Posts tagged polls

Amazing," said Cavuto, when it was all over. "It’s in there. It’s worth a read.

In which Fox News asks the question on everyone’s mind: Would a war in Syria match the Biblical description of the End Times?

What I’m curious about is this: How many people in the U.S. are actually excited about the prospect of the End Times and are therefore hoping for a military intervention in Syria because they believe we’re on the cusp of fulfiling a biblical prophecy regarding the end of the world?

Like, who is Fox News appealing to here?

Can we do a survey about that?

(via kohenari)

FJP: You got me curious so I did what I often do when I’m curious and hit up Google.

Christian News Wire reports that “41% of all U.S. adults, 54% of Protestants and 77% of Evangelicals believe the world is now living in the biblical end times.” The findings are from a recent poll conducted by the Barna Group, a faith and culture polling firm.

Kind of incredible, no? Even James F. Fitzgerald, author of a book arguing that the End Times have already begun, is surprised. And he commissioned the poll.

"I thought the numbers could possibly be as low as 10% for the overall population and maybe 30% for Christians in general, or less," Fitzgerald tells CNW. "I had no way to know before the survey. But the response of the overall population was higher than what I expected from Christians, and the Evangelical’s response was nearly twice what I thought."

Last December, National Catholic Reporter reported that more than a third of Americans believed extreme weather is the sign of End Times. The story, based on a poll conducted by Public Religion Research Institute, found that “[t]he conviction is particularly strong among white evangelical Protestants (65 percent), and less common among Catholics (21 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (15 percent). Overall, 36 percent of Americans see signs of the end times in Mother Nature’s fury.”

A 2010 Pew Research Poll found that “41% of Americans believe that Jesus Christ definitely (23%) or probably (18%) will have returned to earth” by 2050.

And if you go back all that way back to 1999, Newsweek ran a cover story called “Prophecy: What the Bible Says About the End of the World.” In it, the magazine reported that “forty percent of all Americans and 45 percent of Christians believe that the world will end, as the Bible predicts, in a battle at Armageddon between Jesus and the Antichrist.”

So, who is Fox News appealing to here? A very generous slice of the American people. — Michael

We continue to find that Democrats trust most TV news sources other than Fox, while Republicans don’t trust anything except Fox. News preferences are very polarizing along party lines.

Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in a press release on a new poll released on American trust in its broadcast news stations. Fox News’ Credibility Declines (PDF).

The News: Americans don’t trust broadcast news sources. Matter of fact, more people distrust NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Comedy Central than trust them.

However, Fox News is the news org that Americans are most skeptical about. According to the PPP poll, 46% of voters distrust it while 41% trust it.

The only news org that a majority does trust? PBS, with 52% of voters saying they trust it and 29% saying they don’t.

Or what if you’re interested in the opinions of a group that isn’t defined by the electoral boundaries — or one where there just isn’t good polling available to aggregate?

These are the sorts of questions where journalism turns to pundit representatives. Want to know what “hockey moms” think? Sarah Palin gets called upon to represent them. How about the Occupy movement? Call Michael Moore. The Tea Party? Bring in Dick Armey. Gun owners? Alert Alex Jones. This sort of representative punditry comes with obvious, distorting flaws: Alex Jones doesn’t represent all gun owners and Michael Moore doesn’t represent everyone on the activist left, but the workflows of contemporary journalism let both stand in for what a larger group is thinking or feeling. And if your group doesn’t have an obvious mouthpiece, someone already in a cable news producer’s contacts? You might just get excluded from the narrative altogether.

Feelings, Nothing More Than Feelings: The Measured Rise of Sentiment Analysis in Journalism, Nieman Lab.

An interesting piece by Sam Petulla on the pros and cons of sentiment analysis. What it is:

Sentiment analysis aims to analyze what a percentage of the population “feels” about something, often by measuring the sentiments embedded in social media posts or by asking a community directly to share its feelings, thoughts, or opinions in a machine-readable way. 

Bottom line: Petulla argues that, when used appropriately (read: clearly state its limitations and don’t call it a poll), sentiment analysis can help alleviate the above quoted issue by getting more voices into a news conversation.

thepenguinpress:

Salon says “Nate Silver nails it.” Above, a comparison of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions compared to the results thus far.
(We’re also thrilled Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise is currently #3 on Amazon!)

FJP: For more thoughts on polls, see here.

thepenguinpress:

Salon says “Nate Silver nails it.” Above, a comparison of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions compared to the results thus far.

(We’re also thrilled Silver’s book The Signal and the Noise is currently #3 on Amazon!)

FJP: For more thoughts on polls, see here.

It should be illegal to publish poll numbers.

Said Matt Taibbi in last month’s Rolling Stone, which is a rant that is very much worth reading. He went on:

Think about it: Banning poll numbers would force the media to actually cover the issues. As it stands now, the horse race is the entire story – I can think of a couple of cable networks that would have to go completely dark tomorrow, as in Dan-Rather-Dead-Fucking-Air dark, if they had to come up with even 10 seconds of news content that wasn’t centered on who was winning. That’s the dirtiest secret we in the media have kept from you over the years: Most of us suck so badly at our jobs, and are so uninterested in delving into any polysyllabic subject, that we would literally have to put down our shovels and go home if we didn’t have poll numbers we can use to terrify our audiences.

The thing is, Taibbi’s point is substantiated quite clearly by findings in the the Pew Research Center’s newly released Winning the Media Campaign 2012, a report on election coverage since the summer.

The report shows what we all sort of knew. That yes, both candidates received more negative coverage than positive. And yes, alternative narratives exist on different channels: MSNBC doesn’t like Romney and FOX doesn’t like Obama. Also, social media users really don’t like Romney.

But the most interesting finding of all:

Throughout the eight-week period studied, a good deal of the difference in treatment of the two contenders is related to who was perceived to be ahead in the race. When horse-race stories-those focused on strategy, tactics and the polls-are taken out of the analysis, and one looks at those framed around the candidates’ policy ideas, biographies and records, the distinctions in the tone of media coverage between the two nominees vanish.

Hat tip to Slate for pointing that out in its review of the report

As Pew explains, much of that imbalance is the result of the type of horse-race coverage that has come to dominate much of the political news cycle… With those stories removed from the equation, Obama’s positive-negative split was 15 percent to 32 percent, while Romney’s was 14 percent to 32 percent.

The same point, in a graph.

Nieman Lab's Jonathan Stray weighs in, explaining that “horse race” or “political strategy” coverage of politics has been nearly 60-70% of all political journalism over the last several decades. He writes:

Certainly, it’s important to keep track of who might win an election — but 60 or 70 percent? There are several different arguments that this is way too much. First, it’s very insider-y, focusing on how the political game is played rather than what sort of information might help voters choose between candidates. Jay Rosen has called this the cult of the savvy

Now, here’s an interesting caveat on the subject of polls. 

Last week we saw a lot of drama around Nate Silver, the darling of this year’s pollsters after his stunning success predicting outcomes in the 2008 presidential election. He was, in short, accused (by the right) of cheerleading for Obama’s victory, rather than accurately forecasting results, and subsequently defended (by the left). That’s the very short, overly simplified version. It was an interesting debate, which you should read about (see herehere, and here… but mainly here).

The interesting thing is that the discussion highlighted a small point that has very much to do with Taibbi and Stray’s disapproval of horse race coverage. It wasn’t mentioned until PBS Mediashift’s Mark Hannah said it, but the drama over the fact that Silver could have been unfairly favoring Obama is worrisome because polls might actually influence voters. Hannah explains that polls both measure and contribute to a campaign’s momentum:

Canadian political scientist Mark Pickup has argued that voters often take cues about candidates based on media reports of polls. This “bandwagon effect,” by which voters begin to align themselves with the candidate who’s perceived as more popular in the polls, has been documented by NYU professors Vicki Morwitz and Carol Pluzinski. In their study of the 1992 presidential election, Morwitz and Pluzinski demonstrated that political polls change not just voters’ expectations of who will win the election but, in some cases, their preference for a certain candidate.

So, in summary, an overabundance of horse race coverage doesn’t help anyone. It increases negative messaging in the media. It deepens the partisan divide and pollsters like Silver face the brunt of that fighting. It better be right, because it might be influencing voters. And we’re wasting time that could be spent on better journalism. — Jihii

How Much Do You Trust the Mass Media?
Via Gallup:

Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.

When broken down by political affiliation, Democrats are more trusting (58%) of the mass media than independents (31%) or Republicans (26%).
Gallup, U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High.

How Much Do You Trust the Mass Media?

Via Gallup:

Americans’ distrust in the media hit a new high this year, with 60% saying they have little or no trust in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately, and fairly. Distrust is up from the past few years, when Americans were already more negative about the media than they had been in years prior to 2004.

When broken down by political affiliation, Democrats are more trusting (58%) of the mass media than independents (31%) or Republicans (26%).

Gallup, U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High.

(In)tolerance
A poll released today by the Arab American Institute explores attitudes Americans have toward Arabs and Muslims. 
"The data extracted," the Institute writes, ”indicates that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim political rhetoric has taken a toll on American public opinion, especially along age and party lines.”
Takeaways from the report:

1. Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and American Muslims have the lowest favorable/highest unfavorable ratings among the groups covered.
2. Muslims were the only group with a net unfavorable rating.
3. Note that one in five Americans were either unfamiliar with or not sure of their attitudes toward these communities.
4. Sikhs and Mormons also fare poorly, but in the case of Sikhs, one in four Americans are “unfamiliar” or “not sure”.
5. There is a deep generational divide, which is reflected in a partisan divide.
6. Younger Americans (18-25) rate Arabs and Muslims up to 17 points higher than the older generation. They also rate Arab Americans and American Muslims higher as well.
7. Younger Americans rate Catholics and the various Protestant denominations covered in the survey almost 20 points lower than do older Americans (65+). The younger group also rates Mormons 15 points lower.
8. This is reflected in a deep partisan divide and even more so in a division between those who describe themselves as Obama or Romney voters. For example, note how the ratings given to Arabs and Muslims by Obama and Romney voters are mirror reflections of each other. While Obama voters give Arabs a net 51%/29% favorable rating and Muslims a net 53%/29% rating; Romney voters give Arabs a 30%/50% net unfavorable rating and Muslims a 25%/57% unfavorable rating.
9. Democrats and Obama voters give no group a net negative rating. Republicans and Romney voters only give strong negative ratings to Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and American Muslims.

Image: Detail from The American Divide: How We View Arabs and Muslims.Select to embiggen.

(In)tolerance

poll released today by the Arab American Institute explores attitudes Americans have toward Arabs and Muslims. 

"The data extracted," the Institute writes, ”indicates that anti-Arab and anti-Muslim political rhetoric has taken a toll on American public opinion, especially along age and party lines.”

Takeaways from the report:

1. Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and American Muslims have the lowest favorable/highest unfavorable ratings among the groups covered.

2. Muslims were the only group with a net unfavorable rating.

3. Note that one in five Americans were either unfamiliar with or not sure of their attitudes toward these communities.

4. Sikhs and Mormons also fare poorly, but in the case of Sikhs, one in four Americans are “unfamiliar” or “not sure”.

5. There is a deep generational divide, which is reflected in a partisan divide.

6. Younger Americans (18-25) rate Arabs and Muslims up to 17 points higher than the older generation. They also rate Arab Americans and American Muslims higher as well.

7. Younger Americans rate Catholics and the various Protestant denominations covered in the survey almost 20 points lower than do older Americans (65+). The younger group also rates Mormons 15 points lower.

8. This is reflected in a deep partisan divide and even more so in a division between those who describe themselves as Obama or Romney voters. For example, note how the ratings given to Arabs and Muslims by Obama and Romney voters are mirror reflections of each other. While Obama voters give Arabs a net 51%/29% favorable rating and Muslims a net 53%/29% rating; Romney voters give Arabs a 30%/50% net unfavorable rating and Muslims a 25%/57% unfavorable rating.

9. Democrats and Obama voters give no group a net negative rating. Republicans and Romney voters only give strong negative ratings to Arabs, Muslims, Arab Americans, and American Muslims.

Image: Detail from The American Divide: How We View Arabs and Muslims.
Select to embiggen.

Americans’ Confidence in Television News
Gallup has a new poll showing that American’s confidence in television news is at an all time low. However, they can’t quite put their finger on why that might be so:

It is not clear precisely why Americans soured so much on television news this year compared with last. Americans’ negativity likely reflects the continuation of a broader trend that appeared to enjoy only a brief respite last year. Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general.

FJP — We’ll hazard a guess: US television news is positively craptastic.

Americans’ Confidence in Television News

Gallup has a new poll showing that American’s confidence in television news is at an all time low. However, they can’t quite put their finger on why that might be so:

It is not clear precisely why Americans soured so much on television news this year compared with last. Americans’ negativity likely reflects the continuation of a broader trend that appeared to enjoy only a brief respite last year. Americans have grown more negative about the media in recent years, as they have about many other U.S. institutions and the direction of the country in general.

FJP — We’ll hazard a guess: US television news is positively craptastic.

theatlantic:

The Problem With Polls About Whether Obama Is a Muslim

Public Policy Polling, which is a Democratic firm, is sometimes maligned for being an unreliable pollster, but in this case the biggest problem is that they’re asking the question at all. The belief that Obama is a Muslim, like the belief that he is somehow not an American citizen, is pernicious and flatly wrong. It has also been rejected by the vast majority of the American body politic, although there are some glaring examples of politicians who flirt with it to score political points. But if the goal is to fight mistaken beliefs, this is the wrong way to do it. The Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan has researched misperceptions and conspiracy-theory belief in America politics. In particular, he and colleague Jason Reifler have found that false ideas, once introduced, are very hard to get rid of. One especially bad way to fight them is to reiterate them:
The more times a false claim is repeated, the more likely people are to be exposed to it. The fewer people exposed to a false claim, the less likely it is to spread. It is also important not to repeat false claims because people are more likely to judge familiar claims as true. As false claims are repeated, they become more familiar and thus may come to seem more true to people.
The pollsters, by asking the question, and news outlets, by gleefully publicizing the results, are playing into this vicious cycle.
Read more. [Image: Reuters]


Interesting question, do you think reporting of polls like this means that the media unduly influences the news agenda?

theatlantic:

The Problem With Polls About Whether Obama Is a Muslim

Public Policy Polling, which is a Democratic firm, is sometimes maligned for being an unreliable pollster, but in this case the biggest problem is that they’re asking the question at all. The belief that Obama is a Muslim, like the belief that he is somehow not an American citizen, is pernicious and flatly wrong. It has also been rejected by the vast majority of the American body politic, although there are some glaring examples of politicians who flirt with it to score political points. But if the goal is to fight mistaken beliefs, this is the wrong way to do it. The Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan has researched misperceptions and conspiracy-theory belief in America politics. In particular, he and colleague Jason Reifler have found that false ideas, once introduced, are very hard to get rid of. One especially bad way to fight them is to reiterate them:

The more times a false claim is repeated, the more likely people are to be exposed to it. The fewer people exposed to a false claim, the less likely it is to spread. It is also important not to repeat false claims because people are more likely to judge familiar claims as true. As false claims are repeated, they become more familiar and thus may come to seem more true to people.

The pollsters, by asking the question, and news outlets, by gleefully publicizing the results, are playing into this vicious cycle.

Read more. [Image: Reuters]

Interesting question, do you think reporting of polls like this means that the media unduly influences the news agenda?

shortformblog:

Jon Stewart dominates Bill O’Reilly’s own poll
Credit where credit is due: The O’Reilly Factor’s viewer polls always have a big stamp on the bottom that says “NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL,” and that’s as true now as it was when we didn’t find their outcomes so amusing. That said, such a disclaimer also means O’Reilly and his people probably didn’t have to unleash this dispiriting (for him) result to the world. Just look at that map! Jon Stewart is one of the most convincing and talented talkers in the public eye, and it’s his willingness to have nuanced yet incisive debate with his ideological opposites that make him so. source
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shortformblog:

Jon Stewart dominates Bill O’Reilly’s own poll

Credit where credit is due: The O’Reilly Factor’s viewer polls always have a big stamp on the bottom that says “NOT A SCIENTIFIC POLL,” and that’s as true now as it was when we didn’t find their outcomes so amusing. That said, such a disclaimer also means O’Reilly and his people probably didn’t have to unleash this dispiriting (for him) result to the world. Just look at that map! Jon Stewart is one of the most convincing and talented talkers in the public eye, and it’s his willingness to have nuanced yet incisive debate with his ideological opposites that make him so. source

Follow ShortFormBlog

Tis the season of US federal budgets and threats of government shutdowns.
With that in mind, CNN has a great explainer about, um — how to put this delicately — how informationally innocent we Americans are when it comes to what’s actually in the federal budget.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday, most Americans think that the government spends a lot more money than it actually does on such unpopular programs as foreign aid and public broadcasting…
…According to the poll, on average, Americans estimate that foreign aid takes up 10 percent of the federal budget, and one in five think it represents about 30 percent of the money the government spends. But the actual figure is closer to one percent, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget from the 2010 fiscal year’s $3.5 trillion budget.
OK. Let’s try more low-hanging fruit - funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our survey indicates nearly half of all Americans would like to see major cuts.
According to our poll the public estimates that the government spent five percent of its budget last year on public television and radio.
Not even close. The real answer is about one-tenth of one percent.

For more examples of our American brand of indelible budgetary acumen: CNN Poll: Americans flunk budget IQ test.

Tis the season of US federal budgets and threats of government shutdowns.

With that in mind, CNN has a great explainer about, um — how to put this delicately — how informationally innocent we Americans are when it comes to what’s actually in the federal budget.

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Friday, most Americans think that the government spends a lot more money than it actually does on such unpopular programs as foreign aid and public broadcasting…

…According to the poll, on average, Americans estimate that foreign aid takes up 10 percent of the federal budget, and one in five think it represents about 30 percent of the money the government spends. But the actual figure is closer to one percent, according to data from the Office of Management and Budget from the 2010 fiscal year’s $3.5 trillion budget.

OK. Let’s try more low-hanging fruit - funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Our survey indicates nearly half of all Americans would like to see major cuts.

According to our poll the public estimates that the government spent five percent of its budget last year on public television and radio.

Not even close. The real answer is about one-tenth of one percent.

For more examples of our American brand of indelible budgetary acumen: CNN Poll: Americans flunk budget IQ test.