Washington Post poll

Responding Where The Left Goes Unchallenged

One of the great challenges of The Family Foundation is to be a voice of reason in a world where the media carries the message of the left without any challenge to its lack of logic. Within the past few days, I've encountered a number of these opportunities.

In an interview with a clearly biased reporter, which she indicated would be about abortion center safety standards, I was asked to respond to the 18 percent drop in the abortion rate over the last five years. Without more specific information, I respond that many common sense abortion laws had been passed in addition to the great work done in the area of foster care and adoption. But this response doesn't match the reporter’s narrative. The official narrative, her narrative, was that any drop in abortion must relate to contraception.

Basic knowledge of biology says that only a drop in the pregnancy rate, not the abortion rate, can be directly attributed to contraception. For simplicity sake, consider this example: Let's say 1,000 women got pregnant in 2007 and 25 women chose abortion, but in 2011, 1,000 women got pregnant and only 20 women chose abortion. In this example, the number of conceptions has not changed (still 1,000) and thus tying the decrease in abortion (25 to 20) to contraception is illogical. Rather, it means that five women made alternate choices from abortion regarding their pregnancies.

With this in mind, I found it interesting when the reporter next began to challenge me on contraception but never told me anything about the pregnancy rate or even the "unintended" pregnancy rate during the five year period.

What is known is that even the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the abortion industry, acknowledges:

In six [countries] — Cuba, Denmark, Netherlands, the United States, Singapore and the Republic of Korea — levels of abortion and contraceptive use rose simultaneously.

To get a more accurate picture of what is actually happening in Virginia, one would need the birth rate, abortion rate and the number of children given up for adoption over time. Without that, both sides of this debate can guess at a reporter's questions and the reporter can angle her story in whatever direction she chooses.

A second opportunity to be a voice of reason took place when I was asked to respond to a Washington Post poll of Virginia voters and their views on various social issues. Prior to the interview, I requested to see the poll. The response from the reporter was "I'm afraid we don't normally share the poll." Seriously? I'm supposed to listen to the reporter's summation of the results and draw conclusions based on her conclusions? Yes, that's their hope because the assumption is that like dumb sheep, the right can be led into a ditch. The reporter was obviously dismayed that I challenged nearly all of the poll's assumptions.

As an example of the problem opining without data causes, the reporter asked me if the Republican Party ought to change its position to attract more voters as a result of the alleged shift on same-sex marriage. This question required me to presume the rest of her poll that I had not seen. I mentioned that if this poll matched any other poll on this matter, then the reporter would know that minorities support traditional marriage. She seemed surprised that I would draw this distinction but fully acknowledged that my point was well taken, was supported by the details of the poll and that changing a position on same-sex marriage wasn't going to attract the minorities the Republican Party is desperate to reach. (Oh, and shockingly, no questions about the Kermit Gosnell trial or the nearly 300 health and safety violations in Virginia's abortion centers. Then again, why ask about what you refuse to report?)

This interview leads me to the final difficulty of trying to present reason in a world where narratives are predetermined. Two days ago, I received a call at home from Quinnipiac asking me to take a political survey. I readily agreed but discovered just what I feared. When asked my top issue for determining how I vote, I was given approximately 10 choices, none of which were values issues. Similarly, I was asked about the Star Scientific situation regarding both Governor Bob McDonnell and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli but was never asked about Terry McAuliffe's false claims regarding green technology and jobs. Zero questions about the abysmal conditions found in Virginia's abortion centers. Even funnier, I was asked if I consider myself "Born Again," "Evangelical" or "None of the above." I'd love to meet someone who is "Evangelical" but not "Born Again." When the questions are this biased and misinformed, it's hard, if not impossible, for a polling company to get a clear sense of the electorate.

But then again, if the purpose of the poll is to reinforce a predetermined narrative, the pollsters, nor the media, are interested in the sense of the electorate. They are trying to steer the electorate. Which is one reason why, despite not knowing all the details, I do these interviews. If there isn't a voice of reason included in the story, the media wins without a fight.

Virginians Support Same-Sex Marriage? Not So Fast . . .

The Sunday before Election Day 2006, a Richmond Times-Dispatch headline screamed that polling showed the Marriage Amendment campaign had tightened. The poll said that the amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman was supported by a slim 49-45 percent margin. That was the closest poll we had ever seen on the issue. Two days later, the amendment passed by a 14 point margin, 57-43 percent. How could the T-D poll have been so wrong just two days prior to the vote?

Polls taken over the years on the definition of marriage have wavered more than Tim Kaine on gay adoption (remember, running for governor in 2005 he opposed homosexual couples adopting, but now he's in favor of it). For example, Gallup polling on the issue of homosexual marriage went from 46 percent support in 2007, down to 40 percent in 2008 and 2009, but back up to 44 percent in 2010. So it doesn't surprise me at all that a Washington Post media poll of 1,000 people has found that, according to the Post, "Virginians are closely split on gay marriage" — and that the rest of the state's mainstream media ran with it.

But are they really?

The truth is that polls have been overwhelmingly disconnected from reality when it comes to the issue of homosexual marriage. One need look only as far as the 31 states that have had the issue put to the voters, and in every case the traditional definition of marriage has won, including California.

The longer I am involved in politics, the more dismissive I have become of most media polling. Many experts believe that, particularly on the issues of abortion and homosexuality, a lot of people tell a pollster what they think the pollster wants to hear. On the issue of same-sex marriage, while a few media polls indicate that people support it, in the 31 states where it has gone to the ballot the people have overwhelmingly rejected it. One might tell their neighbor they are open to homosexual marriage, but when the reality is in front of them in the voting booth, traditional marriage still resonates instinctively, intuitively, justly . . . morally.

Social issues such as abortion and homosexuality have dynamics at play that I don't think can be measured with simple media polling. Asking 1,000 people a simple question doesn't generally get to the core of complex issues. It makes for interesting editorial page fodder, but I doubt too many people take it seriously, except for the so-called "progressives" who will no doubt champion the media poll and bring the issue before the next General Assembly. I suspect some will even attempt to make it a campaign issue (funny, I thought it was all about the economy).

But I also find it interesting that the same "progressives" reject professional (not media) polling that shows an overwhelming number of Virginians support school choice. You see, polling can work both ways, which is why no one should base their beliefs or agenda on it. Sure, professionally done, in depth issue polling can provide insight, but hastily done media polls done over a weekend for the mainstream media isn't something I want to base any policy decision on. I certainly wouldn't want to base the future of our children on it.

Virginia News Stand: April 28, 2010

Annotations & Elucidations Cultural Conservatism's Comeback (Or Was It Ever Really Dead?)

Who said cultural conservatism is dead? In Virginia last week, there was bipartisan support to end taxpayer funding of elective abortion and within the last 24 hours two major blows for traditional values — and constitutional law — occurred. Yesterday, the Oklahoma Senate joined with the House there in a bipartisan vote to override Democrat Governor Brad Henry's veto of an informed consent bill which would requires women seeking abortions to see an ultrasound of her baby and receive certain information, not terribly different than a bill we have advocated for in the General Assembly the last several years. (There is always hope!) Then, earlier today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a memorial Cross on federal land in the Mojave Desert can stay, reversing a lower court ruling.

But was cultural conservatism dead? Hard to believe that when each state that has voted on a Marriage Amendment has passed it. The truth is that there are certain truths in life and embedded in the constitution. Only when they are purposefully misinterpreted and laws misapplied to achieve agenda goals are they ever defeated. But defeat is not death. Values endure. We've seen that in the last 24 hours.

News

Gov discusses Confederacy, felons' rights, condoms (The Daily Press)

Va. ponies up millions to add Northrop (Washington Examiner)

Albemarle tea party crashes Fifth District chairman’s endorsement (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Audio

Ask The Governor (39:56) (WTOP/WTOP.com)

National News

Strict Abortion Measures Enacted in Oklahoma (New York Times)

States seek new ways to restrict abortions (USA Today)

High court supports Mojave cross in Calif. (AP/FoxNews.com)

High Court Says Mojave Desert Cross Can Remain (Wall Street Journal)

Sounding alarm on gonorrhea (Washington Times)

Poll finds Americans in an anti-incumbent mood as midterm elections near (Washington Post)

Reid: Senate to act on climate before immigration (AP/GOPUSA.com)

GOP eyes comeback for New England House seats (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Not us: Goldman execs deny wrongdoing in crisis (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama continues to hammer AZ immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

AG: Court challenge possible on immigration law (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Analysis

How Arizona became center of immigration debate (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary

How Mexico Treats Illegal Aliens (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Trying To Make People Like Us (Harris Sherline/GOPUSA.com)

Arizona's 21-Bottle Salute (Brent Bozell/GOPUSA.com)

The Return of 'Social Utility' (Tony Blankley/GOPUSA.com)

Virginia News Stand: October 8, 2009

Annotations & Elucidations  The Late And Washington Post Poll Edition

The big news was from the Washington Post this afternoon, when it releases its latest poll showing all three Republicans — Bob McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Senator Ken Cuccinelli — leading their respective races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general by nine points. The other big news today concerning the statewide races is that Cuccinelli's opponent for attorney general, Democrat Delegate Steve Shannon, tried to emulate his gubernatorial ticket mate Creigh Deeds in question dodging (see Tertium Quids below). Who does it better? You watch. You decide.

Other than that, the debt is at third world levels, the CBO says BaucusCare is nearly as expensive, the Supreme Court hears a religious liberty case, and a more ineffective "jobs programs" is on its way. The good news is that we have some superior insights from Larry Kudlow, Michelle Malkin, Bobby Eberle, Michael Barone and Lisa Fabrizio on ObamaCare, his Olympic flame-out and political weakness, and how to create real and plenty jobs.  

News:

McDonnell Widens Lead in Virginia Governor's Race (Washington Post)

WaPo Poll: McDonnell, Bolling, Cuccinelli all +9 (Tertium Quids Blog)

Explicit 'Banned Book' Infuriates Virginia Father, Leads to School Review (FoxNews.com)

Democrats beg Deeds for positive message (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot)

Democrats vowing to hold strong in fight for governor (Northern Virginia Daily)

Deeds avoids Obama, embraces Warner (Washington Times)

Videos Highlight Dueling Images (Washington Post)

Meanwhile, at the AG Debate . . . (Tertium Quids Blog)

Delegates candidates speak at Henrico forum (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Contrasting Candidates Enter Final Month In Race For House Of Delegates (Harrisonburg Daily News-Record)

Hurt will seek GOP nomination to challenge Perriello (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

National News:

Sharp debate at high court over cross on US land (AP/GOPUSA.com)

CBO: Budget deficit triples to record $1.4T in 2009 (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Health bill would cost $829B, cover 94 percent (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Bill increases spending on food stamps, nutrition (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Lawmaker: Cost of presidential copter tripled (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Obama huddles with Democratic leaders over jobs (AP/GOPUSA.com)

Commentary:

The Mundell-Laffer Solution (Larry Kudlow/GOPUSA.com)

Weak Himself, Obama Draws Strength From Bush (Michael Barone/GOPUSA.com)

O-lympics (Lisa Fabrizio/GOPUSA.com)

Couldn't the 'Men in White Coats' Just Take Obama Away? (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Spin Doctors For Obamacare (Michelle Malkin/GOPUSA.com)

Obama's 'No I in Team Syndrome (Bobby Eberle/GOPUSA.com)

Recent Polls

Two polls on Virginia's statewide campaigns were released within the last 48 hours: one, by the Democrat leaning polling firm, Public Policy Polling, and one by SurveyUSA for Roanoke television station WDBJ-TV. It is interesting to note that the PPP poll has received exponential media coverage, lasting well into the second day after it was released. The SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll was released last night but is hardly causing a blip on the Mainstream Media's radar screen. The most likely explanation is that the SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll seems out of whack when compared to other polls. While many have the governor's race in a four to seven point range, in favor of Republican Bob McDonnell, the SurveyUSA/WDBJ poll shows him up by double digits, as it does his running mates Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, running for re-election, and Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax), running for attorney general. Still, that's never stopped the notoriously out of proportion Washington Post polls from getting top billing across the state. 

In what has gone practically unmentioned in the frenzy of the tightening of PPP's poll, however, is that it also shows Lt. Governor Bolling and Senator Cuccinelli leading by eight and nine points, respectively. So, we have a Mainstream Media cherry picking news even from the one poll on which it has focused. Not only that, but by its own admission, the PPP poll's "internals" do not show bad news for McDonnell. Among the fndings (see PPP Blog here):

52% of voters say they're very familiar with the thesis and McDonnell actually has a 55-41 {lead} with that group, reflecting the fact that Republicans are more engaged this year and following the campaign more closely. Deeds is up 56-41 with the 29% of voters who claim moderate knowledge of the thesis.

(Does this mean conservative voters are more informed, or just that they don't watch MSNBC?)

In another blog post,PPP's Tom Jensen writes that Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds leads among voters who were undecided a month ago by 35-32 percent, and lists this as an advantage for him. But it's within the margin of error and not enough to close the gap.

Back to SurveyUSA. Here's a link to its methodology and complete statistical breakdown. It survey 1,000 Virginians, 886 of them registered to vote, and filtered its responses to the 631 of them determined to be likely voters this November.