Monday, November 23, 2009

The Art of Polls (or you might as well make the numbers up)

Over at Indiana Barrister, Abdul Hakim-Shabazz posted some interesting poll results. He doesn't cite what the poll asks, what the numbers are, who did the poll, or anything like that. But still, even without silly stuff like a "source", it's still worth a read:

And speaking of polling, incumbent Greg Ballard is polling about 50-percent in the African-American community, a key constituency for Democrats.

I find that any Republican polling that high among African-Americans could very well be a sign of the Apocalypse.

Abdul has an extensive background in the news business, as well as politics. Any first year journalism or political science major can tell you how easily the poll itself can be manipulated in who you survey, the question asked, how the question is asked, answers to choose from, etc... And even the numbers themselves can be manipulated, such as when Mayor Ballard recently "tweeted" that Indianapolis was one of the top 40 safest cities, where really we're really #38/40 on the list of the 40 biggest cities in the US.

As I commented on Abdul's blog, if you're not going to bother to cite a source and examine it, you might as well make the numbers up. It has about the same level of credibility.


  1. Matt,

    Thanks for the link. I stand by what I wrote. I talk to a lot of people "on background" to get information. Whether you believe it is really immaterial. The readers of Indiana Barrister are free to do with the information what they wish.

  2. Abdul,

    Thanks for responding. As a journalist myself, I'm familiar with the concept of anonymous sources, speaking off the record, and so on. But I have never heard of an anonymous poll.


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