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Polling Palin: A True Unknown In Alaska

Posted by traceyporreca on February 11, 2011

I read the article below titled “Polling Palin: The Unknown Unknown” and it made me think about why I started this blog (Alaskans4Palin)in the first place. I was asked by someone outside Alaska why it was that so many people in Alaska did not approve of Sarah Palin. I’ve heard this argument before, but was surprised to hear it from this particular individual as he was a Palin supporter and surely (I thought) he would know the truth. It was in the conversation that followed that I realized even those outside Alaska who support her, really believe we Alaskans, don’t. Why is that? Well, it has to boil down to two things: The media, and the polls.

Most conservatives are aware of the term “Lamestream Media” (LSM) and it has become synonymous with the vicious attacks by the media on Sarah Palin. Yet, it is these same outlets that feed the misinformation conservatives are hearing regarding Sarah Palin’s Alaska supporters. Don’t believe it! We have 3 mainstream papers up here – that’s it. They’re all left leaning publications. We have Associated Press, Reuters and other national and international representatives here, but again, they tend to lean left. And who do you think feeds all the misinformation to those outlets outside Alaska? These very organizations. That is who is creating and giving the false message that Alaskans just don’t support Sarah anymore. I won’t give you examples of this because you all have your own left leaning, propaganda spewing local newspapers to verify my account. Besides, the article below gives a great explanation of how the media is culpable in the misinformation that guides many poll responder’s decisions.

So, let us look at polling and break it down into two parts: Polling in Alaska, and polling regarding Sarah Palin. Polling in Alaska is notoriously difficult. An article in the New York Times discusses general difficulties with polling in today’s modern age, which are compounded in Alaska by the challenges of polling in a geographically, culturally, and technologically diverse state. The state is 1/5 the size of the entire lower 48 states, and yet has the smallest population. Culturally widely diverse and technologically challenged in many ways, this state does not lend itself to the typical polling methods. New York Times’ “The Uncanny Accuracy of Polling Averages Part IV: Are the Polls Getting Worse?” breaks the difficulties down into five critical areas:

1. Response rates to all types of polls are decreasing, as Americans become more aggressive about screening their phone calls.
2. Many young Americans — and an increasing number of older Americans — rely primarily or entirely on their mobile phones, which many pollsters do not call.
3. The proliferation of “robopoll” firms like SurveyUSA and Rasmussen Reports may in and of itself be a problem, or may exacerbate the other problems.
4. An increasing number of voters are most comfortable speaking a language other than English, and are unlikely to complete surveys unless the interviewers are trained in their native tongue.
5. Internet polling has yet to really mature.

All of these arguments are exacerbated in Alaska. Everyone screens their calls – don’t you? Many in urban Alaska already use cell phones. As technology advances, many rural Alaska villages are seeing residents whose first phone ever is a cell phone – there is no regular phone service in many of these places, at least not in individual homes. I’ve participated in a robopoll and even though I am very active in politics, I wanted to hang up on this thing 2 minutes after it started, as I’m sure many do. Alaska is very very diverse in both language and ethnicity. The Anchorage School District, for example, has students who speak 60+ different languages. Often their parents speak no English and rely on these young children to translate for them. I doubt seriously this would include a political telephone poll. And finally, the internet. I write this to you from a satellite link internet service because there is no internet in most of Alaska, and it is horribly slow and intermittent so even if internet polling does mature, I will probably get “timed out” before I can complete the questionnaire.

So, that leads me back full circle to the article on polling that brought about this post. We have established that polling in Alaska is fraught with difficulty, so let’s talk about polling in regard to Sarah Palin. “Polling Palin: The Unknown Unknown” is very good, and speaks for iteself. Here is an excerpt:

“The most difficult polls to read into this early are those associated with Sarah Palin. While supporters will claim bias in polls, non-supporters will be overly-excited about the supposed dislike of Sarah Palin.

The key thing to remember about polling is information changes minds quickly. Reality is, of all potential candidates for 2012, Palin has the greatest opportunity to greatly improve her standings, especially given that expectations for her have been set so low.

Sarah Palin is what I like to call “An Unknown Known.” While everyone knows who she is, opinions of her are mostly derived from media accounts of her, rather than by her own actions and words. If you poll 1,000 people about Sarah Palin, you have a built in percentage who follow her closely and like her, you have a percentage who may or may not follow her closely and loathe her, and then you have “the 70%” the vast majority of people polled will be those who pay attention to politics 2 weeks a year and all other information comes from soundbites and brief media reports, not by a regular interest in politics (non political junkies).

The 70%: Most people polled about politics are not politically active or interested. When their information is derived from the media and soundbites, their opinion is skewed by the media. Most media reports about Palin reflect a common theme that she is “divisive” and “controversial” and “fringe” and “unelectable.” Therefore, the end result is that is what people know about Sarah Palin, and it negatively effects polling outcomes. This is not to say that the polls are inaccurate when they show Palin with low favor-ability and election poll numbers. Indeed, they are accurate because it takes a snapshot of the public’s perception at that time (even if that perception is crafted by the media). But that is what creates the opening for people to change their minds about her.

While I will discuss polling data on Sarah Palin on this site, it should be noted that she will likely have the biggest upside in long-term polling data, should she run for President in 2012. Where she currently sits poll-wise should be considered the bottom. People who like her or support her now (with all the negative media reports out there) are unlikely to be deterred. The question is, how moved people are when (and if) they see Palin run and actually see her…”

So folks, what else can I say. If you hear that Alaskans don’t support Sarah Palin, don’t believe it. It is as manufactured as the rest of the lies they “report” about her. She has a great deal of support from those who know her best – Alaskans.

To read the rest of the New York Times polling article, please follow this link.

As posted on Alaskans4Palin

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