Saturday, 19 January 2008

POLL VS. REALITY FROLICS: NEVADA

Ken Berwitz

Ok, it's time for some more political polling fun and games. 

Here are the latest, thus final, polls from Nevada.  The caucuses will take place today and by dinnertime we'll probably know what the results are.

 

Polling Data

Poll

Date

Sample

Clinton

Obama

Edwards

Spread

RCP Average

01/09 - 01/17

-

37.0

33.3

19.5

Clinton +3.7

Reuters/CSpan/Zogby

01/15 - 01/17

814 LV

42

37

12

Clinton +5.0

Mason-Dixon

01/14 - 01/16

500 LV

41

32

14

Clinton +9.0

American Res. Group

01/09 - 01/14

600 LV

35

32

25

Clinton +3.0

Research 2000

01/11 - 01/13

500 LV

30

32

27

Obama +2.0

 

   

Poll

Date

Romney

McCain

Huckabee

Giuliani

Thompson

Paul

Spread

RCP Average

01/09 - 01/16

25.7

20.7

12.3

11.7

10.7

7.3

Romney +5.0

Mason-Dixon

01/14 - 01/16

34

19

13

6

8

7

Romney +15.0

American Res. Group

01/09 - 01/14

28

21

8

11

13

9

Romney +7.0

Research 2000

01/11 - 01/13

15

22

16

18

11

6

McCain +4.0

 

As you can see,  other than the Mason-Dixon poll, which gives Hillary Clinton a 9% lead (outside the statistical margin of error), everyone is calling this a virtual tie.

On the Republican side, though, Mason-Dixon has Romney up by 15% while Research 2000 says McCain wins by 4%  ARG has been so wrong in the other polls, it is going to have to show me something here to even be mentioned again.

Will these data give us more opportunities to laugh at the difference between polling and reality - as we've done for Iowa, New Hamphire and Michigan already?  

Count on a follow-up blog once the votes are in.  It's a good bet the answer will be yes.

(Incidentally, please excuse the lack of symmetry between Republican and Democratic polling graphs.  For some reason I have difficulty copying this stuff to the blog.  Sorry)


MORE POLITICAL POLL FROLIX: SOUTH CAROLINA

Ken Berwitz

Silly me.  I forgot the bigger of the two primaries, didn't I?

Ok, here are the South Carolina data, as compiled by www.realclear.politics.com.:

 

Date

McCain

Huckabee

Romney

Thompson

Paul

Giuliani

Spread

RCP Average

01/14 - 01/18

26.9

25.9

14.7

14.6

4.4

3.4

McCain +1.0

American Res. Group

01/17 - 01/18

26

33

9

21

2

3

Huckabee +7.0

Reuters/CSpan/Zogby

01/17 - 01/18

27

26

16

12

4

3

McCain +1.0

InsiderAdvantage

01/17 - 01/17

26

26

13

13

5

5

Tie

FOX News

01/16 - 01/17

27

20

15

11

4

3

McCain +7.0

SurveyUSA

01/16 - 01/17

31

27

17

16

5

2

McCain +4.0

Rasmussen

01/16 - 01/16

24

24

18

16

5

3

Tie

Mason-Dixon

01/14 - 01/16

27

25

15

13

6

5

McCain +2.0

Poll

Date

Sample

Obama

Clinton

Edwards

Spread

RCP Average

01/14 - 01/18

-

43.2

33.6

13.2

Obama +9.6

American Res. Group

01/17 - 01/18

600 LV

45

39

10

Obama +6.0

SurveyUSA

01/16 - 01/17

577 LV

46

36

15

Obama +10.0

Rasmussen

01/16 - 01/16

571 LV

44

31

15

Obama +13.0

Mason-Dixon

01/14 - 01/16

400 LV

40

31

13

Obama +9.0

Insider Advantage

01/14 - 01/15

400 LV

41

31

13

Obama +10.0

See All South Carolina Democratic Primary Polling Data

Tomorrow we'll look at them again.  Will we be laughing?  Stay tuned.


ASHURA DON'T WANT TO LIVE THIS WAY

Ken Berwitz

A quick time out from the political bloodletting, so you can feast your eyes on how fundamentalist muslims celebrate "Ashura".

Ashura commemorates the death of Muhammed's grandson, Hussayn Ibn Ali at the battle of Karbala in the year 680

Traditionally, this is seen as a day of great mourning.  It is customary to fast.  Parties, weddings and other happy events are not scheduled. 

Oh, yeah, and some people cut and beat the s*** out of themselves and their families with knives and chains. 

It is said that modern Islam frowns on this practice.  But not every muslim is committed to modern Islam, as the pictures below show - courtesy of www.sweetness-light.com.  (And, of course, what would this kind of ceremony be without chanting hate-filled slogans against Jews and Americans.  Hey, isn't that traditional?)

WARNING:  These are very graphic pictures:

 

Afghan Shiites flagellate themselves with knives during the ...

Pakistani Shia Muslims flail themselves with knife blades as ...

A Pakistani Shia Muslim flails himself  with knife blades as ...

Afghan Shiites flagellate themselves with knives during the ...  Minority Shi'ites celebrate Ashura in Qatif January 19, ...

Minority Shi'ites celebrate Ashura in Qatif January 19, ...

Residents gash their heads with knives as they attend the religious ...

Minority Shi'ites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia ...

Pilgrims gash themselves with knives as they attend the religious ...

An Iranian Shi'ite pilgrim cuts his head with a knife during ...

A Shi'ite pilgrim receives treatment after gashing himself ...

Afghan Shi'ite Muslims flagellate themselves with chains ...

A Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim gashes his head with a sword ...

Afghan Shiites flagellate themselves with knives during an Ashura ...

Afghan Shiites flagellate themselves with knives during an Ashura ...  A resident gashes his head with a knife as he attends the religious ...

An Afghan Shiite washes his knives in bloody water during an ...

An Afghan Shiite is reflected in blood stains during an Ashura ...

A man bleeds after wounding his head with a knife during the ...

Minority Shi'ites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia ...

Minority Shi'ites in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia ...

An Afghane elderly Shiite flagellates himself with knives during ...

A Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim prepares to cut a four-month-old ...

A Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim gashes a child's head with ...

A Lebanese Shi'ite Muslim child is covered in blood after ...

Oh, and death to the US!

Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters raise their hands as they ...

Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters raise their hands as they chant slogans against Israel and America during the Ashura ceremony held in Beirut's suburbs January 19, 2008. Tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslim Lebanese converged on Hezbollah's southern Beirut bastion on Saturday to mark the climax of Ashura religious ceremony, one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest events. Ashura, a 10-day-long event commemorates the death of the Prophet Mohammed's grandson Iman Hussein in battle 1,300 years ago.

.

This is what we fight to protect ourselves from, folks.  And we better win the fight.  Because if radical Islam makes good on its threat to take over the world and make it into a fundamental Islamic paradise, you'll be seeing a lot of what is in those pictures.  Right in your own neighborhood. 

Heck, they might even expect you to join in the festivities --- or else.

Remember that the next time you hear media darlings like george soros, medea benjamin, the now-near-anonymous cindy sheehan (hallelujah), the NY Times editorial board and various Hollywood LAMBs telling you it's not worth the fight.


EXCELLENT NEWS FROM IRAQ

Ken Berwitz

Here, from Reuters (which hasn't exactly cheerled the USA war effort) is another reason you have seen so little coverage of Iraq over the past 3 or 4 months:

U.S. says Iraq forces could control provinces this year

Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:28am EST

By David Morgan

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iraq's army and police could be ready to take over security in all 18 provinces by the end of this year as the U.S. military moves toward a less prominent role in the country, U.S. officials said on Thursday.

"We look at it every month. We make recommendations. I think that if we continue along the path we're on now, we'll be able to do that by the end of 2008," Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, the No. 2 commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, said when asked when Iraqi forces could take the lead in all provinces.

He said that a joint operation under way led by Iraqi troops and supported by U.S. troops against al Qaeda militants in the northern city of Mosul was a model for the future.

"That's how I see our role frankly in the future here," he told Pentagon reporters via videolink from Baghdad.

Iraqi security forces are now in control of nine provinces after assuming control of Iraqi's southern oil hub, Basra, in December. Iraqi forces are also expected to take control in Anbar province, a one-time insurgent stronghold, as early as March.

The ability of Iraqi forces to take the lead in security operations is vital to President George W. Bush's plan to withdraw 20,000 U.S. troops by the middle of this year.

The troops were sent to Iraq last year in a bid to quell sectarian violence in a war now in its sixth year. With U.S. troop levels up to about 155,000 now, violence levels have since dropped sharply.

"All the evidence available to me now suggests we will be able to complete the drawdown," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters separately.

"(It) remains my hope that the pace of the drawdowns in the second half of the year will be what it was in the first half of the year," he said.

Lt. Gen. James Dubik, commander of security transition in Iraq, told the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the number of Iraqi security forces, or ISF, could exceed 580,000 by the end of the year, up from the current 500,000.

But he also expressed caution about their abilities.

"Force structure and capability still lack a certain maturity. The ISF have not yet achieved self reliance in all area of logistics, maintenance and life support," he told the panel.

Odierno said he was confident the withdrawal of the five brigades will occur despite expectations for an upswing in insurgent attacks as militants respond to a new joint offensive known as Operation Phantom Phoenix.

The operation has killed or captured 92 "high-value individuals, according to the U.S. military.

"While we may see a short-term increase in violence in response to our operations in the weeks ahead, I expect Phantom Phoenix to contribute significantly to the population's security," Odierno said.

Gates' hopes for further reductions in U.S. forces this year will depend on a March assessment by the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.

"To predict now whether we can go lower or not is difficult and I would not want to make that prediction right now," Odierno said.

But Gates said the U.S. mission in Iraq has begun its planned transition to a more supportive role that would focus on border security and combating al Qaeda in Iraq. "That's ultimately where we are headed, and we have begun that process of transition," he said..

Now;  ask yourself why you have seen so little (if anything at all) about this on the network news or major daily newspapers - or, for that matter, in the increasingly irrelevant newsweeklies? 

If the news were as bad as this news is good, do you doubt for a moment that it would have been fully covered?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


WHAT IS THE MARGIN OF ERROR?

Ken Berwitz

You hear "margin of error" all the time when political polls are discussed, but no one ever explains to you what it is.

Until today. 

Here is a concise, excellent explanation, written by Pam Hunter - director of the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut's Stamford campus.

Margin of Error and Confidence Levels Made Simple

By Pam Hunter

A survey is a valuable assessment tool in which a sample is selected and information from the sample can then be generalized to a larger population. Surveying has been likened to taste-testing soup a few spoonfuls tell what the whole pot tastes like.

The key to the validity of any survey is randomness. Just as the soup must be stirred in order for the few spoonfuls to represent the whole pot, when sampling a population, the group must be stirred before respondents are selected. It is critical that respondents be chosen randomly so that the survey results can be generalized to the whole population.

How well the sample represents the population is gauged by two important statistics the survey's margin of error and confidence level. They tell us how well the spoonfuls represent the entire pot. For example, a survey may have a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence. These terms simply mean that if the survey were conducted 100 times, the data would be within a certain number of percentage points above or below the percentage reported in 95 of the 100 surveys.

In other words, Company X surveys customers and finds that 50 percent of the respondents say its customer service is "very good." The confidence level is cited as 95 percent plus or minus 3 percent. This information means that if the survey were conducted 100 times, the percentage who say service is "very good" will range between 47 and 53 percent most (95 percent) of the time.

 

Survey
Sample
Size

Margin
of Error
Percent*

2,000

 2

1,500 

 3

1,000

 3

  900 

 3

  800 

 3

  700 

 4

  600 

 4

  500 

 4

  400 

 5

  300 

 6

  200 

 7

  100 

10

   50 

14

 *Assumes
 a 95% level
 of confidence 

Sample Size and the Margin of Error

Margin of error the plus or minus 3 percentage points in the above example decreases as the sample size increases, but only to a point. A very small sample, such as 50 respondents, has about a 14 percent margin of error while a sample of 1,000 has a margin of error of 3 percent. The size of the population (the group being surveyed) does not matter. (This statement assumes that the population is larger than the sample.) There are, however, diminishing returns. By doubling the sample to 2,000, the margin of error only decreases from plus or minus 3 percent to plus or minus 2 percent. Although a 95 percent level of confidence is an industry standard, a 90 percent level may suffice in some instances. A 90 percent level can be obtained with a smaller sample, which usually translates into a less expensive survey. To obtain a 3 percent margin of error at a 90 percent level of confidence requires a sample size of about 750. For a 95 percent level of confidence, the sample size would be about 1,000.

Determining the margin of error at various levels of confidence is easy. Although the statistical calculation is relatively simple the most advanced math involved is square root margin of error can most easily be determined using the chart below. A few web sites also calculate the sample size needed to obtain a specific margin of error. Thus, if the researcher can only tolerate a margin of error of 3 percent, the calculator will say what the sample size should be. One such free site is http://www.azplansite.com/samplesize.htm. Among the best sites is http://www.raosoft.com/samplesize.html which allows researchers to compare the sample sizes needed with various levels of confidence similar to comparison shopping.

Calculating Margin of Error for Individual Questions

Margins of error typically are calculated for surveys overall but also should be calculated again when a subgroup of the sample is considered. Some surveys do not require every respondent to receive every question, and sometimes only certain demographic groups are analyzed. If only those who say customer service is "bad" or "very bad" are asked a follow-up question as to why, the margin of error for that follow-up question will increase because the number of respondents is smaller than the overall survey sample. Similarly, if results from only female respondents are analyzed, the margin of error will be higher, assuming females are a subgroup of the population.

Survey Data Is Imprecise

Margin of error reveals the imprecision inherent in survey data. Survey data provide a range, not a specific number. A researcher surveying customers every six months to understand whether customer service is improving may see the percentage of respondents who say it is "very good" go from 50 percent in one period to 47 percent in the next six-month period. Both are accurate because they fall within the margin of error. The decrease is not statistically significant. On the other hand, if those percentages go from 50 percent to 54 percent, the conclusion is that there is an increase in those who say service is "very good" albeit a small one.

The Dark Side of Confidence Levels

A 95 percent level of confidence means that 5 percent of the surveys will be off the wall with numbers that don't make much sense. Therefore, if 100 surveys are conducted using the same customer service question, five of them will provide results that are somewhat wacky. Normally researchers do not worry about this 5 percent because they are not repeating the same question over and over so the odds are that they will obtain results among the 95 percent. However, if the same question is asked repeatedly such as a tracking study, then researchers should beware that unexpected numbers that seem way out of line may come up. For example, customers are asked the same question about customer service every week over a period of months, and "very good" is selected each time by 50 percent, then 54 percent, 52 percent, 49 percent, 50 percent, and so on. If 20 percent surfaces in another period and a 48 percent follows in the next period, it is probably safe to assume the 20 percent is part of the "wacky" 5 percent, assuming proper methodology is followed..

Now you know.


FRED THOMPSON PUTS THE WOOD TO CNN

Ken Berwitz

You have to love Fred Thompson's candor and irreverence when it comes to media.  Here, courtesy of  www.newsbusters.org, is a great example of what I'm talking about:

Fred Thompson Challenges CNN's Campaign Coverage

By Brad Wilmouth | January 18, 2008 - 20:02 ET

During a live interview on Friday's American Morning, Fred Thompson lived up to his reputation as the GOP presidential candidate most willing to challenge the media, as the former Senator complained to CNN anchor John Roberts that the show used a clip of him joking about Fed Chair Ben Bernanke to make it appear Thompson was not interested in a stimulus package for the economy. Thompson: "You sit there and you take an hour's worth of tape, of course, and we have a little fun every once in a while, and sometimes you guys pick that out and have a little fun with it yourself..." When Roberts suggested he was being "dismissive" of a stimulus package, Thompson continued: "You know better than that. ... From time to time, things come up, and I poke fun at it... And you guys pick it out, you know, and leave it lying out there. We proceeded to talk about the economy and talk about a stimulus package, which I've been talking about for two or three days, but if this is your highlight event, it's your highlight event." (Transcript follows)

The interview, which seemed to suffer a bit from a satellite delay as Thompson was appearing from South Carolina, started on a note of levity as Roberts described the state's primary as a "moment of truth" for Thompson, and the former Senator quipped that "every moment is a moment of truth." Roberts showed a clip of Thompson at a campaign event joking about wanting to change the channel away from Bernanke's speech over to Law and Order because Bernanke's speech was "a little boring." Roberts set up the clip: "Just as you were speaking, Ben Bernanke was on the television screen behind you talking about his support for an economic stimulus package. Let's take a listen how that unfolded."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: And as we sit here, you know, we can take a look at the monitor, and Chairman Bernanke is talking right now. I would imagine you would probably say that the economy perhaps is the most important issue that's facing us?

THOMPSON: Yeah, that's right. But, you know, you could probably get a Law and Order rerun on TNT there if you really wanted to switch that around a little bit.

[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE FROM AUDIENCE]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Oh, I don't know if you want to do that. Chairman Bernanke's from South Carolina, so-

THOMPSON: Looks a little boring to me. I don't care-

Roberts continued: "I know, Senator Thompson, you were just joking a little bit there, but you did sound to be a little bit dismissive of the idea at least of an economic stimulus package."

Thompson responded: "No, John. You sit there and you take an hour's worth of tape, of course, and we have a little fun every once in a while. And sometimes you guys pick that out and have a little fun with it yourself, so that's fine. Now, you want to talk about the issue? We went ahead and talked about the issue in some de-"

Jumping back in, Roberts: "Yeah, well, that's what I'm saying. You seem to be dismissive of this idea of a package."

Thompson: "No, I was not being dismiss- You know better than that. We were having a little fun, a little humor. From time to time, things come up, and I poke fun at it, including at myself. And you guys pick it out, you know, and leave it lying out there. We proceeded to talk about the economy and talk about a stimulus package, which I've been talking about for two or three days, but if this is your highlight event, it's your highlight event. Would you like for me to talk about the stimulus package?"

When Roberts interjected that "the question I was trying to ask you, Senator, is you don't seem to have a lot of faith in a stimulus package," Thompson responded that "that's not totally accurate either," and that "I'm not sure what part of that, that you're talking about," before elaborating on what he wants in a stimulus package.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of Roberts's interview with Thompson from the Friday, January 18 American Morning on CNN:

JOHN ROBERTS: It could be the moment of truth for the Thompson campaign. He is banking on South Carolina and the Republican party faithful to rev up his campaign. He is expected to be in a fight for the evangelical vote with Mike Huckabee. Joining us now from Seneca, South Carolina, is former Senator Fred Thompson. Senator, good to see you. I want to start off this morning by playing a little excerpt from something that happened at a campaign event yesterday-

FRED THOMPSON, with crosstalk: By the way, every-

ROBERTS: Go ahead?

THOMPSON: Every moment, every moment is a moment of truth for the Thompson campaign.

ROBERTS, laughing: All right, well, we're glad to hear that. Well, let's play this particular moment of truth. Just as you were speaking, Ben Bernanke was on the television screen behind you talking about his support for an economic stimulus package. Let's take a listen how that unfolded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: And as we sit here, you know, we can take a look at the monitor, and Chairman Bernanke is talking right now. I would imagine you would probably say that the economy perhaps is the most important issue that's facing us?

THOMPSON: Yeah, that's right. But, you know, you could probably get a Law and Order rerun on TNT there if you really wanted to switch that around a little bit.

[LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE FROM AUDIENCE]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE: Oh, I don't know if you want to do that. Chairman Bernanke's from South Carolina, so-

THOMPSON: Looks a little boring to me. I don't care-

ROBERTS: I know, Senator Thompson, you were just joking a little bit there, but you did sound to be a little bit dismissive of the idea at least of an economic stimulus package.

THOMPSON: No, John. You sit there and you take an hour's worth of tape, of course, and we have a little fun every once in a while. And sometimes you guys pick that out and have a little fun with it yourself, so that's fine. Now, you want to talk about the issue? We went ahead and talked about the issue in some de-

ROBERTS, WITH CROSSTALK: Yeah, well, that's what I'm saying. You seem to be dismissive of this idea of a package.

THOMPSON: No, I was not being dismiss- You know better than that. We were having a little fun, a little humor. From time to time, things come up, and I poke fun at it, including at myself. And you guys pick it out, you know, and leave it lying out there. We proceeded to talk about the economy and talk about a stimulus package, which I've been talking about for two or three days, but if this is your highlight event, it's your highlight event. Would you like for me to talk about the stimulus package?

ROBERTS: No, no, no, no, no, the question I have for you, the question I was trying to ask you, Senator, is you don't seem to have a lot of faith in a stimulus package.

THOMPSON: Well, well, that's not totally accurate either. We've had extensive discussions over the last two or three days. I'm not sure what part of that, that you're talking about, but I can relate what I think about it and what it looks like to me. I've been talking about the fact that it's part of a bigger picture, that we need to make sure that we know what we're talking about before we rush in and increase the debt, that we should not load this package up like a Christmas tree, like we often do, that if we can target it to those who will put the money back into the economy, that is something we need to seriously consider. Now, I think that now the Bush administration, as I understand it, is considering a package of about $150 billion. There's not much detail to it yet. I would hope that it would be more in the form of tax rebates or fewer witholdings in terms of income taxes and put it more directly into the economy. I think that a child tax credit increase of about $500 for about a year would also do the trick. I think those are the things that you have to look at, but everybody on the Hill and everybody in Washington wants to rush willy nilly, you know, at some of these packages that will cost billions and billions of dollars. We need to make sure that we're targeting it in the right way.

Roberts turned the discussion to President Bush stimulus plan, and then to some of Mike Huckabee's remarks criticizing the candidates who have spent time in Washington..

Thompson is not scared of or cowed by these ego-driven, smiley-faced, often vacuous people.  Thompson may not have coiffed hair (or any hair at all, actually) and he doesn't have the most photogenic smiley-face.  But there is something INSIDE that head.

Don't you love it when he exposes them this way?

I can't see Fred Thompson becoming the Republican presidential nominee this year.  But he'd make one helluva VP selection to counterbalance a more liberal Republican (Rudy Giuliani for example).   That would be a ticket someone might vote for because they like it, as opposed to because they dislike the other guys worse.

Wouldn't that be a nice change?


Buy Our Book Here!


Return to Current Blog
We're Hopelessly Partisan

hopelesslypartisan.com, is a web site which is dedicated to honest, blunt, debate on the issues of our time.


About Us



Privacy Notice: In conjunction with the ads on this site, third parties may be placing and reading cookies on your browser, or using web beacons to collect information.


At “Hopelessly Partisan” we discuss all issues, big and small. In here, nothing is sacred and nothing is out of bounds.

So settle back, preferably after laughing your way through a copy of “The Hopelessly Partisan Guide To American Politics”, and let the battle begin. In this blog, your opinion counts every bit as much as anyone else's, maybe even more.

And to show that my willingness to provide all sides of the issues is sincere, here are links to a variety of web sites, from the left, the middle (more or less) and the right. Read them and either smile in agreement or gnash your teeth in anger!!