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November 20, 2008

Push Poll or Bad Poll?

Like many conservative talk-radio hosts, John Ziegler kind of seems like an asshole. At the end of an interview with Nate Silver, Zeigler signed off with a tart "Go fuck yourself." But the poll conducted by John Zogby International for Zeigler's anti-Obama website, while sloppy and biased, is not quite the push poll that Silver says it is.

Zogby Poll

One of the more inflammatory questions from Zeigler's poll.

A definition of push poll linked to by Silver says that it is "an opinion poll done with loaded questions or offering negative information to sway the opinions of those polled." While the multiple choice format in the Zogby/Ziegler poll has serious flaws—as Silver pointed out, "launched his career" is a pretty vague phrase, for one—it does not appear designed to sway the opinion of the respondents. Indeed, if Ziegler were so interested in altering the election's outcome, wouldn't the poll have been released prior to Election Day?

Of course, we're not defending the poll itself; the "right" answers to many of the questions seem less-than-correct, and it in no way proves that Obama voters are any more misinformed than the public as a whole (which is what Zeigler seems to be trying to prove). It's an unquestionably bad poll, and it proves little more than that 500 or so Obama supporters had some difficulty answering a dozen questions cherry-picked by John Ziegler. Still, it's not a push poll, it's just a bad poll, which is plenty bad enough.

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