Friday, September 15, 2006

How not to ask poll questions

To support new legislation by Tim Ryan (D-OH) and Rosa DeLaura (D-Conn) which is purportedly designed to help reduced the number of abortions, Third Way commissioned a poll to find how registered voters would respond to their efforts.

The problem is that the poll makes compound statements which appear to have confused some individuals. For example, the statement: "With one out of every five pregnancies ending in abortion, we should try to reduce the number of abortions in America while still preserving the basic right to have one" is answered "strongly agree" by 15% and "somewhat agree" by 22.1% of the people who thought abortion should be illegal in all circumstances.

Most people looking at those number would wonder if the respondents were confused by the compound statement and try to use another statement.

The other question, "There are far too many abortions in America and we need to make most abortions illegal, even if that means putting people who have abortions or doctors who perform abortions in jail" is answered "strongly agree" or "somewhat agree" by 5% of the individuals who said that they thought abortion should be legal in all circumstances. How good is a poll if 5% of people who think abortion should be legal in all circumstances answer that they want to put abortionists or women who have abortions in jail?

The Family Research Council blog also points out that representatives from Democrats for Life weren't present at this press conference and also notes that this press conference took place a week before Democrats for Life planned to introduce their legislation on September 20.

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, withdrew its support over the bills emphasis on preventing pregnancy.
"Our goal is to help pregnant women," she said, adding that she thinks Ryan's goal "is more prevention and contraception."

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., the Democratic co-chairman of the Pro Life Caucus, also is not supporting the bill.

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