Monday, March 19, 2007

Who the hell should believe the polls?


New York Times: The poll -- the third in Iraq since early 2004 by ABC News and media partners -- draws a stark portrait of an increasingly pessimistic population under great emotional stress.

TimesOnline: Most Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.

New York Times: --The number of Iraqis who say their own life is going well has dipped from 71 percent in November 2005 to 39 percent now.

TimesOnline: The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American-led invasion four years ago this week.

New York Times: --Only 18 percent of Iraqis have confidence in U.S. and coalition troops, and 86 percent are concerned that someone in their household will be a victim of violence.

TimesOnline: By a majority of two to one, Iraqis believe military operations now under way will disarm all militias. More than half say security will improve after a withdrawal of multinational forces.

New York Times: Fewer than half in the country, 42 percent, said that life in Iraq now is better than it was under Saddam Hussein, the late dictator accused of murdering tens of thousands during a brutal regime.

TimesOnline: 49% of those questioned preferred life under Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, to living under Saddam. Only 26% said things had been better in Saddam’s era, while 16% said the two leaders were as bad as each other and the rest did not know or refused to answer.

The New York Times tops off the negativity with:

--About three-fourths of Iraqis report feelings of anger, depression and difficulty concentrating. --More than half of Iraqis have curtailed activities like going out of their homes, going to markets or other crowded places and traveling through police checkpoints.

--Slightly more than half of Iraqis -- 51 percent -- now say that violence against U.S. forces is acceptable -- up from 17 percent who felt that way in early 2004. More than nine in 10 Sunni Arabs in Iraq now feel this way.

--While 63 percent said they felt very safe in their neighborhoods in late 2005, only 26 percent feel that way now.

While the TimesOnline: Iraqis: life is getting better has...

Only 27% think there is a civil war in Iraq, compared with 61% who do not, according to the survey carried out last month.
The Daily Mail has more: Iraqis ask: Civil war, what civil war?

Call it dueling polls.

First, the USA Today/Gallup poll found 76% of Americans believe there is a civil war in Iraq.

Next, an Opinion Research Business poll found that 61% of Iraqis say there is NO CIVIL WAR. But what do those Iraqis know? They only live there, while Americans watch this stuff on TV. Well, not actually watch this stuff. Jon Stewart and Jay Leno make jokes about it all the time so it must be true.

But this was the big news:

Another surprise was that only 27% believed they were caught up in a civil war. Again, that number divided along religious lines, with 41% of Sunnis believing Iraq was in a civil war, compared with only 15% of Shi’ites.

Not even a majority of the Sunnis say it is a civil war.

UPDATE 2: A new post about a different poll: “44% say post-war world is worse.”

A post in Slate continues along the same thread, pointing out the seemingly insatiable appetite for negative press:

U.S. military deaths in Iraq have apparently declined by about 20% since the "surge" began. It would be a caricature of MSM behavior if the New York Times, instead of simply reporting this potentially good news, first constructed some bad news to swaddle it in, right? From today's Times:

"The heightened American street presence may already have contributed to an increase in the percentage of American deaths that occur in Baghdad.

"Over all, the number of American soldiers killed in Iraq from hostilities since Feb. 14, the start of the new Baghdad security plan, fell to 66, from 87 in the previous four weeks.

"But with more soldiers in the capital on patrol and in the neighborhood garrisons, a higher proportion of the American deaths have occurred in Baghdad — 36 percent after Feb. 14 compared with 24 percent in the previous four weeks. Also over the past four weeks, a higher proportion of military deaths from roadside bombs have occurred in Baghdad — 45 percent compared with 39 percent."

End Notes:

Here is the ABC News article that reported on its poll: Voices From Iraq 2007: Ebbing Hope in a Landscape of Loss

March 19, 2007 -- A new national survey paints a devastating portrait of life in Iraq: widespread violence, torn lives, displaced families, emotional damage, collapsing services, an ever starker sectarian chasm — and a draining away of the underlying optimism that once prevailed.
Hot Air has a detailed breakdown and commentary on the TimesOnline poll here.
There is so much and ultimately, for our edification, so little to take away from this data, this... clearly uninformed poll-taking. Which is the worse... that the poll-takers set out with a specific agenda to deliberately distort and manipulate the data? Or, less perniciously, the pollsters' incompetence has shown itself in the wildly varying results? The one indisputable iota of relative objective fact that I can discern is each outlet's determination to spin the data - in one way or the other.

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