Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Hannity Fails Polling 101

Jed Lewison at Daily Kos correctly mocks dullard Sean Hannity for either his ignorance or his demagoguery in his silly attack on a recent poll that didn’t agree with his views. The Washington Post recently had a poll that showed 57% public support for a public option as part of health care reform. Is that poll accurate? I have no idea.

This is the kind of subject where subtle changes of phrasing could very well lead to dramatically different results. And there have been lots of other polls that have shown much lower levels of support. Those are questions best answered by a good analyst like Nate silver. But it certainly is not inaccurate for the reason Hannity claimed:

With the exception of Fox News, the other networks, they’re receiving gold stars on their White House report cards, and the latest case in point is the Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows that 57% of Americans support a government health care takeover and only 40% oppose it.

Now a closer look at that poll explains why. Now get this: They polled 13% more Democrats than Republicans. Now that explains a few things.

Yes, it explains that the demographic weighting in terms of party identification was done correctly. About 13% more Americans consider themselves Democrats vs those who identify as Republicans. If they didn’t weight the test group accordingly they would be violating one of the basic rules of polling and assuring that the results were inaccurate.

Those numbers change over time, of course. 3 years from now, the numbers on party identification may be much closer than they are now (in fact, I’d bet that they will be). And pollsters are constantly reevaluating their demographic weighting assumptions in light of the most recent data. But as of right now, that poll was done correctly. Hannity is either too dense to know it or too dishonest to admit it.