Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Lookin' Good!

Reading Big Lizards (a highly recommended activity) this morning, I discovered a new poll on Schwartzenegger's five initiatives that has much more encouraging results than anything I've seen heretofore. Dafydd (how the heck do you pronounce that, anyway?) tells the tale of a new SurveyUSA poll that shows all five propositions in the "win" column, several of them so far in the win that even the undecideds plus an outcome at the worst side of the margin of error wouldn't change the results.

That's more like it!

Prior to seeing this poll results, most of the news I've read about the propositions was along these lines (excerpted from the September 5 Sacremento Bee):

Two of the three initiatives Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed to fix California government are losing badly and a third is trending in the same direction - toward defeat, according to a new Field Poll.

A fourth initiative aimed at the financial heart of Schwarzenegger's union-funded political opposition continues to hold a substantial lead, although a huge bankroll of labor-generated campaign cash poses a threat to the measure.

Which I found pretty depressing; willing sheep to the slaughter and all that.

I'm feeling much better after reading Dafydd's post and the poll results he pointed to. Dafydd thinks the differences in the poll results can be explained by poor poll construction:

This is truly excellent news. Previous polls had shown the measures limping towards defeat, but in each case with very large "undecided" respondents. I almost blogged about this earlier, but I wasn't sure how to explain it: the problem in the earlier polls were lengthy, hard-to-parse questions and no explanation of any of the measures. I was certain that most people's reaction was "huh? I don't get it," and that was artificially lowering the Yes vote.

Well, Dafydd may well be right about this. I'm no expert on polling, but it's obvious that how a poll question is worded can influence the results. For example, one could ask about proposition 74 like this (as the CTA's ads are doing):

Do you support proposition 74, which allows administrators to dismiss teachers for no reason at all, without consulting with parents?

Or like this:

Do you support proposition 74, which allows administrators to dismiss poor teachers instead of forcing schools to keep bad teachers no matter what they do (tenure)?

I'm pretty sure those two questions would get different results in a poll!

Whatever the reasons for the differences between this new SurveyUSA poll and the earlier polls, this is very hopeful news (assuming, of course, that the new poll is more accurate). It put a smile on my face for the morning!

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