Is the Race between Chaffetz and Cannon Really Tight?

Okay we all know that the Deseret News’ cheif editor is Chris Cannon’s Brother, Joe Cannon. And we are all confident that Mr. Cannon would never let his paper show bias towards any candidate, right? (wink, wink, nod, nod).

However, their recent news article on polling shows that bias again in two ways. As with all polling done by Dan Jones and associates, their polling numbers are outrageously low.

For this politcal survey Dan Jones managed to poll a whopping total of 203 potential voters. To see this total look at this lovely graphic and read the parenthetical phrase at the bottom. It is interesting that nowhere in the article do they mention the 203 number.

I will give them credit for sharing the +/- 7 percent with us. But what few people understand is that +/- 7 percent is directly related to the number polled. Had they polled another 200 or even 800 individuals the could have had a +/- 5 percent or +/- 3 percent, respectively.

Sure if the results would have remained 39-37 (for Cannon), then it would have still been too close to call. However, we won’t know because the polling was incomplete.

The second issue is that they polled independent voters and said that would be the key to Chaffetz winning the race. While the numbers here are still suspect. That isn’t the key problem for me. The problem I have is that they fail (complete neglect) to mention that Utah has closed primaries. This is something the Mr. Bernick is aware of, because he wrote a piece about this 2 years ago. Ooops. This point is mute moot. I completely missed it in the article. But I am still suspicious about the stats.

If you are an Independent voter, you need to register as a Republican. Why would Bernick and his editor not mention that in their article? Perhaps, they don’t want the independent voter to register to vote. Perhaps, They would like to keep the status quo.

If you are an independent and you want to see Chris Cannon out, don’t wait for the general election. It is very likely that our next Congressman will be decided on June 24th and not in November. Register yourself to as a Republican, even if you feel like you have hold your nose while you do so.

If you are an independent and you want to see Jason Chaffetz win, then now is the time to act. Go to your county clerk’s office or website and register as a Republican. It is the number one way that you can show your support for Mr. Chaffetz.

To me this is just another blatant example of poor politcal reporting by the Deseret News and another example of the main stream media trying to influence the vote. Don’t let their lack of reporting this properly influence you and your decision.

Here is a list of counties in the Third District and how to register (or renew your registration as a Republican):

Salt Lake County Voter Registration

Utah County Voter Registration Q & A (form – pdf)

Juab County Clerk’s Office (email)

Sanpete County Clerk’s Office (scroll down for voter information and this form – pdf)

Millard County Clerk’s Office (Just use the same form as the other counties)

Sevier County Voter Registration Information (form – pdf)

Beaver County Clerk’s Office (form -pdf)

I Don’t Fit the Mold

Maybe it’s because I am from Utah, but I don’t fit the statistic the Michael Medved quotes in his recent column on TV and Liberalism. I openly admit that I am a TV addict. I love TV and if I watch at least an hour everyday. Okay, I don’t get the 4 hours a day like the truly die hard viewers in the study, but I do watch a lot.

Medved also comments that the research is inconclusive as to the cause of the correlation between television and liberalism. It is not known whether TV makes one more liberal or wither liberal ideas cause TV addiction. I would have to vote for that latter.

As I have gotten older, I have become more conservative in my political, fiscal, and social views. Through out this, I have watched a lot of TV. However, as my views become more and more conservative, I find television less and less entertaining.

I am even thinking about just giving up on the TV and turning to books. There are so many great things to read out there; why am I wasting my time of TV. I tell myself that it is because I can put TV down for a few minutes to hug a crying child, or put away a few dishes, or some other quick family task. But with a book, I feel like I have to dedicate 100% of my attention. If you know anything about how I read, then you know that this is true. I am a very slow contemplative reader. Unless, I am not interested, then I just skim it and forget everything that I read.

Anyway, I still love TV and I am still a conservative. However, I feel that my conservative principles are influencing me further and further away from the TV.

More Dan Jones Antics

(c) 2006 Deseret News, used here under the fair use laws.Okay, blaming Dan Jones for all of the problems with the Deseret News’ report that Utahns don’t want tax cuts for businesses isn’t enrtirely fair.  The Deseret News should carry some blame too.

Specifically, I am concerned with the graphic presented in the article (also shown in this post).  I hate to repeat many previous posts slamming Dan Jones and the Deseret News.  But I must bring up at least three points on this.

1. Note that this has a margin of error (see the small print) of +/- 5%. This means that it is statistically believed that the “real” answer falls somewhere between 47-57% of the population actually don’t support the tax cut. However, if you take the fact that you combined 2 percentage points (+/- 5% times 2) then it really is somewhere between 42-62% don’t support the bill. A real statistician wouldn’t have reported this, because they can’t say anything accept that the people are undecided.

2. Look at the last few words of the question, “saving businesses up to $50 million.” Well, the liberals have managed to convince most people that business is bad, and so they here this last part and they don’t like the idea of businesses getting a cut. They voted with emotion because of the biased question. They were tricked out of voting with their heads and realizing that a tax cut to business is a tax cut to the business user, and we are all business users.

If you doubt my assumptions, I invite you to look at the other graphic that they present in the article. The top portion is very revealing.  Again look it the last few words of the question, which reads, “saving . . . electrical producers and their ratepayers $3.4 million dollars.”  The participant realizes that he/she is a ratepayer, and they want to save $3.4 million, so they suddenly favor it.

You might further argue that they use similar verbiage in the question about cable TV.  I would argue that the difference is reflected in the fact that not all participants were cable subscribers.  So, they leaned towards the businesses are bad model drummed into our heads.

3. Finally, and I have said this in previous posts, but note that they only surveyed 406 people. Any real statistician knows that for the entire population of Utah they need at least 2000 participants to have a completely representative sample.

Just some thoughts from my statistical 101 days and from when I taught a 300 level college level course in research methods.

Another Biased Poll

You all know my love for Polls.  You all know that I love to check for biased questioning and biased methods.  Well, It has been done again.  Regardless of whether you feel that polling is news or not, the newspapers are treating it as such, so we need to address it.

Dan Jones and Associates, the Deseret News, and KSL-TV have conducted another poll of Utahns to discover what they think about the possibility of a tax cut.  I was amazed to see the results.  Supposedly 63% of Utahns favor spending more on State “needs.”

That seemed just way too high for my likings.  So, I go to the heart of the survey.  Unfortunately, the news article on the subject presents us with only one question.  It reads:

Utah is currently running large tax surpluses.  Between the current fiscal year and the next fiscal year, budget experts say an extra $700 million will be coming in to the state.  Some legislators are talking about tax cuts to go along with the tax reform.

In general, do you favor cutting taxes or using the extra money for state needs like education funding, road construction and/or health care for the needy?

Warning lights should be going off for the honest survey statistician.  About half way through the first paragraph of that one question (yes, there was only one question there), the survey taker fell asleep.  So, when it finally comes time to answer the question, all the respondent thinks of is care for the needy.  So, of course, I strongly favor caring for the needy.

There are however, other real concerns with the survey. This is to be a study that reflects the opinion of roughly 2 million Utahns.  For a body of people that big, the minimum survey participants should be 2,000 people.  So, how many people participated?  That’s right a gigantic 413.  Not even a quarter of the recommended minimum for a statistically valid statistic.

This sample size leads to the next revealing factor in this survey.  It has a margin of error of +/- 5.0 percent.  That is statistically acceptable, and an okay margin of error.  However, we must note that +/- 5.0 percent is the minimum standard for a publishable survey.  The closer to 0.0 percent the margin of error is the better the survey.

Well, the article argues that 63% are in favor of increase government spending.  But the 63% is a composite of 2 numbers.  thus, when you calculate the +/- 5.0 you need to double it.  Thus it is really +/- 10.0 percent.  That means the real number is possibly 53% and the highest possibility is 73% favor increased spending.

That tells us nothing!!!!

Sure it still looks like more Utahns favor increased spending.  But you need to take into account the biasing question.  I don’t believe it.  I just can’t believe that 63% (or even 53%) of Utahns don’t want a tax cut.

So, in an attempt to sound like a broken record, Where’s my tax cut??????

Polling Opinions of the Pope

I just can’t get the ABC News Survey that I participated in on Thursday.  It seems to keep haunting me.  It’s like Nightmare on Elm Street (Jason keeps returning and returning).

One of the questions that really baffled me was: “Do you approve of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI?”  Actually, I think they said Ratzinger, I don’t really remember, so I am choosing the more neutral (and perhaps appropriate title).

I responded that I really don’t think that my opinion on that matters.  As a Latter-day Saint, I don’t believe that the Pope was chosen by God.  But I have enough respect for Catholicism to not treat his selection with the commonality of an elected official.

If the Catholics see this man as a chosen leader of God’s People, then my opinion doesn’t really matter.

I wasn’t going to write about the Pope at all.  It was a matter of respect for the Pope and religion.  It just feels to me that, if this man were chosen by God, then what does a person’s opinion matter.  One’s opinion is a simple slap in the face of God.

And I don’t want to a person standing before God, saying, “Yes, sir, I think you were wrong.”

So, when the ABC pollster asked me this question, I simply told him that I refuse to answer the question.  I just hope that my silence on the selection doesn’t have too much of an effect on the poll results.

But respect for religion is more important than making sure my opinion about such religions is represented in some biased poll any way.

ABC Poll. Fixed?

I received an interesting phone call tonight. Actually, it seems that I have been receiving a lot of these types of calls lately.

The man on the other end stated that he wasn’t selling anything and that he was conducting a poll for ABC News / _______ (I forgot who else he said it was, it seems like Reuters). And I am always glad to share my opinion on such things. So, despite the fact that it cut into my TV time, I agreed to continue.

Now before I go on, I wasn’t a big believer in the idea that the main-stream media news had a liberal bias until the whole Dan Rather thing and memo-gate (can we call it that?). I sort of believed that there was a liberal slant, but even that was too strong for me.

But now, after this experience, I am definitely in the camp of stating it as a bias.

The interview started out okay. But slowly, I started to feel like it was leaning more liberal. Then the bomb hit:

Interviewer: “Do you support Pres. George Bush’s Social Security Initiatives?”

Me: “Absolutely, yes.”

Interviewer: “Even when you take into account that Bush’s Social Security Initiatives might cause . . . [I can’t remember what liberal slant they were pushing, my blood started to boil], do you support it?”

Me: “That is such a biasing question. I can’t believe that a survey company would ask that kind of question.”

Interviewer: “I don’t write the questions sir. I just read them.”

Me: “I know that, but whoever wrote these is trying to get me to say what they want. Let me talk to a supervisor or someone.”

Interviewer: “Sure let me go get him.” (This is a very rough paraphrase of the conversation; I wish I would have thought to take notes.)

And when the interviewer comes on he asks me what my problem is, and I said that the question that was asked of me was completely leading and that it shouldn’t be asked. He acknowledged my complaint, and stated that he had received similar complaints and that he would take it back to ABC for their consideration.

Then they proceeded with the interview anyway. I refused to answer any question that I knew was leading or biased.

Throughout the interview I couldn’t have counted all of the obvious telephone interview mistakes that the interviewer made, even if I had my computer next to me keeping tally. It was obvious to me that he had received no formal training, and ABC didn’t care to get an accurate count any way.

So, I might be watching ABC News to see what their biased polls say, then I might just be calling into any talk shows that might choose to discuss it, and let them know my opinion.

But one thing is for sure. I now know that ABC is as biased as CBS. Now it is time for NBC to show it true peacock. Then I will have to subscribe to cable so that I can watch FOX.

Boring Side Note: You might be wondering what makes me such an expert on telephone surveys. Well, first of all, I have taken several courses on research methods. I have taught a course on research methods. I conducted several research studies, one of which was a telephone interview, where in I trained several people on proper ways to conduct telephone interviews. I have also read what is considered to be the premiere book on surveying and interviewing, written by the man who developed the 2000 U.S. Census (my apologies for not remembering his name or the title of the book).