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March 02, 2006

Zogby Troop Poll: An Odd Correction

I made a minor correction to yesterday's post on the Zogby poll of troops in Iraq that I want to note for regular readers and explain in more detail.

First, the sponsor that funded Zogby's poll was not Le Moyne University but, according to a story in yesterday's Syracuse Post Standard, "a wealthy war opponent who [Zogby] would not name."  In our conversation, Zogby said that an "anti-war" sponsor paid for the survey but played no role in conducting interviews or gathering the data.  I wrongly assumed he meant the the Center for Peace and Global Security at Le Moyne University, which did collaborate with Zogby on the survey.  As far as I can determine, the Center is a non-partisan academic institution that takes no official position on the Iraq war (although one conservative blogger sees partisan leanings) and did not provide funding for the Zogby survey.

[Thanks to alert MP reader Bob who flagged the error and noted the Post-Standard article in the comments section yesterday].

What is less clear is the role that the Le Moyne University professors played in the design of the survey.  The Post Standard reporters, who interviewed both Zogby and Le Moyne Political Science Professor Barron Boyd reported the following: 

Le Moyne faculty helped develop and word the poll's questions, which were given to troops in face-to-face interviews in Iraq, pollster John Zogby, of New Hartford, said.

When I emailed Zogby for clarification, I got the following reply from Zogby Director of Communications Fritz Wenzel:

Wanted to clarify a point with you about our survey of U.S. troops serving in Iraq. The survey instrument was developed by Zogby International with no input from Le Moyne College. After it was developed, it was reviewed and approved by Le Moyne. Wanted to make sure you understood that Zogby International developed the survey.

He later attributed the obvious conflict between this account and the one in the Post Standard to "a small miscommunication over script development." 

So let's shift from the facts (as corrected) to MP's opinion.  The difference between "developing" a questionnaire and reviewing and approving it is largely semantic.  I have no doubt that Zogby International did most of the work in drafting the questionnaire, but I'm not sure what significance there is to having "no input" into a first draft.   It's the final draft that matters.  In my experience -- and I have "developed" hundreds of questionnaires over the years -- anyone with the right to request changes and approve a final questionnaire is an integral part of the development process. 

Second, there's another word we typically use to describe someone with the right to approve the final questionnaire:  "Client."  Put another way, it is a little bit unusual for a pollster to grant the right of questionnaire approval to someone not paying for the survey. The Center for Peace and Global Security may not be a funder in this case, but they do seem to have the role of client.

Speaking of paying clients, I need to attend to some of my own.  But I should have more on this subject later tonight.

PS:  A few more details from the Post Standard story worth noting: 

Zogby's company, Zogby International, hired Beirut-based Information International, which in turn hired poll-takers and field workers who surveyed the troops in person, Zogby said.

He said they got an 85 percent response rate, nearly three times the typical 30 percent response rate he said he receives for telephone polls conducted in the United States...

Of the respondents, 41 percent were in the regular Army, 25 percent were Marines, 17 percent were National Guard and 16 percent were Reserves. Forty-four percent said they were serving their second tour in Iraq, and about the same number said they had spent six to 12 months in Iraq.

Related Entries - Polls in the News

Posted by Mark Blumenthal on March 2, 2006 at 03:32 PM in Polls in the News | Permalink

Comments

clean, straight, true. YOUR analysis. It's a new age with bloggers like you. Thank goodness

Posted by: carol | Mar 2, 2006 3:47:32 PM

Yes, thanks Mark.

I'm not sure how one CAN determine truth or falsehood on this 'poll' given the dearth of information Zogby has released.

Zog has a track record of using unusual methods to weight his reported results. Sometimes it works, other times he fails - spectacularly!

The most controversial question seems to have been how long to remain in Iraq. The results make some sense if you assume that the troops are war-weary. How could they not be by now? I'm sure if anyone did a survey of the US garrison in Germany in 1945 you would have learned that most of them wanted to come home. And that ws a place which wasn't as dangerous as Iraq is now - and with the full support of domestic opinion in the US.

Posted by: Don | Mar 3, 2006 6:14:02 AM

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