Poll results are starting to come in.
September 13, 2001 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Poll results are starting to come in. Bush haters will not be pleased with the results. Neither will ultrapacifists.
posted by aaron (46 comments total)
I don't think you have to be an "ultrapacifist" to think that bombing the hell out of Afghanistan is a bad idea.

608 people, and they claim accuracy within 4%? Is this normal? Can this possibly be true?

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:43 AM on September 13, 2001

bush will have plenty of time to fall on his face
posted by moz at 11:44 AM on September 13, 2001

51 percent “strongly” favored “immediate” air strikes against the strongholds of terrorists “who are believed to be the most likely responsible.

I'm neither a Bush-hater nor an ultra-pacifist and I'm not pleased with that result.

Mars: yes, 600ish is your typical +/1 4% sample size.
posted by marknau at 11:47 AM on September 13, 2001

Of course people are approving of Bush's handling of the situation. Hell, even here at MeFi, the most vehement opposition to Bush is saying that, despite political affiliations, we need to rally behind the president now.

Not really that surprising.
posted by billybunny at 11:47 AM on September 13, 2001

What else is new. What would be really suprising is if us peaceniks were actually a majority for once.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:51 AM on September 13, 2001

I've never supported Bush, but I'm supporting him now.

As long as he does something violent and decisive. I'll forgive him if he makes mistakes. But I demand that he take strong action.

I was wondering how I was going to react to "Dubya" declaring war on some self-described "freedom fighters" living in tents in the Middle East. This is a war we can't win and is, in my opinion, like banging on a hornet's nest with a small stick.

I'm surprised to find that I'll be supporting president Bush as he commits our military to a largely covert war far from home. I'll support him if he orders the CIA to flood the area with spies and bribe money. I'll even support him if he gives the FBI a free pass to hold and question people.

Presidents have been afraid to do this in the past. The nation wouldn't have supported it. Now we will. Bin Laden's error was not realizing that Americans would demand Bush take action.

We need to track down anyone who would do something like this, not just those responsible for what happened Tuesday. Track them all down. I don't care if Bin Laden was behind it or not. Find him and let him rot in jail. Find anyone who follows him and let them rot in jail.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:52 AM on September 13, 2001

That must be one worn-out string you've been harping on, aaron.
posted by holgate at 11:53 AM on September 13, 2001

As aaron knows, I'm a "Bush-hater" but I see clearly enough to realize this transcends party, etc.
posted by owillis at 11:55 AM on September 13, 2001

Surveying 600 people to try to figure out what 250,000,000 people think is:

1) bunkum
2) clearly trying to influence the other 249,999,400 to think as they do

Even if it is statistically supported. Make your own decisions and seek your own counsel.
posted by jessamyn at 11:57 AM on September 13, 2001

Taking into consideration that emotions are still running high, and people are thinking with their hearts rather than their heads, it's innappropriate to conduct a poll and call it scientific, and irresponsible not to note that the accuracy is actually more like +/- 100%
posted by Hildago at 11:58 AM on September 13, 2001

Unlike most of America, one or two mefi folks seem intent on
using this tragedy as a way of pushing a particular political agenda. That's the level they live on.

Of course, the truth is that if even if Clinton were still president
at this moment, we'd expect his support even among the
John Birch Society to be approximately what Bush will enjoy.
(Although there would undoubtedly be some nuts who would insist that Clinton had arranged to bomb the World Trade Towers to boost his approval ratings).
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 11:59 AM on September 13, 2001

57 percent strongly favored military action against any nation that allows the terrorists who are responsible for this attack to live and work in their country, even if that country was not involved in the attacks.

Including the United States, presumably. That's where they were living and working up until Tuesday morning.
posted by Grangousier at 11:59 AM on September 13, 2001

it's natural to be angry at a time like this. many, many people will become more rational as time passes and realize the futility of rash action. I pray that the men leading us have cooler heads.
posted by rebeccablood at 12:02 PM on September 13, 2001

Jess, it is not bunkum to try to figure out the opinions of many people by sampling a few. It is surprisingly accurate, so long as you understand the limitations of what you're doing. One of the limitations is that people's opinions change with the winds.

Your point that people should not form opinions based on polls is a good one. The entire study of propaganda exists because people are not always rational in forming their opinions. It's a great idea to know the methods of propaganda so you recognize it when you see it.

It's not clear to me that these polls are intended to propagandize. I think people just like polls.
posted by marknau at 12:03 PM on September 13, 2001

Aaron, can't you give it a break? The mass of opinion here is that, regardless of political ideology, the President deserves support. Your ideological harping during this crisis disgusts me every inch as the virulent leftists' zealotry.
posted by estopped at 12:06 PM on September 13, 2001

Er, make that every inch as much . . .

Emotions overtake grammar.
posted by estopped at 12:07 PM on September 13, 2001

My opinion of Bush hasn't changed (not likely that it will) but I'm not surprised that the nation is rallying in support. Quite honestly, I don't think he's really done anything yet except "gravely assess the damages" and call for active and swift retribution. What I support is what my Govt. is doing and standing for right now. That isn't one man, but rather many people who's opinions are as varied and volitile as those within this group. But they have the power to act (in ways that we don't). That calls for support from all of us, no matter who the figurehead at the top is. This is a time to act as a nation, nothing more or less. If that means I have to support Bush, then so be it.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:09 PM on September 13, 2001

Including the United States, presumably.

I wouldn't exactly say the U.S. was allowing them to stay and work here. Unwittingly, yes, but only because the FBI failed to catch them before it happened, not because they didn't try.

Just think of all the explosives that have been confiscated over the past few years. We've foiled a number of serious attempts.
posted by mattpfeff at 12:14 PM on September 13, 2001

I once read a survey that found that 53% of polls are wrong 72% of the time +/- 74%. Just because its found in a poll doesn't make it right. Just like not everything with the word news in it is accurate (try FoxNEWS).
posted by wsfinkel at 12:14 PM on September 13, 2001

A poll about what should be done when so little information is actually available seems to me to be one of the worst possible ways to pick a course of action.

Bush has said repeatedly both before and after the election that he won't rely on polls, but rather will act from a thoughtful conviction of what is right. Bush, if anyone, should be in possession of all that's currently known about the situation. Call me an optimist, but I hope that his reasoned response won't mirror his rhetoric so far.
posted by ToasterKing at 12:16 PM on September 13, 2001

I'm a "Bush Hater", and a pacifist. I don't speak Dittohead, so I don't know what an "ultrapacifist" is. However, this is unquestionably an act of war. The president's response has been surprisingly measured, and is, unlike a lot of the current fiascos, happening in consultation with the rest of the world. I agree with everything Bush has done so far, wrt the Trade Center attack.
posted by swell at 12:18 PM on September 13, 2001

What do you expect people to do at a time like this? Tell pollsters they don't support the president? Give it a rest, already. And, no, 600 or so people is not nearly enough for a decent national poll. That's an "instant" poll. At least 1,200 to 1,500 or so would've been needed for a real poll, especially on such a serious matter.
posted by raysmj at 12:30 PM on September 13, 2001

I think polling this early in the game, while less than accurate in describing people's long-term opinions, is an indicator of the current emotional climate of the nation. People are angry, and want to see a response. This is not surprising.

The statistic that shocked me, that is being quoted on ABC (I was looking for the link on abcnews.com but have come up empty handed) is that the majority of Americans are willing to give up personal freedoms and liberties in order to give themselves more security. This, to me, is a scary thought...
posted by chlumani at 12:44 PM on September 13, 2001

An obvious point to consider: The former President Bush's poll numbers were extremely high during Desert Storm in 1991. What happened to him just one year later? He lost his bid for re-election!

This is the time to rally around the president, yes, but we also must never forget who he is, how he got there, and the damage he's already done in office.

Never forget!
posted by Ben Grimm at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2001

The mass of opinion here is that, regardless of political ideology, the President deserves support.

I love the dittohead impulse to scold us for not being bipartisan enough while throwing Bush's poll numbers in our face.
posted by rcade at 12:46 PM on September 13, 2001

57 percent strongly favored military action against any nation that allows the terrorists who are responsible for this attack to live and work in their country, even if that country was not involved in the attacks.

Including the United States, presumably. That's where they were living and working up until Tuesday morning.

Grangousier - I'm sorry to single you out but I am getting real tired of that kind of sophistry (it's come from many, not just you). We should trust that the American people know the difference between having assholes live here until thier appointment with death, and offering aid to the enemy. Statements such as those above imply American culpability in the terrorists acts. I'd like to think that you're just counting semantic coup. If you, or anyone else, wish to point out that Americans aren't thinking "acurately" enough for your tastes then please do so, but not by implying that we harbored and aided a group of suicidal maniacs.
posted by Wulfgar! at 12:49 PM on September 13, 2001

My Bush Haiku:

I'm not a Bush fan
He is not the smartest man
I couldn't do his job
posted by jonah at 12:53 PM on September 13, 2001

I think that Aaron has a good point. Those of us who traditionally don't share Bush's ideology may be waiting for him to fall. Certainly, right-wingers were wishing for the same during Clinton's presidency. While Bush has not been the most eloquent speaker during this crisis (if I hear another lame, jingoistic speech from him, I'll get sick), the fact that he has not released the missles shows some restraint and intelligence on the part of his administration.

As for the immediate poll numbers, what else would one expect so soon after the tragedy?
posted by Avogadro at 1:00 PM on September 13, 2001

aaron's disgusting partisan demagoguery wasn't necessary, and I wish people like owillis and swell wouldn't buy into it by using his label. As the numbers he himself cited indicate, there are very few people who "hate" Bush (recall that "hate" is a Republican term for "disagree with", used of non-Republicans) so much that they would not support him during a crisis like this. This belies the stereotype the phrase "Bush hater" is intended to promulgate.

Belies means demonstrates to be a lie.

We do not hate Bush. In a crisis, we support him as commander in chief. We pray, regardless of party, that he is up to the task. There will be difficult times ahead and this will be a test of the administration's professed preference for bipartisan unity.
posted by dhartung at 1:17 PM on September 13, 2001

bicker as we may
please let's stand together, for
we are all we have

pass a kleenex. kidding.
posted by adampsyche at 1:25 PM on September 13, 2001

i hate surveys. data from them is easily skewed.

recently, there was a report released on motorcycle accident statistics. results could be made to fit any agenda.

a survey like this is only good if the exact questions are released, along with demographic info on the participants, and additional comments. but then, the data isn't boiled down into convenient numbers.

besides that, i am for military action with extreme prejudice against guilty parties and those knowingly harboring said parties. on this point, i back the president and his advisors.

i also believe that theses attacks are more serious than pearl harbor, but are not a declaration of war, where pearl harbor was a declaration of war.
posted by mich9139 at 1:59 PM on September 13, 2001

And, no, 600 or so people is not nearly enough for a decent national poll. That's an "instant" poll. At least 1,200 to 1,500 or so would've been needed for a real poll

The accuracy of a poll is estimated by the inverse of the square-root of the number of people you poll. So, yes, 600 people is almost exactly 4% error. The size of the population is not relevant. You just need to make sure you get a representative sample. Why does this work?

What interpretation should be put on the poll results is an entirely separate matter, but I don't see the good in disputing the statistical accuracy. Statistics is a well-understood field.
posted by marknau at 2:12 PM on September 13, 2001

Wulfgar - In retrospect, yes it was a wind-up, an attempt to annoy people. I came home and read a lot of pompous, masturbatory rabble-rousing, more like the commentary on the WWF than anything related to a genuine tragedy, or the actual prospect of a real war. I'm relieved that all I posted was a bit of sophistry, because I was, and am, fucking furious to the point of tears about what I've been reading.

I do genuinely believe that some of the phrases used recently (and this question was designed to echo a similar phrase in Bush's speech) is a way of clearing the ground for some less than selective military action. That the mere presence of someone decided to be an associated terrorist will be enough to justify bombing raids and the loss of countless more human lives. I don't really think that those lives are of any less value because they happen to be a long way away.

If there was a point it was not that I thought that the United States were giving comfort to the enemy, but that people will become targets for doing nothing worse than being in the same vicinity as An Official Evil Terrorist.

I have been struck by memories of listening to the radio reports of the 1986 bombings of Libya, the sense that there was an impending end of the world coming up (which never came, of course). And an article a few years later by the veteran (and now late) writer E.P. Thompson, where he spoke of the notion of American Blood - that one drop of American Blood was worth ten drops of European Blood was worth a thousand or a million drops of African blood. I forget the exact ratios, but I'm sure you get the point. And there we were, sitting on Airstrip One, doing exactly what the Pentagon told us to do...

It's not an argument. I'm not trying to prove anything. It's a world of chaos and uncertainty. I mean, what do we actually know? A lot of people are dead (we still have no idea how many). This is because of a small, determined group of people. We assume that those people are from the Middle East. We think it's probably related to Osama Bin Laden. As of beginning to write this, I can't think of anything properly confirmed, except that a lot of people are dead. Everything else seems to be conjecture spun into Truth. But when I see all those John Wayne rants, people who can maintain Absolute Certainty by maintaining Absolute Ignorance which they interpret as some kind of Divine Inspiration, I get such an urge to slap them.

Of course, violence doesn't solve anything.

So I just resort to sniping facetiousness. Only two posts as far as I can remember. Not bad really. Considering the state of the inside of my brain when I read the overnight posts this morning and the daytime batch this evening.

I don't know. I mean, I know that I'm still horrified by the enormity of the actual event, the colossal sadness of it, but everything else is just becoming blurred.

How many tonnes of high explosive have we dropped on Iraq over the last few years? Hasn't this war been going on for a long time, one way or another? What other purpose would this attack have other than to escalate that war? If we do escalate that war aren't we giving them exactly what they want from us? If the Palestinians on the West Bank have been treated as badly as they have over the last few years by Israel, and a blow is struck against Israels's greatest ally - by association one of their greatest enemies - why shouldn't they be happy about it? Wouldn't we be glad about a grievous blow struck against one of our enemies? Given who they are and where they are it seems like a totally understandable response, though not one I agree with.

Why is it so difficult to say "I don't know"?

I don't know who perpetrated this crime. I don't know what could constructively be done in response that will not result in destruction that will dwarf the original crime.

I know that I'm feeling the same end-of-the-world uncertainty that I remember from fifteen years ago. I know that we are now looking at a full-blown recession.

I don't think bombing anyone will make it go away.

I can't stop reading these posts, but the more I read, the greater the despair I feel. I realise that I'm not making sense, but nothing else seems to.
posted by Grangousier at 2:22 PM on September 13, 2001

Air strikes against nations that harbour terrorists? Where were all these people when American citizens were funding the IRA to bomb the UK in the 80's? Should the English have bombed the shit out of Boston?

I live somewhere that's literally insular, but you guys take the cake.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:32 PM on September 13, 2001

"but you guys take the cake."

I don't remeber the US government supporting the IRA. Maybe you could supply us with your documentation for that?
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:34 PM on September 13, 2001

This is no time to gloat politically. Aaron, you can join in the discussion anytime.

You're like this fella at work I talked to forty five minutes after the tragedy began. He asked me, "So why don't you like Bush?" It wasn't, and still isn't the time and the place. It really pissed me off that someone in a time like this could be so monodimensional.

Furthermore, you better thank your republican ass that there will be "ultrapacifists" out there to help temper the agendas of the "ultra-war-monger". It may ultimately be what saves our lives.
posted by crasspastor at 3:57 PM on September 13, 2001

"Furthermore, you better thank your republican ass"

Uhh. That doesn't quite make sense. Perhaps, "Your republican ass better thank the fact that there are ultrapacifists out there. . ."
posted by crasspastor at 4:00 PM on September 13, 2001

As long as the partisan Bush attacks continue in other threads, I will work to counteract it. There is plenty of room to legitimately criticize the choices made by the government during this time. I see a lot of that, but I also see plenty of cheap liberal shots. The fact that none of the liberals sniping in this thread are willing to admit that, shows me I must be on the right track.
posted by aaron at 4:13 PM on September 13, 2001

"On one hand, I was sad. I was also very angry." Now I don't know what really happened to the other hand. But I am scared shitless about Bush, even though I find myself trying desperately to find faith in the man as a leader -- with little success. This isn't about where I stand politically. It's far from partisan nonsense, which is largely gratuitous at this point. It is about the man's success as a leader, which has been piss-poor at best in comforting the American people.

Besides, folks in the States whom I've managed to intermittently keep in touch with have been far more successful in collectively hanging tough and keeping calm about everything than anything Bush has ever said.
posted by ed at 4:33 PM on September 13, 2001

Sure, 3y6.



While the IRA were still running a terror campaign in the UK, Gerry Adams was granted visas to enter the US, over the objections of the UK government. http://www.collegian.psu.edu/archive/1995/03/03-17-95tdc/03-17-95dnews-6.asp

Also, although the US government has recently got a clue in this area, significant numbers of citizens haven't:

http://www.coxnews.com/washingtonbureau/staff/roughton/01-14-01IRELANDBOMBER0114COX.html (towards the end, "Authorities in Ireland and Britain have asked the United States to designate the Real IRA a "foreign terrorist organization" in hopes of choking off Irish-American financial support for the group.")

So my question stands: are the English justified in bombing Boston? If not, why not?
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 4:41 PM on September 13, 2001

marknau: You're dead wrong. It's an "instant poll" of the sort taken countless times during the last election. They fluctuated wildly, if you'll recall. Why? They were samples of 400 to 600 or so people. As you went to between 1,000 and 1,500, you saw considerably more accuracy. Anything under 1,000, I've been taught (formally, thanks), in a national poll (with cluster samples, presumably, weight given to different racial and income groups, and location, etc.) on anything is certainly pushing it. Even Gallup's recent approval polls re Bush have had between 1,000 and 1,100 people or so polled.
posted by raysmj at 5:17 PM on September 13, 2001

raysmj: This is right down a field of expertise. If you want to discuss it further, please email me. I'm curious as to what you think I'm "dead wrong" about.

+/- 4% with a 95% confidence interval can fluctuate quite a bit. Plus, people's opinions change. There is no "dramatic difference" when you go from 600 to 1000.

1000 people only gets you down to 3.1%. There's no magical mathematical change between "instant poll" 600 and "solid poll" 1000. It's a continuum. 1-over-root-N.

Here's Gallup's FAQ:

Surprisingly, however, once the survey sample gets to a size of 500, 600, 700 or more, there are fewer and fewer accuracy gains which come from increasing the sample size. Gallup and other major organizations use sample sizes of between 1,000 and 1,500 because they provide a solid balance of accuracy against the increased economic cost of larger and larger samples.
posted by marknau at 5:53 PM on September 13, 2001

marknau: You answered your own question. If 608 were thoroughly reliable, Gallup and others would use that sample all the time, consistently, eternally, always. They don't, except during election years when, say, Gallup is working for others who just want anything. (And even then they put together multi-day averages.) Why? Because it's cheap, it sucks, it's unprofessional, it's for polls with a different purpose than an acceptable level of accuracy. Instead, they use the sample size I suggested as being the best, at minimum, which I knew already.
posted by raysmj at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2001

The fact that none of the liberals sniping in this thread are willing to admit that, shows me I must be on the right track.

I won't even begin to compare such self-justifying constructions, since I used up all my spleen on the Ann Coulter thread.
posted by holgate at 7:22 PM on September 13, 2001

As long as the partisan Bush attacks continue in other threads, I will work to counteract it. There is plenty of room to legitimately criticize the choices made by the government during this time. I see a lot of that, but I also see plenty of cheap liberal shots. The fact that none of the liberals sniping in this thread are willing to admit that, shows me I must be on the right track.

Do you honestly think that it helps when you use this tragedy to get partisan advantage? At a time when most Americans who opposed President Bush are supportive of him, you're acting like a party hack, as if the only significance of the World Trade Center is that it provides a window of opportunity for Republicans to get another tax cut or fund missile defense.

If you really want to counteract something, set aside this dittohead crap and recognize what a lot of "Bush haters" have since Tuesday morning -- when the U.S. is faced with a threat of this magnitude, partisan differences pale in significance to what we have in common.
posted by rcade at 7:52 PM on September 13, 2001

um. What is Bush doing that I'm supposed to support?

I don't hate him, I just think he's incompetent and dangerously ignorant. I haven't seen him doing anything during this crisis that changes that opinion. I haven't, in fact, seen him do much at all.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:23 PM on September 13, 2001

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