Monday, February 16, 2015

Polling (Un)Surprise

A poll by a Georgia transportation group found support for a tax to support Georgia transportation, according to this AJC story.

Here's a key graf:
The poll, conducted for the Georgia Transportation Alliance, shows strong support among Georgians for lawmakers to boost funding for transportation, according to an advance copy obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The alliance is an arm of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which has made increased transportation funding a priority.
Beware when a poll coincidentally happens to support the sponsor's point of view.

It's a survey of 603 "likely voters" earlier this month. But what I can't tell, at least at first blush, is how the survey was conducted. The Chamber's vice president, however, defended the poll. “It’s scientifically accurate." The AJC notes, however, the results differ from one it conducted in January. That poll did use serious methodology that included both landlines and cell phones. This new poll, I can't tell if it's a robo-poll, whether it included cell phones, or anything at all of the methodology except they do provide the questions. On the site of the group that did the polling: "What separates us from the pack is the use of our innovative techniques both in conducting the survey and analyzing the results." I don't care from innovative. I care from the quality of the sample.

So let's look at the questions. At first look they seem straightforward, but think about the order here. I can't tell if the questions were rotated in any way, and the order in which they are presented could certainly prime a respondent to be more responsive to raising taxes for roads.

First Question:  How important are roads, bridges and public transportation to economic development and job growth?
You ask that one first, you've set up the rest of the answers to be more positive even if you say the choice is between killing kittens and taxes to improve roads (which, by the way, I support). Go to the bottom of this page and see the subsequent questions. They are designed, quite frankly, to elicit a positive answer to increased taxes for roads.

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