there was in New Deal liberalism, and then consider that Obama is pretty much economically to the right of the New Dealers.

Calling Norman Thomas a social democrat eliminates any distinction between that and socialism. In his presidential campaign Obama stated that if he was starting from scratch he would favor a single payer system.
posted by BigSky at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2010


There's nothing arbitrary in the line between baby and murderer.

The arbitrariness is how a state comes to decide what is (human) life and whether and how that governing body should sanction the end of a life. If that line is drawn anywhere, then the sanctity of life is, by definition, no longer an intact ideal.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:16 AM on February 4, 2010


ROU_Xenophobe: "Markos Moulitsas is a dude, whether to you or anyone else."

Gah, touché. How about his comments after each results talking about how nuts that is do nothing but make him seem smug and arrogant.

It just reads like a very disingenuous poll, designed to make them look crazy, to sell his book on how crazy they are.
posted by graventy at 10:21 AM on February 4, 2010


Do people with a background in statistic say this poll is an accurate representation of Republicans or is the sample too small or not at all representative?

There are statistics and non-statistical elements of this.

The poll is not too small.

Given their pretty strong randomization, the poll is more or less by definition representative of the population it is randomly sampled out of: people with phones, who consented to be interviewed, who self-identified as Republican. The only real element here of potential major unrepresentativeness is survey response bias: if Republicans who were willing to be interviewed are crazier than those that weren't, the responses will be biased towards crazy.

sotonohito: it isn't clear whether they're including or excluding cell phones. They're using a random dialer. So unless they have a list of cell numbers to exclude, they'll get some people without landlines, and everyone who switched their old landline number to a mobile. In any case, I don't think it's illegal to poll cells anymore -- the gallup poll says they had cell respondents.

Anyway, you can be pretty damn certain that if you rounded up everyone in America who was a self-identified Republican with a phones and who was willing to be surveyed and asked them these exact questions, the answers they would give would be very close to the answers in the poll.

A lot more of what you think of as "accuracy" is more a matter of question wording, question ordering, and so on. Asking "Should gays be allowed to serve?" will get different responses from "Do you favor or oppose letting gays serve," which will get different responses from "Some people favor allowing gays to serve. Others oppose this. Which is closer to what you think?"
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:24 AM on February 4, 2010


You could -- and conservative organizations frequently do -- conduct a similar poll on self-described Democrats or Liberals, and make them out to be Marxists (or, more damagingly, soft on terrorists or pedophiles), if you phrased the questions in just the right way, and threw in ambiguous answers with the desired ones.
I'm not sure I understand how, for example, "Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election" or "Should Barack Obama be impeached, or not" are "phrased in just the right way"; how would you suggest that they could be phrased better, in order to make the results more accurate?

And I'm not sure why throwing in "not sure" as an allowed answer is apparently horrible, and the other answers -- "yes" and "no" -- are not "ambiguous".

To make out the majority of Democrats to be Marxists, you could, for example, make a poll that asks something like "Do you think the government should use taxpayer money to pay for welfare and social security", and then breathlessly announce that 93% of Democrats think that the government should redistribute wealth, just like Marx!

I'm not sure how that's similar to directly asking "Do you think ACORN stole the 2008 election, yes or no", and I'm not sure why "yes, no, or not sure" is worse than "yes or no". Can you please explain?
posted by Flunkie at 10:26 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


If someone asks you whether Flintstone Kids are controlling the world through mind control lasers and free sex orgies

Man now I wish I had taken my vitamins like Mom said.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2010


[i]Mocking the people who vote for the opposing party, and specifically mocking their religious beliefs is a terrible way to win converts.[/i]

You know what? If someone believes that the Christian God created the world and everything in it in seven days, 6000 years ago, I am not terribly interested in adding them to my side. I'd rather have intelligent people. I'm sorry if that's rude or dickish, but I'm really sick of this idea that it's impolite to point out basic goddamn facts to people for fear of hurting their feelings.
posted by Legomancer at 10:28 AM on February 4, 2010 [8 favorites]


The arbitrariness is how a state comes to decide what is (human) life and whether and how that governing body should sanction the end of a life. If that line is drawn anywhere, then the sanctity of life is, by definition, no longer an intact ideal.

Sorry, I don't see the hypocrisy, because I can allow for some nuance to the phrase "sanctity of life" (which wasn't a part of the original argument anyway). Again, I see plenty of flaws in the conservative argument, I just don't see this particular aspect of it as hypocritical.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2010


Survey methodologist student here:

The poll is ok. Really. Most of the questions in the poll are not "leading questions (Kadin2048)," or push polling and the methodology appears sound. First the questions: an example of a leading question would be; "In 2005, 75% of the 10,100 homicides committed using firearms in the United States were committed using handguns, do you favor more stringent handgun regulations?n Y/N?" The question leads to a particular answer, and is full of truthy facts that beg an answer. Planned Parenthood is notorious for this sort of thing.

For example: their question "Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and learn English?" is asking them to evaluate one of the recent & major proposed reforms to immigration law. A-OK.

And how would you make: "Do you consider abortion to be murder?" a better question IF you want to know Rep ublicans specific views on if abortion is murder? It looks like there is no gray area because that is a fundamental aspect of the Republican platform - black and white positions. Push polling on the other hand looks like this: "Would you be more likely or less likely to vote for John McCain for president if you knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child?" That's pushy.

I spend a lot of time addressing exactly Navelgazer's point about what is a better question for a particular issue. Asking "How would you best describe Obama's political position? Fascist/etc /Socialist//etc.?" is not "better" than "Do you believe Obama is a Socialist?" it is a different question that gets different information from the respondent. Believing Obama to be a socialist is an assertion that is most simply discovered by directly asking - simpler questions are generally better. It's not pushy, just simplistic, which says more about contemporary Republican thinking than it does about this poll. Navelgazer's question is richer and provides a better depth of view, but their question shoots straight for the target opinion.

Now for the methodology: the polling firm handling the methodology is Research 2000, is well regarded by Nate Silver. They used the common method for getting all of those unlisted folks - "Those interviewed were selected by the random variation of the last four digits of telephone numbers, nationally" (bottom of page here) This phone poll represents a relatively accurate estimation of self -identified Republicans across the country - 2000 is more than enough respondents.*

Valid Criticisms: folks seeking to compare this one to Gallup are on the right track - why are there differences? To answer - the question is different as Red Loop noted, and this poll only asked SELF identifying Republicans, Gallop may have defined Republican as leaners & sympathizers, who are rather different groups of people.

To summarize: those who think this isn't "scientific" are mistaken, this really is how public opinion is taken and measured.

*Qualifications: my evaluation is only based on the information provided and my reservations about it include the fact that they do not note if or how the data was weighted. The only way of estimating people without phone lines (ie young folks with cell phones) would be to weigh the data in some fashion. However, this is a minor (although growing) issue and should not be construed as undermining the validity of the entire poll.
posted by zenon at 10:37 AM on February 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


Most of the normal Republicans I know self-identify as Independent. It's part of their complex. It says, "I am *such* a thinking individual that I transcend party boundaries, and I will *always* vote for the most qualified candidate... they just always happen to be Republican." It's tiresome

Most of the Republicans I know that do so, do so because, in this admittedly leftist town, to say you're a Republican immediately invites the "LOL, Palin birther!" mockery so loved by a certain part of the left.
posted by madajb at 10:37 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Every poll is unscientific? Every poll is flawed? That is apologist bullshit. Some polls are significantly more representative than others. This poll is awful at doing what it purports to do but great at making liberals feel pissed off and superior and frightened. So I suppose it's a success.
posted by kathrineg at 10:40 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wow sotonohito --never expected to be dismissed as a big city liberal by another liberal!

Next time put in a bit about arugala, that always results in high quality discussions.
posted by kathrineg at 10:49 AM on February 4, 2010


Is there an overlap between people who believe in "right to life" because it's in the Declaration of Independence and people who don't believe there's a right to privacy because it's not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution?
posted by kirkaracha at 10:50 AM on February 4, 2010


If you determine the 'Bin Laden determined to attack' memo as a strong warning that Bush did nothing about, than Bush 'let it happen".

Hey, now, I think "did nothing" is a little harsh. He told the briefer, "you've covered your ass, now" and cut brush for a month before ending his vacation. Of course, if it had been something really important he would've cut his vacation short and rushed back to Washington.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:59 AM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


kathrineg wrote: "Next time put in a bit about arugala, that always results in high quality discussions."

And here is where I mention that arugula is very tasty and if someone thinks that eating it every once in a while indicates one's political persuasion, they are an idiot and should be treated as such.
posted by wierdo at 11:02 AM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what? If someone believes that the Christian God created the world and everything in it in seven days, 6000 years ago, I am not terribly interested in adding them to my side.

What if they were reasonably intelligent (if misinformed) people? Would you be interested then? Would it be worth your time to attempt to educate them rather than sneering at them? The question isn't rhetorical.

I'd rather have people thinking and trying to make other people think than pointing at the ones who feel more than they think and screaming 'fucktard!'

'cause that doesn't, you know, work.
posted by Pragmatica at 11:05 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Given that a significant part of the Republican base believes in batshitinsane and STUPID things, LOLRepublicans is not unwarranted and indeed, well-deserved. The Republican party has allowed abominably ignorant and hateful people to take control of its party and, as a result, the nation. This has not done your nation any favours whatsoever.

IMO you should not only be LOLing at those dumbfucks at every opportunity, you should probably also be beating them with cluebyfours before they drag you, personally, into the shitter.

In very literal terms, the Republic of Dumbfuckistan is a clear and present danger to your very life: you are at risk of increased terrorism, at risk of not receiving medical treatment, and at risk of harm from reduced health and safety standards.

Don't tolerate the dumbfucks.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:06 AM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


This poll is awful at doing what it purports to do but great at making liberals feel pissed off and superior and frightened. So I suppose it's a success.
Can you please explain why it's awful at doing what it purports to do?

It purports, for example, to show that something like 63% of self-identified Republicans believe that Barack Obama is a socialist.

The reason it purports to show that is because calling up a whole bunch of people at random, and directly asking them "Do you think Barack Obama is a socialist?", resulted in 63% of self-identified Republicans saying "yes".

Can you please explain why this is an "awful" method to try to figure out how prevalent the opinion that Barack Obama is a socialist is, among self-identified Republicans?
posted by Flunkie at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Don't tolerate the dumbfucks.

No. Reject stupidity when you see it, I'll buy that, but to identify the stupidity and the person as the same thing is to make an enemy and a mistake at the same time.
posted by Pragmatica at 11:10 AM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I wish they would have asked what Obama should be impeached FOR. That would be very telling I think.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:11 AM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


It seems to me that in regard to "bias" the key phrase here isn't what kos asked, but that the poll was restricted to "self-identifying Republicans."

A Washington Post poll in April revealed that only 21 percent of voters called themselves Republicans. About 35 percent or so said Democrats. The rest are independents. Granted this likely increased over the year but even generously, let's say only 35% of voters to begin with call themselves Republican. That's a vast gap between die-hards and McCain voters.

I've joked before about how the bulk of Libertarians are just Republicans who want to avoid the stigma of being grouped in with... well, exactly the people kos has revealed in this poll. Let's face it: Republicans are a lousy brand right now. Even the Republican victories have been proven in polls as perceived opposition to Obama or rejection of Democratic failure, not actual support of the GOP platform.

This isn't a really revealing poll to me, shock attempts regardless. It's not really a surprise that while the bulk of people who vote Republican don't necessarily think like this, the bulk of people who proudly call themselves Republican do.

Considering that, whining that there's some heavy "bias" seems to be whinging from both sides about not hearing what they want to hear- that there's a hefty percentage of Palin-loving lunatics in the modern American right is disturbing to both sides, for different reasons.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:33 AM on February 4, 2010


I totally agree-- the poll asked the wrong questions. Fortunately, another poll didn't, finding that Republicans are rooting for the Colts, while Democrats and Independents favor the Saints. In the battle of the Saints versus the Bad Horses, looks like the Republicans are on the side of the Evil League of Evil.

I'm a Vikings fan.
posted by norm at 11:39 AM on February 4, 2010


Just to clarify, my point being that people who vote Republican and people who want to call themselves Republican are two vastly different groups- and the people who call themselves Republican by and large would be people who actually want the Republican agenda- or their belief of what it is- to be enacted. So the high percentages of those desires aren't as much a "surprise" or "shock" to me as they are "making perfect statistical sense."

A large percentage of people who identify with a group that supports something, support that thing. Film at 11.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:39 AM on February 4, 2010


profess to be against abortion on the grounds that it's murder yet in favor of the death penalty?

It makes more sense when it is viewed as a form of fetus idolatry

Fetus idolatry. Seriously?

I agree that the death penalty is inherently problematic, but you can't think of any other potential differentiation between an unborn child and people up for the death penalty other than "fetus idolatry?"

Solid evidence that craziness and fuzzy thinking isn't just a feature of the right.
posted by weston at 12:03 PM on February 4, 2010


I love the variety of reasons represented in this thread for rejecting this poll. Especially the one just upthread there, that it doesn't accurately represent what Republicans think because it is limited to Republicans.

It really does seem like the majority-liberal MeFi audience is scared shitless at the idea that this really is what Republicans think. It is. The sooner you come to grips with that, the better off we'll all be.
posted by rusty at 12:05 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


One of the worst mistakes Democrats ever made was abandoning evangelicals to the GOP. There is a case to be made that the interests of evangelical voters are more closely aligned with the progressive agenda than with the GOP, especially on issues of poverty, environmentalism, and social justice. Unfortunately, the time to make that case was two generations ago, and because progressives and liberals would rather point and laugh at the fundies instead of seeking common ground and engaging in the kind of church-based base-building that the GOP does so well, we lost that fight without ever knowing we were in it in the first place.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:20 PM on February 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


kathrineg Wasn't trying to be dismissive, and "big city" is relevant. Large urban areas are pretty much the only places where liberalism is normative. You know that tired old joke about how Pennsylvania is Pittsburgh on one end and Philly on the other and Alabama in between? It's true, and it's true about everywhere. Outside major metropolitan areas America is Alabama.

People, especially liberal people, who live in major metropolitan areas tend to forget (if they ever knew) how crazy Alabama the rest of the country is. Liberals living in big cities are quite likely to have very few, if any, major interactions with conservatives.

If you haven't spoken with conservatives, and by that I mean "in a setting they feel safe and comfortable expressing opinions they know will be disliked by liberals" it's easy to dismiss this poll because you think no one can be that crazy.

Out here in Alabama that comforting illusion is brutally ripped away. I live outside a major metropolitan area, in Alabama in other words, and I'm here to tell you that this poll accurately reflects what I see on a daily basis. If anything it under represents the crazy.

All the Tea Party crap you see on TV? All that crazy stuff you'd like to think is just a lunatic fringe, or people being deliberately obnoxious to tweak us liberals? It is real. Out here they listen to right wing radio eight hours a day, at work that is, and that forms their reality. Yes, really. Eight solid hours of Beck, Limbaugh etc. And they agree with them. On everything.

In major metropolitan areas we're the majority and the conservative minority tends to tone things down a little. My only point in referring to big city liberals is that those of us fortunate to fall into that category have the luxury of thinking this poll is wrong, of thinking that Kos is being deliberately nasty. Us liberals out here in Alabama know better.

ROU_Xenophobe Didn't know you could poll cell phones these days, thanks for correcting my error.

weston They don't care about life qua life, we know that. They don't give a damn about babies after they are born, we need only to look at their virulent hatred of all forms of child welfare to establish that. They like fetuses, but the instant they're born they become welfare queens and the subject of scorn and hate.

Now, I will admit that "fetus idolater" doesn't capture the full breadth of the so-called "pro-life" movement, it says nothing of their pathological hatred of sex, for example. But it's a good enough term.
posted by sotonohito at 12:32 PM on February 4, 2010 [14 favorites]


“The numbers for noncommittal responses to a question like that should be down in the single digits, people who for whatever misbegotten reason can't understand the question.”
I don’t have a problem with the poll. I don’t know enough about polling methodology to weigh in.
I will say though there’s a huge disconnect between what people believe and what they know.
This is not to excuse anyone. Because someone who believes Obama should be impeached because he’s pro-terrorist will act in such a way as to make that happen when possible. So there’s no real difference in the upshot.
The difference though is it’s always by remote control.
I don’t think many people, of whatever stripe, in the U.S. have had their beliefs tested or even done any self-examination on them.
They support the death penalty – but how many would take responsibility for taking another human life?
They don’t want gays in the military – but how many have actually ever served?
Don’t mind secession – because who the hell gets involved with their local government enough to understand exactly the civic SNAFU that would entail?
Don’t like unions – because they’ve never been in one, and don’t want the responsibility of someone trusting them with their livelihood (see civics, military service).
So I think the “should women work outside the home” question is instructive. It’s the only place where most people have any connection with reality and understand the need for responsibility.
That’s not just the GOP, most Americans are fat, dumb and happy. Metaphorically speaking. We do have a lot of luxuries. One of which is we are not disabused from many of our silly notions by reality. And there is little effort to do so. And typically lots to keep it that way (O'Reilly for example. His principles are mercenary.)

I find that, that kind of systemic problem, more disturbing than the actual substance of whatever it is people believe.

I hear scientologists believe in Xenu and alien spacecraft 747s that fly into volcanos and whatnot. That doesn’t mean as much to me as the time and money I hear they siphon from people and the support to spread that as a system. (Can’t say I know that for certain in every case, but I digress.)
So I think it's more important to show the reality and sustain that within the system (political, educational, etc) and reveal that self-interest.
Someone still doesn't listen, well what, you shoot 'em? You can only do what you can with what you have. We should probably change what we have a bit.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:37 PM on February 4, 2010


and I'm here to tell you that this poll accurately reflects what I see on a daily basis. If anything it under represents the crazy.

Can this be highlighted, bolded, blinking, and neon green on a bright pink background in 200 pt type?

There are so many liberals who just cannot accept this. People who live outside the south and midwest have no idea. They really don't. They think they do, but they are terribly mistaken.

Why is it so hard to accept that almost half the country is made up of ignorant bigots? Wishful thinking?

The fact that Obama didn't carry 70% of the popular vote should make you VERY concerned.
posted by discountfortunecookie at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


What Rusty said. For those of you attacking this poll: what percentage of Republicans do you THINK believe these things? I doubt it's more than 5% off on any one question.
posted by msalt at 12:47 PM on February 4, 2010


The fact that Obama didn't carry 70% of the popular vote should make you VERY concerned.

Oh please. No one has ever carried 70% of the popular vote in a modern U.S. election. The greatest landslide, by popular vote, was Johnson's 61.1% to Goldwater's 38.5% in 1964. Even when Reagan won the greatest landslide in electoral votes in 1984 (525 to 13), his share of the popular vote was 58.8%.
posted by scody at 12:51 PM on February 4, 2010


I'm a little surprised that the idea that George Bush could be prosecuted for war crimes is considered self-evidently ridiculous. I understand that you guys are mostly from the US and that it's hard to think of one's own country's actions in these terms, but the Iraq war was a war of choice, against a country that had committed no hostile act. From Wikipedia:

"A war of aggression is a military conflict waged without the justification of self-defense. Waging such a war of aggression is a war crime under the customary international law. It is generally agreed by scholars in international law that the military actions of the Nazi regime in World War II in its search for so-called "Lebensraum" are characteristic of a war of aggression."

Now, the question then becomes, did the leadership of the US really believe they were acting in self-defense. That's a question whose answer is not self-evidently "Yes".
posted by Bayey at 12:55 PM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


blazecock: The arbitrariness is how a state comes to decide what is (human) life and whether and how that governing body should sanction the end of a life. If that line is drawn anywhere, then the sanctity of life is, by definition, no longer an intact ideal.

I see what you're saying, and I'm pro-choice, but I don't think this is a contradiction either. The death penalty is a logically consistent exception because murderers have taken life; so the collective forces of good and life (represented by us righteous people and our representatives in government) can defend life against them by killing them. I imagine most Republicans would predict that murderers will kill more than 1 additional person in the future, whether in prison or out, so you even get a net lives saved effect.

fetus idolatry

No. But I do think there's a great hunger for a simple moral crusade, absolute right and wrong, in the Republican base and this is there cause. It seems so obvious -- I'm for life, and they're for DEATH. Of course like any absolute, it quickly gets absurd, so they can't allow crucial medical research on a handful of frozen blastocysts that will be thrown in the garbage otherwise, etc.
posted by msalt at 12:56 PM on February 4, 2010


arggh! their cause, not there cause
posted by msalt at 12:58 PM on February 4, 2010


Oh please. No one has ever carried 70% of the popular vote in a modern U.S. election.
No one, previous to Obama, ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin, after eight years of George W. Bush.
posted by Flunkie at 1:00 PM on February 4, 2010


I understand that you guys are mostly from the US and that it's hard to think of one's own country's actions in these terms

Thanks for painting us with such a broad brush, but plenty of us in the U.S. are perfectly able to see our government's actions in those terms, and fully agree that Bush et al. ought to be prosecuted for war crimes. Many of us also simultaneously recognize that, tragically, this is about as likely to happen as pigs flying out of our collective butts.

Such is life in the belly of the beast. We have great shopping, though. and hamburgers, too
posted by scody at 1:01 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


No one, previous to Obama, ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin, after eight years of George W. Bush.

I also think that Dubya was the greatest U.S. presidential disaster in the history of ever, and I agree that Sarah Palin is basically a narcissistic proto-fascist with great hair, but this is an overly simplistic formula by which to try to measure the infinitely more complex socio-political, economic, and cultural phenomena we find ourselves in the midst of.
posted by scody at 1:09 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


But letting people make their own decisions is the price of admitting "I'm not sure", and over and over again, we've seen that the consequences of "I'm sure" can be even worse.

And that is why in the history of the world, no good has ever been done when people pool together their energy and resources in service of a cause-because the sometimes terrible consequences of proceeding in the face of uncertainty dictate that everyone is on their own. Like when a city wants to build a bridge across a river, they just sit on their hands and hope for the best. "We are not sure of the absolute best way to build a bridge, so we are going to let people make their own decisions about getting themselves across the river." So, one hundred different bridge entrepreneurs come along.

Fifty six aren't financed well enough to buy textbooks and teachersbridge materials and construction workers. They hire some starving actors, who lead a group pantomime depicting what it would be like to cross a bridge-then they hand the interested bridge-crossers a piece of paper that says that they've reached the other side.

Thirty two entrepreneurs insist that certain parts of bridge building and crossing are immoral, or go against the teachings of Poseidon. They lead groups of swimmers across the river. Many of the swimmers are swept away to their doom. Many of the surviving swimmers become swim instructors.

Ten huddle up and build bridges for their immediate families. Four of these bridges collapse; three, as it turns out, use the term "bridge building" to refer to swimming. Two build bridges that lead back to the same side of the river. Either way, they blow up the bridges as soon as they're done with them.

Two groups of bridge engineers build world class bridges, but charge $30,000 per crossing. (One bridge leads to Harvard and the other to Yale). City government observes that these bridges seem to work pretty well, but isn't SURE whether they should have six lanes for traffic instead of four. Also, is there a better steel alloy that could be used? Also, those bridges look pretty expensive, don't they? So the other 98 bridge-builders stay in business.

Then, some guy on the internet thinks that because we haven't figured out how to keep teachers from teaching to tests and stuff, we should keep letting local school boards teach children that men and dinosaurs lived at the same time-4,000 years ago, right after God created the Earth.
posted by Kwine at 1:11 PM on February 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


ARE YOU CRAZY?

Yes 58%
No 32%
Maybe 7%
Murrica! 3%

I think Kos is biased -- along the same lines that I am -- and I think it is fine that he's forcing these actual lunatic conservative viewpoints out into the open (discountfortunecookie, yikes . . . although thanks for the reality checks, guys).

We might have to fight fire with fire to light a fire under our progressive asses in this environment. Slightly slanted poll? Nothing compared to the lies and propaganda the Republicans are wont to use these days. Let's get out there and expose things for what they are right now.
posted by theredpen at 1:11 PM on February 4, 2010


No one, previous to Obama, ran against John McCain and Sarah Palin, after eight years of George W. Bush.
I also think that Dubya was the greatest U.S. presidential disaster in the history of ever, and I agree that Sarah Palin is basically a narcissistic proto-fascist with great hair, but this is an overly simplistic formula by which to try to measure the infinitely more complex socio-political, economic, and cultural phenomena we find ourselves in the midst of.
I'm not really sure exactly what you're arguing.

My "No one, previous to Obama" post was in response to you taking to task someone who said that the fact that Obama didn't get 70% of the vote should be worrisome. You took them to task for this because no one's ever gotten 61%, or whatever it was.

I'm not saying that 70% is a reasonable expectation, and I don't think the person that you were responding to did, either. But I agree with that person that his point, which was essentially that it is worrisome that, basically, half of all American voters voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin, especially in the wake of seeing what eight years of George W. Bush did. I don't really see much room for reasonable disagreement on this point, frankly.

In a reasonable, informed society, McCain and Palin should have been epically trounced.
posted by Flunkie at 1:18 PM on February 4, 2010


Every poll is unscientific? Every poll is flawed? That is apologist bullshit.

Give us hell, Quimby!

I suppose I should elaborate on my statement. I think polls are great at some things, and very useful, but when it comes to figuring out peoples' opinions on complicated issues, narrowing it down to two choices, three choices, scales of one to ten, whatever— never really describes the whole situation.
posted by Red Loop at 1:25 PM on February 4, 2010


weston They don't care about life qua life, we know that. They don't give a damn about babies after they are born, we need only to look at their virulent hatred of all forms of child welfare to establish that. They like fetuses, but the instant they're born they become welfare queens and the subject of scorn and hate.

I still don't see how it's all that contradictory. I believe killing people is wrong. That doesn't mean I can't hold negative feelings and opinions of certain folk while still believing they deserve protection from murder.

Where the whole pro-life thing breaks down in my mind is how they frequently offer legal exceptions for cases like rape. I find it very hard to believe that I would be in favour of such an exception if I were pro-life. Then again, they might be telling themselves (and each other) that this is a necessary concession for now, which will eventually be done away with.

The fact that they are against better and more available sex education is another puzzler. This would almost certainly result in fewer unplanned pregnancies and therefore fewer abortions. I imagine better (or any) sex-ed is probably dismissed for puritanical reasons using a thought process similar to "the ends don't justify the means." I can come up with several examples where doing things I consider immoral (sometimes incredibly so) would lead to an ultimately better result. So I guess this is only puzzling if you also view better sex-ed as good or neutral.

Not that my feelings are especially relevant as an anti-death penalty, pro-choice Canadian. I'll stop rambling now.
posted by ODiV at 1:27 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Pragmatica : Reject stupidity when you see it, I'll buy that, but to identify the stupidity and the person as the same thing is to make an enemy and a mistake at the same time.

I believe that this is a wonderful sentiment, and I mostly agree with it as it applies to different areas of life. But only "mostly", because when dealing with the particular branch of willfully pig-headed stupid that this poll is talking about, we are already their enemy. Coulter and her ilk called us "Traitors", for having the gall to disagree with them, and the fans gleefully accepted this pronouncement.

I firmly believe that an olive branch should be extended in an effort to bring people with divergent viewpoints together, but at some point you need to recognize someone who is absolutely unwilling to concede even the smallest of points in your and reality's favor and just cut your losses.
posted by quin at 1:32 PM on February 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


I'm not saying that 70% is a reasonable expectation, and I don't think the person that you were responding to did, either. But I agree with that person that his point, which was essentially that it is worrisome that, basically, half of all American voters voted for John McCain and Sarah Palin, especially in the wake of seeing what eight years of George W. Bush did. I don't really see much room for reasonable disagreement on this point, frankly.

Sheesh, I never said I didn't find it worrisome, but it's cool (if odd) to be painted (I think?) as an unreasonable quasi-apologist for the McCain/Palin ticket.
posted by scody at 1:39 PM on February 4, 2010


I firmly believe that an olive branch should be extended in an effort to bring people with divergent viewpoints together, but at some point you need to recognize someone who is absolutely unwilling to concede even the smallest of points in your and reality's favor and just cut your losses.

And I agree with you, as it happens. Short of a hit-rock-bottom epiphany (the likes of which, it could be argued, Limbaugh has already had and ignored), Coulter isn't going to change what she thinks or how she operates. Conversion is a lost cause.

Still, reject the stupidity, not Coulter. Not because you think you can change her or people like her, but because of the people who are watching that you don't know about that might be swayed by a reasoned argument versus a snarky one, or one that labels an entire group of people with the 'batshitinsane' tag.
posted by Pragmatica at 1:46 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe is correct - there is always potential issues like coverage error, which is when their is a non-random chance of being excluded from participating in the survey, so homeless folks (typically ignored) institutionalized folks, military, dorms, and other hard to reach populations are all problematic.

Folks only with cell phones are a hot topic because they are approximately 11% of the population, and there is good evidence that they are qualitatively different than the rest of the population. AAPOR has concluded that cell phone only folks are "are younger, less affluent, less likely to be married, more likely to rent their home, more urban, and more liberal on many political questions."

Non-response bias is a different problem and is the result of there being systemic differences between those who choose to respond to the poll and those who refuse (non responders). If I was going to guess about the direction of bias, unlike ROU_Xenophobe I would argue that the non-responders were more crazy than those who did respond. I would assume that individuals with unpopular and extreme views are generally less likely to be willing to report them to strangers on the phone, and the survey will underestimate the crazy out there.

As for the legality of polling cell phones- it is legal if you manually dial the number, and best practices recommend providing some sort of reimbursement for the costs to the respondent. It is unlikely Research 2000 was calling cell phones, which is because cell phones are usually utilizing different prefixes (the middle three numbers in N. America). Most phone surveys buy lists of known working prefixes, as the phone companies traditionally dispenses new phone numbers in groups in a prefix, not randomly. That is why they note that they randomized the last four numbers, not the entire number. More details about the cell phone debate over at AAPOR (American Association for Public Opinion Research).
posted by zenon at 1:49 PM on February 4, 2010


A pet peeve:
Would you favor or oppose giving illegal immigrants now living in the United States the right to live here legally if they pay a fine and learn English?

I wouldn't know how to answer that question. What if I think they just need to pay a fine, or just learn English? What if I think they should be granted citizenship whitout either of these things? Do I choose 'yes' or 'no'?

If you're going to create a poll, hire someone capable.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:53 PM on February 4, 2010


Red Loop: "I suppose I should elaborate on my statement. I think polls are great at some things, and very useful, but when it comes to figuring out peoples' opinions on complicated issues, narrowing it down to two choices, three choices, scales of one to ten, whatever— never really describes the whole situation."

Fine; my point is that deflecting criticism of one poll by saying that polls are useless/flawed is a huge mistake.

I don't get the Quimby reference, maybe I'd need a TV?
posted by kathrineg at 2:09 PM on February 4, 2010


The immigration question is a litmus test - the english profiency and path to citizenship/legal residency were two contested freatures of the McCain-Kennedy bill. The same McCain that was the Republican nominee for pres, and the same guy many Republicans rejected as not sufficiently conservative, for things like letting all the immigrants in the country.


coolguymichael - You want to answer a totally different question. For example here is the immigration question I drafted for a phone survey of Chicago residents (in 2007, or 1 year after the reforms failed to pass).

QK1 Which comes closest to your view about what government policy
should be toward illegal immigrants currently residing in the
United States. Should the government: (1) deport all illegal
immigrants back to their home country; (2) allow illegal
immigrants to remain in the United States in order to work, but
only for a limited amount of time; (3) or allow illegal
immigrants to remain in the United States and become U.S.,
citizens, but only if they meet certain requirements over a
period of time?

1 DEPORT ALL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS
2 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS STAY WITH TIME LIMITS
3 ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS BECOME CITIZENS WITH REQUIREMENTS

(not volunteered by interviewer:)
8 DON'T KNOW
9 REFUSED

My question isn't a litmus test, but again, it is not better than the one they used- just different. Their question regards a recent signature issue for the Republicans, using a particular framework (McCain's). I think my question is pretty good, but I could go on about the particular failings of my question for paragraphs, because it too is reductive and makes assumptions. And look at how complicated it is. It's compromised but it was still useful for my research. Politics is reductive. Polling is reductive. The point is to summarize an opinion about something, in this case, a particular bit of proposed immigration reform.
posted by zenon at 2:33 PM on February 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sheesh, I never said I didn't find it worrisome, but it's cool (if odd) to be painted (I think?) as an unreasonable quasi-apologist for the McCain/Palin ticket.
I didn't intentionally paint you as such, and I apologize for having seemed to do so.

If you basically agree with the person that it is worrisome that the state of our society is such that McCain and Palin didn't get epically trounced (and I do believe that you do basically agree with this), then your "Oh, please" response to it strikes me as mere quibbling. This is what I was trying to point out; I was not trying to say that you are an apologist for McCain and Palin.
posted by Flunkie at 3:20 PM on February 4, 2010


Bill O'Reilly To Jon Stewart: 'A Lot Of People Don't Think You're Smart'
posted by homunculus at 3:30 PM on February 4, 2010


To paraphrase Jeb Bush, you don't understand. Reality is a perception that politicians create.

For many major political issues, public opinion is often more about what people are led to believe by the constant repetition of poll-crafted talking points than a true reflection of the voter's understanding of the facts.

First, these kinds of questions (leading, binary questions with extreme choices, etc.) are common enough in polling. And just because the Daily Kos may have been deliberately crafted a poll to embarrass Republicans, or may have ridiculed some of the answered, doesn't really diminish the insanity of some of the responses to very direct, simple questions. Only 21% of Republicans are comfortable saying Obama is not a Socialist? Only 32% are comfortable saying he should not be impeached? You can analyze and deconstruct the rest of this poll until the cows come home and you can attack the motives of the pollsters, but the inescapable conclusion from just a few simple and direct questions is that a large percentage of Republicans hold some pretty crazy beliefs.

Second, as to whether Republicans are, deep down inside, truly as crazy as the poll suggests misses the point that you can get extreme/crazy answers and opinions from Republicans with the right/wrong/poorly worded questions.

So? What's the difference?

It's the difference between "estate taxes" and the "death tax"; between optional medical "advance directives" (do not resuscitate orders) and "death panels"; it's the difference between a "public option" and "socialized medicine". It's the difference that makes Bush's top marginal tax rate of 35% the paragon of capitalism, and Obama's top marginal tax rate of 39.6% the second coming of Soviet Bolshevism.

Finding the right words or questions to get people to stigmatize an issue, bill, or candidate is the bread and butter of politics right now. It's how people like Republican pollster Frank Luntz find ways to trick people to vote against their interests year in, year out. It's the reason Fox News exists.

Take the current health care reform proposals. A majority of Americans now oppose the bill precisely because they've been confused by the overwhelming wave of lies and propaganda being said about it. How do we know that's why people oppose it? Because Kaiser did a more in depth poll that showed that more information about health care leads to more support.

Unfortunately, the average voter usually doesn't have the benefit of an impartial third party sitting down with them to give them dispassionate facts about an issue like health care before they disrupt town hall events, flood their congressman's office with calls and emails, take a poll, or vote.

So just because some of us really want to believe that the Republicans who are comfortable calling Obama a Socialist would really take a more sane position if you just had a nice, unemotional sit down with them (it may even be true) is kind'uv besides the point.

Also, I see this poll as an opportunity for liberals to push back on some of the extreme political propaganda that the GOP is responsible for. Stigmatizing Republicans as crazy extremists could help dampen some of the more extreme rhetoric, or peel off some middle of the road moderates.
posted by Davenhill at 3:37 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


weston They don't care about life qua life, we know that.

Even if you were 100% correct about the correlation between pro-life viewpoints and opposition to child welfare--and you aren't---you'd be incorrect about the proposition that an anti-state-welfare philosophy necessarily implies a disregard for life.

But really, it's pretty tangential to my main point above, which was obscured by the toss-off delivery, so I'll articulate a bit better. What's more likely? That:

(a) there exist people who highly value human life but nevertheless find it acceptable for the state to take it in certain cases (such as the outcome of a judicial process which is a response to a particularly horrific crime, or defense of ones own life) but not others (an unborn child)
(b) there is a widespread cult of crazed fetus-worship

Personally, I think you have to be a bit crazy to pick "B" as your ready answer, but maybe there's extenuating circumstances.
posted by weston at 3:39 PM on February 4, 2010


There is a case to be made that the interests of evangelical voters are more closely aligned with the progressive agenda than with the GOP, especially on issues of poverty, environmentalism, and social justice.

The Civil Rights Movement is the obvious example.

Unfortunately, the time to make that case was two generations ago, and because progressives and liberals would rather point and laugh at the fundies instead of seeking common ground and engaging in the kind of church-based base-building that the GOP does so well, we lost that fight without ever knowing we were in it in the first place.

Unfortunately, the Christian right and Moral "Majority" wanted your assimilation, not common ground.

Republicans are rooting for the Colts, while Democrats and Independents favor the Saints.

Clearly I'm more of a Vikings fan than I am a Democrat. Geaux Colts!
posted by kirkaracha at 4:04 PM on February 4, 2010


Where the whole pro-life thing breaks down in my mind is how they frequently offer legal exceptions for cases like rape...The fact that they are against better and more available sex education is another puzzler.

Do they really believe that abortion is murder?
...the leaders of the abortion criminalization movement have consistently put their political weight behind policies which make little or no sense if they genuinely think that abortion is identical to child murder. And those same leaders routinely endorse policies that make a lot of sense if their goal is to penalize women who have sex - to, as I’ve heard many of them put it, make sure women “face the consequences” of having sex.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:08 PM on February 4, 2010


Once again, the play-one-on-metafilter statisticians and polling methodogists come out of the woodwork to throw monkey-poo without telling us what their objections really are and how they are based in polling-theory. Neither Nate Silver or ISS had any problems with the basic methodology, except for possible over-sampling of southern Republicans (where more of them live). The comments on fivethirtyeight are much more intelligent and useful than Metafilter on this subject. For instance:
ts true that Repubs are more an ideology, the Dems are more an interest group. Thats why you see more conformity in belief from Repubs.

Liberals are a smaller base than conservatives so many Dems are Dems just for their own self interest....not a inner belief system.
I've seen this reaction before when social science reseach comes up, which is odd, because Mefi is usually all scientific and rational-like. Can any of you objectors be more specific about why you rejected this information practically out-of-hand? Why don't you want to believe that identified Republicans are really this ideological? And where have you been for the past year?
posted by psyche7 at 4:57 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why don't you want to believe that identified Republicans are really this ideological?

I have neither rejected the information, nor do I deny that said Republicans are this ideological. My objection to this poll was not based on what it determined, but rather on how it was constructed in the first place. I have no doubts that the results of the poll do reflect the beliefs of the 20-odd percent of the populace who identify as "Republican" when asked. But it wasn't a poll designed to elicit any real clear worldview. It was designed, from moment one, to confirm the biases of Kos as put into the book he is writing, and as such stands as a monument to the liberal desire to stand and point and laugh at all the poor, misguided, uneducated people who oppose them at the polls.

Painting one's opponents as fools only serves to help with underestimating them in a fight, and to anger them into more dogged pursuit of their stated goals, no matter how poorly informed those goals may be at their base.
posted by hippybear at 5:10 PM on February 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


hippybear: "Why don't you want to believe that identified Republicans are really this ideological?
But it wasn't a poll designed to elicit any real clear worldview. It was designed, from moment one, to confirm the biases of Kos as put into the book he is writing, and as such stands as a monument to the liberal desire to stand and point and laugh at all the poor, misguided, uneducated people who oppose them at the polls.
So you doubt the reputability of Research2000 and don't value informed opinion like Nate Silver's or the ISS? And you don't like Kos, because its all out of a "liberal desire to stand and point and laugh" at all the ideological Republicans?

The world-view elicited by the poll couldn't be clearer. Along these lines, Why do people vote against their own interests? where we find that conservatives prefer Stories not facts. I think you have a story about Kos, which is getting in the way of the facts.
posted by psyche7 at 6:06 PM on February 4, 2010


Why do people vote against their own interests?

Because people are programmable. Anyone can turn a slight doubt or insecurity into a full blown phobia with the right amount of media exposure. That's why a candidate will often win by spending more, despite having the charm of a cockroach.
posted by Brian B. at 6:19 PM on February 4, 2010


> Everything but the Religious aspect of Republicanism is spreading north like a poorly controlled plague

Stockwell is still a cabinet minister.
posted by Decimask at 6:21 PM on February 4, 2010


Sorry, for the benefit of non-Canadian: Stockwell Day.
posted by Decimask at 6:25 PM on February 4, 2010


And, upon reading the wikipedia page, it looks like Stockwell was ... relocated from Cabinet 2 weeks ago
posted by Decimask at 6:26 PM on February 4, 2010


It was designed, from moment one, to confirm the biases of Kos
Can you please explain how it was designed to confirm his biases?

I mean, as opposed to the mere fact that it did confirm his biases, and was designed to confirm or refute them?

So, for example, what would you have done differently, to confirm or refute (as opposed to "to confirm") the opinion that an absurd number of Republicans think that Obama is a socialist?
posted by Flunkie at 6:53 PM on February 4, 2010


Flunkie: You could start by coming up with some mutually agreeable definition of what a "socialist" is. That word means very different things to different people. We've gone around on it often enough here on MetaFilter, which is not exactly a bastion of conservatism.

Without doing that first, you are mixing in the people who think that Obama is actually a Socialist, with people who use the term as a pejorative form of "liberal" or "Democrat." Linguistic prescriptivists may not like the latter use much, but it is the dominant meaning of the word in many social groups.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:03 PM on February 4, 2010


First of all, I don't think that's a fair rebuttal in this particular case. It would be if Kos's bias was merely "Republicans think that Obama is what I think of as a socialist", but that's not his (or pretty much anybody's) bias about this particular meme. Kos's bias on this issue includes the idea that many of those who think he's a socialist don't actually know what "socialist" means. Your claim that many of them think it means "liberal" backs this; it doesn't rebut it.

But in any case, that was simply one example. Let's take another: How would you confirm or refute the opinion that an absurd number of Republicans believe that ACORN stole the 2008 election?

In some way that's better than "Do you believe that ACORN stole the 2008 election". Because that would, I gather, apparently be designed to confirm (not "to confirm or refute") the idea that lots of Republicans think ACORN stole the 2008 election.
posted by Flunkie at 7:19 PM on February 4, 2010


So, for example, what would you have done differently, to confirm or refute (as opposed to "to confirm") the opinion that an absurd number of Republicans think that Obama is a socialist?

Well, I'm not a professional pollster or poll designer or cognitive assessment designer, or whatever the people who work hard to make impartial polls are correctly called... however...

It does seem to me that taking what appears to be a long list of right wing propaganda talking points and phrasing them in a question form which allows for mostly "agree" and "disagree" (or "yes" and "no") as answers and then calling up a bunch of people who self-identify with the group who consume that propaganda every day will likely produce exactly the results you want in order to confirm the book that you wrote that you suddenly have realized may require some backup for your claims.

Examples of how I might have changed some of the questions in order to be less loaded?

Instead of "Do you believe Barack Obama should be impeached?" or "Do you believe B.O. was born in the United States?", why not ask "Do you believe there are legal issues which bring Obama's presidency into question, and if so, what are they?" And then not volunteering what any of the potential answers might be, but see what the person answering may call up within himself.

Instead of "Do you believe B. O. is a socialist?" why not ask "How would you characterize B. O. basic sociopolitical approach?"

Instead of "Do you believe ACORN stole the 2008 election?", why not ask "Do you believe there was possible interference with the outcome of the 2008 election, and if so, by whom?"

And etc, all down the list of questions.

See.... my problem with the poll is that it feeds ideas into people's minds. And these ideas are the EXACT SAME WORDS AND PHRASING which is being used by FOXNews and others working as part of that propaganda machine. It's not an unknown psychological function that people who hear something over and over will then trigger on that phrase later and feel that it is more familiar and less threatening than other phrases. But that doesn't mean that they will be able to call those concepts to the fore on their own.

An example, which is doubtlessly used by countless advertising companies all the time, is that if you repeat the name of, say, BURGER X over and over to someone, and then when that person goes to the burger outlet where it is served and you say "would you like to have a BURGER X?", they are statistically more likely to choose that burger. But if you were to take them to a parallel restaurant where they serve a similar burger without that same name, the chances of them pulling together the information of "BURGER X has pickles, onions, cheese and bacon, and that sounds good, so I guess I want a Y BURGER" is much less.

You can do this experiment with someone yourself sometime. Start at about 10:30 with one of the coworkers you go eat with, mention several times between that time and lunch that you hope you get some onion rings (or whatever) with lunch. Then take them to a restaurant where they serve onion rings, and right before he orders, say "hey, do you want to split some onion rings?" Chances are, they'll do it.

This poll didn't actually test what people believe. It tested for concepts they've been force-fed (well, willingly force-fed) and provided trigger phrases for them to respond to in place of actual thought. If the questions had been phrased openly with a set of possible terms or phrases for the polltaker to listen to during the response and without pushing any of those terms at those being questioned, I don't doubt that this particular group of people would have yielded higher numbers of use of propaganda phrases and such, but I don't think it would have been nearly the same as feeding them those exact phrases and then watching them salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs.
posted by hippybear at 9:07 PM on February 4, 2010


Instead of "Do you believe Barack Obama should be impeached?" or "Do you believe B.O. was born in the United States?", why not ask "Do you believe there are legal issues which bring Obama's presidency into question, and if so, what are they?"

Because you don't want to know whether someone believes there are legal issues about Obama's presidency, you want to know whether they acknowledge that Obama was born in the US.

In general, open-ended questions are a nightmare. They require massive amounts of ex post coding, with inevitable coding errors and problems of intercoder reliability. The National Election Study has a fair number of open-ended questions, but it's massively, hugely, over the top expensive (IIRC, a few million a pop), and in many ways is a rather archaic survey -- to preserve continuity, large amounts of the survey instrument are the same as they were in the 1950s.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:06 PM on February 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry if it hurts your big city liberal feelings to accept that yes, they really do think what Limbaugh says, but that's what we like to call reality. Maybe this is a shock to most of you, because you've never had to talk to an actual conservative before, I don't know. But this is not shocking to anyone who has spoken to actual conservatives.

Wow, my neighbors -- who are amongst the 2800 who live in my town -- will be tickled pink to hear that they're living in a BIG CITY. And that even though most of 'em were sporting McCain / Palin signs in their yards, and I'm on friendly terms with them, I've never met an *ACTUAL CONSERVATIVE*.




What was that someone said about assholes who generally agree with you....?
posted by the bricabrac man at 12:50 PM on February 5, 2010


bricabrac, your comment is completely incoherent as a response to the passage you quoted. Would you care to rephrase that?
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:27 PM on February 5, 2010


the bricabrac man ???

I'm afraid the force of your scarcasm obscured your actual point. Could you clarify please?

I said that, for liberals who live in big cities and mostly don't know any actual conservatives, these finding might seem impossible, odd, loaded, etc. While to people who live outside big cities the findings of this poll are completely non-controversial because those of us outside big cities know and interact with conservatives, and therefore know that this poll does genuinely reflect what they think.

What were you saying?
posted by sotonohito at 9:28 AM on February 6, 2010


I think bricabac may have been saying that this poll does not genuinely reflect the thoughts of the "actual conservatives" that he does know and interact with. That's true of most of the actual conservatives that I know as well.

I do currently live in a Big City - but Dallas is only slightly more liberal than (most of) the rest of Texas, which puts it pretty low on the liberal spectrum. And my former home was a Small City which was only slightly more liberal than the rest of Oklahoma. I can assure you there are plenty of real live conservatives around in both places.

posted by Dojie at 10:07 AM on February 6, 2010


There are big city conservatives. New York City (the ultimate bastion of the LIBERAL ELIIIIIITE!*) is home to the Daily News. Read the featured columnists.


*Or Hollywood
posted by kathrineg at 10:22 AM on February 6, 2010


For completeness and for all those who were wondering: Daily Kos: How a poll is conducted.
posted by psyche7 at 4:28 PM on February 6, 2010


Dojie wrote: "I do currently live in a Big City - but Dallas is only slightly more liberal than (most of) the rest of Texas, which puts it pretty low on the liberal spectrum. And my former home was a Small City which was only slightly more liberal than the rest of Oklahoma. I can assure you there are plenty of real live conservatives around in both places."

Most Texas and Oklahoma conservatives don't self identify as Republicans, though. They're much more likely to identify as Democrat or Independent. Oklahoma, last I saw, still has far more registered Democrats than registered Republicans.
posted by wierdo at 5:41 PM on February 6, 2010


Well, Lincoln was a Republican, after all.
posted by Pope Guilty at 5:53 PM on February 6, 2010


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