As I have distanced myself from politics over the years, I likewise am probably years if not decades behind on polling. That said, it looks like there’s some interesting developments in polling on Amendment E (J.A.I.L.).
I heard over the weekend that within the last 10-14 days, three separate polls — one by the No on E committee and the others by groups independent from it — show the “No” vote has a 10 point lead over the J.A.I.L. proponents. While I have not seen any actual results and evidently a large number remain “undecided,” I speculate this change reflects that voters are paying more attention as the election nears. Certainly, the undecided will move significantly between now and the election. More important, if accurate, these results indicate voters are learning the J.A.I.L. campaign is built upon the lie that the amendment would apply only to the judiciary.
How does this jibe with the Zogby poll South Dakota J.A.I.L.er-in-chief Bill Stegmeier commissioned? A recent Watertown Public Opinion article not only confirms questions about the poll’s applicability, it may reveal the poll’s true purpose.
The Public Opinion is the only media outlet of which I am aware that actually took the time to look behind Stegmeier’s poll, which he claimed showed a 3-to-1 margin in favor of Amendment E. Jennifer Carstensen, a reporter at the paper, interviewed someone from the Zogby polling organization. Fritz Wenzel, Zogby’s director of communication, admitted the poll was what is known as “message polling.”
According to Carstensen’s article,
This particular polling questions (sic) was not meant to test the amendment as it would appear on the ballot, Wenzel said, but rather to test the message that Stegmeier wanted to examine related to the issue.* * *
The question represents Stegmeier’s interpretation of the amendment, he said, and the way that Zogby officials summarized the amendment.
“That’s why we asked the question they way we asked it. We simply wanted to test a message for the client, and that’s what we did,” Wenzel said.
Wenzel also told her that “based on the question that we’ve asked,” Zogby thinks the responses are accurate. As the Public Opinion said in an editorial, responses to the question “do you love motherhood and apple pie” would also produce accurate results that are about as valid on the J.A.I.L. issue as the question it asked. Basically, the poll simply told Stegmeier and crew that they need to keep pushing the lie that the proposal applies only to the judiciary.
Stegmeier also seemed to confirm this was a “push poll.” He told the paper, “The whole idea is that you need to persuade the majority of people to vote the way you want them to vote.” Thus, trying to persuade — by using a misleading statement — was the goal, not a true assessment of voter attitudes.
But Stegmeier may have revealed the ultimate purpose of the poll, telling Carstensen that
you want to have something in case the vote turns out to be quite a bit different [from the poll results]. You might need to request an investigation or a recount. So if you don’t have anything to compare the final vote to, you’ll never get anywhere if you want to dispute the vote.
Can you see the handwriting on the wall? If and when Amendment E is defeated, Stegmeier and crew will point to this biased push poll and claim it shows there was election fraud or some such rot. If adverse to J.A.I.L., the J.A.I.L.ers won’t say the election reflects the expression of “we the people,” the phrase they always bandy about. Instead, the election will be another of those government/New World Order conspiracies Stegmeier and his friends see everywhere. Not only does this mindset indicate the paranoia is showing already, it may say more about the results of any unbiased questions Stegmeier had Zogby or other polling organizations ask.
Anyone with a beef can start a conspiracy theory.
British sociology professor Frank Furedi,
quoted in Time Magazine, Jan. 23, 2006