American Politics: Another Poll Being MisReported, MisUsed, and Abused - The Iran Nuclear Deal [266*4]

What the CNN/ORC POLL Said About the Iran Nuclear Deal

I REPORTED IN A PREVIOUS HUB REGARDING HOW THE POLLS ON OBAMACARE were misused and abused by the press and Conservatives. Well, I can report the same thing about the bold headlines, which "seems" to say 52% of Americans think the Iran Nuclear deal America, and five other countries, struck up with Iran to stop Iran's development of a nuclear capability is a terrible. Of course, on the surface it does say this ... at the top level of the survey; but, underneath the surface an entirely different story emerges.

A little bit of background. When someone conducts a poll, the pollsters generally must assume the people answering the questions are giving their most considered opinion, arrived at by a modicum of internal analysis of facts gathered from a variety of sources. (Although some surveys can actually correct for shaky answers.) Does this ability to give an issue the benefit of well thought out analysis, describe today's electorate? From what I have observed for the last 30 years or so, It does not. If many people really don't rely on reason a whole lot to arrive at their opinions is true, then can you trust the results?

Well. reality is that the more a person buys into the extreme end of either political spectrum, the less they rely on facts and multiple sources to form an opinion; while not constituting a majority of Americans, the number is not insignificant by a long-shot. Conversely, as one tacts toward the political center, the more reliable their answers become as to having a sound basis for them. So, how does this help us? It helps by taking this knowledge into account interpreting the poll results in light of this knowledge.

What Does The CNN/ORC Poll REALLY Say About How Americans Feel?

TO REPEAT, THE HEADLINES SAY 52% OF AMERICANS FEEL THE NUCLEAR DEAL which Secretary of State John Kerry struck with the Iranians to shut down their on-going nuclear program. Further, it says that 44% of those polled Agree with the pact and 5% aren't really sure one way of the other (probably the most correct opinion, given the current state of, or lack thereof, knowledge about the deal).

The next level of detail that the poll fortunately provides us is how that vote broke down by different demographics such as political party, ideology, income, education, etc. In the tables below, I offer these results followed by commentary about each.

Some Interesting, But Not The Most Important Poll Results

ANSWER
MALE
FEMALE
GENDER
 
 
Approve
46%
42%
Disapprove
50%
53%
No Opinion
4%
5%
TABLE 1 - GENDER

This surprised me somewhat. What this deal is supposed to provide is the feeling of security (including to Israel) and that the world stress-level will go down. In my opinion, women seem to 1) be a little more trusting and 2) gravitate toward those things that feel safe. Consequently, I would have guessed the male/female numbers would be reversed ... clearly my gut is wrong on this one.

RACE & OTHER
WHITE
NON-WHITE
REGISTERED TO VOTE
WHITE EVANGELICAL
Approve
40%
51%
44%
27%
Disapprove
54%
47%
51%
68%
No Opinion
6%
2%
5%
5%
TABLE 2 - RACE, REGISTRATION, & RACE-RELIGION

Not unsurprisingly, White Evangelical's, who constitute the backbone of the Conservative movement and opposition to President Obama, are the most opposed to any accomplishment, including this one, by the President. For a supposedly peace-loving, turn-the-other-cheek religious faith to stand in opposition to a non-violent, albeit potentially temporary in the long-term, package to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear capability is very contradictory.

Likewise, Whites, for what are obvious reasons to me, also oppose President Obama more than they do support him. Consequently, it seems reasonable they would also oppose the results of Obama's negotiators simply because Obama supports it. Clearly, it is a small portion, maybe 10 - 20%, that are hard core anti-Obama types who will oppose whatever he is for. The rest, it is my guess, who oppose this pact with Iran do so because they simply don't think it is a good idea.

AGE
18 - 34
35 - 49
50 - 64
65+
Approve
53%
43%
42%
34%
Disapprove
41%
51%
55%
63%
No Opinion
6%
6%
3%
3%
TABLE 3 - AGE

Here, we see our first real divergence between cohorts of Americans. Consider how different the Millennials and Gen-X aged people are from the rest of the crowd. Why is that? One possibility is they are less interested in partisan politics and care about the issues. Generally, they are better educated than the last two age groups, and you will see in a minute, that distinction is important. Also, from what I have read, Millennials and Gen-Xers are oriented to the Left, although it does seem they aren't all that motivated to vote.

EDUCATION & INCOME
NO COLLEGE
ATTENDED COLLEGE
UNDER $50K
OVER $50K
Approve
37%
49%
43%
48%
Disapprove
61%
45%
54%
47%
No Opinion
2%
6%
7%
5%
TABLE 4 - EDUCATION and INCOME

Once more we see differences appearing between the two education and income cohorts. We see that the more education a person has, the more likely they are to think the Iran Nuclear package is a good idea. This, of course, goes to my theory that the more a person analyzes an issue, the more likely they are to give a personal answer as opposed to a learned response.

There is less of a difference when considering those who make less than and more than the median income. To me, the same dynamics are at work because those making more money often are people who are more likely to read, listen, and think for themselves than those who are struggling just to live a nice life.

In both of these cases, I am not suggesting that if people have more education or higher income are prone they are prone to see the deal in a favorable light or not. I am just saying that when asked a question, they are more likely to give a reasoned answer.

The Real Interesting Table - Political and Ideological Persuasion

PARTY and IDEOLOGY
DEMOCRATIC
INDEPENDENT
REPUBLICAN
LIBERAL
MODERATE
CONSERVATIVE
Approve
61%
40%
31%
64%
47%
28%
Disapprove
36%
55%
66%
33%
48%
67%
No Opinion
3%
5%
3%
3%
5%
5%
TABLE 5 - PARTY and IDEOLOGY

THIS IS THE REAL STORY!! THE TAKEAWAY HERE is that, as expected, Democrats/Liberals strongly support the deal and Republican/Conservatives strongly oppose it. Independents, who tend to lean Right more than they do Left, are more likely to disapprove. But Moderates, who by definition, are near the middle are basically split on whether they approve or not.

So, what is pushing the disapproval over the edge? To me, it looks like 1) the independents are biased to the Right and are listening to their messaging, 2) there are more conservative Democrats than there are liberal Republicans, and 3) there are about twice as many far-Right Conservatives who parrot their Party tune, than there are far-Left Liberals who do the same. Likewise, it appears there are more Right-leaning Independents who accept bumper stickers and sound-bites as their information source than there are Left-leaning Independents.who do the same.

The bottom line of all of this is that there are fewer people on the Right (weighted by those without college degrees and less than $50K in income) who think for themselves than there are on the Left (weighted toward college degrees and higher income). Consequently, when you factor out those who answer the Party lines, you end up with a core group that favor the Iran Nuclear pact, rather than oppose it.

Ideological Breakdown By Party

 
DEMOCRATS
INDEPENDENTS
REPUBLICANS
 
LIBERAL
12%
8%
2%
22%
MODERATE
13%
18%
6%
37%
CONSERVATIVE
6%
11%
17%
34%
 
31%
37%
25%
93% (7% Undecided)
TABLE 6 - PEW RESEARCH

This is an interesting table in that it shows you what percentage of the respondents were Liberal Democrats (12%), Liberal Republicans (2%), or Conservative Democrats (6%), for example. Here are a few take-aways:

  1. While 31% of respondents were Democrats, only 22% considered themselves Liberal.
  2. On the other hand, 25% of those question identified with the Republican Party, 34% thought of themselves as Conservative.
  3. As I mentioned earlier, those that identify as Independents lean toward the political Right (11%) vs the political Left (8%)
  4. Finally, this data suggests that Liberals are in the minority in America today.

So, What Is The Surprise I Mentioned?

AT THE TOP, I ASSERTED THE FOLLOWING - "... but underneath an entirely different story emerges." ... meaning the headline that 52% of Americans disapprove of Obama-Kerry Iran Nuclear Deal is misleading and does not represent what America really are thinking at the time the poll was taken. Now, as I do with most of my Hubs, I conduct my analysis as I write the Hub. As a consequence, I sometimes get surprised by the answer I come up with. I must say, however, I have only had to change my mind once and discuss the opposite of what I thought was correct analysis; which I duly reported.

A couple of other times I had to modify, but not really change my main thesis. The Gun series is an example where I had bought into the Hub the belief by both the Right and the Left that the rate of gun ownership effects violent crime - the Right says it reduces it and the Left says it increases it - yet my analysis resulted in there being very little relationship. Fortunately, that wasn't my main point, which stayed the same.

When I started this Hub, my gut said that when you dig beneath the poll numbers and add reality regarding how people answer poll question, I thought (maybe hoped) the results would reverse the outcome with more "thoughtful" people thinking the Deal ought to be approved ... no cigar, but I got close.

With much math, like solving three equations with three unknowns, I was able to discover the following: there is no statistical difference between those who favor (45%) and those who oppose (48%) the Agreement. The actual, reported results were a very much different, statistically significant 52% - 44%.

So, how did I accomplish this miracle? It all has to do with what I tried to explain earlier - that people will answer questions like these based on one or two things. thoughtful consideration or listening to sound bites and talking-heads or reading bumper stickers. I pointed out the more you slide to one extreme or the other, the more likely you are to spout, and answer, to the Party line.

What I did then was make a gross assumption, which I believe is reasonably close to the truth, that if I throw out liberal-Democratic and conservative-Republican responses, on the theory that these respondents haven't thought a whole lot about the issue, then the remaining answers represent a considered opinion. When I did this, I got the above results that, in my opinion, much more fairly represent what Americans really think about this issue; 45% in favor, 48% opposed, and 7% unsure.

AND. YOUR OPINION IS?

Do YOU Think The Agreement Reached Between The Five Allies + 1 With the Iranians to Halt Their Nuclear Program is Good for the World?

  • YES
  • NO
  • NOT SURE YET
See results without voting

IF YOU Answered 'YES' to the Above Question, Do You Think ....

  • It will be successful in halting the Iranian Nuclear Program for more than 20 years, if not forever?
  • It will be successful in halting the Iranian Nuclear Program for at least 10 years?
  • It will be successful in halting the Iranian Nuclear Program for at least 5 years?
  • Stopping it even in the short-term is a good thing.
  • Not Sure
See results without voting

DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY #1

Politically Speaking, Do You Think You Agree With The ...

  • Right, more than the Left
  • Left, more than the Right
  • More or Less Evenly Split, based on the Issue
  • Something Else
See results without voting

DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEY #2

Are You

  • Male?
  • Female?
See results without voting

BUY A BOOK FROM AMAZON

© 2015 My Esoteric

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17 comments

RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 14 months ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

For me the only relevant question is whether this deal is better or worse than any attainable alternative. Opponents never seem to talk about what alternative they propose, but focus entirely on what they consider drawbacks to the deal. And that's mostly what people have been hearing. I seriously doubt that most of those who responded to the polls have thought through what happens next if this deal is rejected. If confronted with opponents' inability to articulate an attainable alternative short of war, I think most Americans would be far more positive toward the present deal.


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 14 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia

"reality is that the more a person buys into the extreme end of either political spectrum, the less they rely on facts and multiple sources to form an opinion"

Truer words were never written, and folks who fall into those categories need to hear this more often. Hopefully, they will reconsider being a rubber stamp for the group they identify with and determine to think for themselves. It takes more effort than just being a member of a group, but it produces a more intelligent population of individuals.

Thank you for all the work that went into this hub. I hope it gets the readership it deserves for the effort.


Larry Rankin profile image

Larry Rankin 14 months ago from Oklahoma

I find the concept that statistical information could be used deceptively impossible to believe (he said sarcastically).

Always eyeopening stuff. Another fascinating hub.


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 14 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Polls........Isn't that the process by which the powers that be and the less-than-honest-media, go through the motions of pretending they actually GIVE A RAT'S ASS what the public thinks about anything???


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 14 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks for reading the "numbers" piece and trying to make head-or-tails of it, as well as providing your thoughts. You couldn't be more right, RonElFran regarding not addressing alternatives. The amazing thing about high-scoring Right-wing Authoritarian followers (which applies to the Left as well) is the degree to which they they truly believe they are thinking for themselves when, in reality, they are simply parroting their social domineering oriented leaders.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 14 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thank you both for reading and sharing.

Larry, clearly polls can and often are misused to make political points. It is up to the thinking person to study them, look behind the covers, if available, and see what they are really saying. If I see a poll which doesn't provide at least the next level of detail, then I tend to look at the results as merely interesting and then averaging them with similar polls.

@f[jerj48, I can understand why you would think that way, but I can't take such a jaundiced view of polling given I rely on it to help get a perspective on things.


UltimateDude 14 months ago from Kansas City, MO

Another great hub. It has always amazed me how a lot of people make their decisions based mainly on politics and not facts or alternative downside (choosing the lesser evil). It's not surprising that most people over 65 overwhelmingly dissaprove, which is why it drives me nuts every time an 80 year old is re-elected to office. They shouldn't be behind the wheel of a car let alone making decisions for nearly 400 million Americans.

As I love to say, history has a way of proving human beings wrong at every turn. Don't be on the wrong side of history.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 14 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Thanks perusing this Hub, UltimateDude as well as your comments.


bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 14 months ago from Orange County California

My Esoteric

People are herd animals, and polls shepherd them instead of reflecting them. While polls are mathematics applied, they rely on sampling which makes the individual artificially adhere to a poll result.

The only way this can be accurate if the bulk of the people conform to a herd mentality.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 14 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Long time no see, Bradmaster, still don't like polls, I see. Even so, a good survey is constructed to avoid those pitfalls.


bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 14 months ago from Orange County California

My Esoteric

Statistics is meant for processes, and it is out of its elements for determining social issues. The herd mentality is the only plausible answer for any kind of poll accuracy in these issues.

What is the veracity of a poll that says four out of five doctors recommend product X?

This statement is flawed with ambiguity, but it is swallowed easily by the herd.


Kevin Goodwin 13 months ago

The truth is that as long as Israel is allowed to have nuclear weapons even though SIPRI does not allow them to legally, Iran will continue with their nuclear program. Out of all the counties only five are legally able to have them and Israel is not on of those five.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 13 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Israeli nukes, one of the worst kept secrets in history. Not even the North Koreans keep theirs a secret. Five, that would be America, UK, Russia, France, and China. Then there is India and Pakistan, in addition to Israel and North Korea. Oh yes, than NATO shares its nukes with Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, and ... Turkey.

Fortunately, only one of those states is really a rogue state, North Korea, with Pakistan being pretty iffy.

If Iran gets a nuke, so will Saudi Arabia and probably other states as well. There is no question Iran is going to WANT nukes for the foreseeable future, BUT, are they willing to pay the price for one? As of this moment, it doesn't seem so. It will be up to future diplomacy to make sure they don't start down an active path to getting one again.

It is clear to me that those who oppose this nuclear deal are either naive, politically motivated, or pro-nuclear Iran. Why do I say that? Because none have a viable alternative, they just don't like the one Obama is responsible for.


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 13 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Brad, thanks for commenting again. But the story is the same, statistics have uses in virtually all aspects of life from processes to determining intelligence to marketing AND to social issues. The proof is in the pudding in that that have been successfully used for many decades, and this despite the constant misuse of them, either in formulation or interpretation.

One just needs to be informed enough to be able to distinguish the real from the fraud.


bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 13 months ago from Orange County California

MyEsoteric

My comment on statistics for charting the course of human nature is only useful because of the herd effect. The news media and their pundits and opinions have been absorbed by the herd as their opinion.

The difference between using statistics for a manufacturing process is that it is uniform, and failures can determine the quality of the entire product run. The earlier that you find the defect process, the more useful the statistic.

Explain a poll that says 4 out of 5 doctors recommend drug brand X.

As it stands, this was all that was presented to the viewer.

How valid is this poll?


My Esoteric profile image

My Esoteric 13 months ago from Keystone Heights, FL Author

Understand there is a difference between process oriented statistical methods and those used for other purposes. As to you example, only fools take that claim seriously; those are the kind of people they hope are reading their ad. Any thinking person will ask:

1. How large was the sample size?

2. What are the demographics of the population from which the sample was drawn?

3. How was the sample drawn?

4. What were the mean, mode, and standard deviation of the statistics.

5. Who is the firm who conducted the sampling, what is their history of being accurate?

5. Etc

After getting answers to those and other questions, ONLY THEN can you determine whether you believe assertion that 4 out of 5 doctors prefer Brand X.

As to the herd mentality, if that is how Americans think and vote and you are try to determine how they are voting on a specific issue, then that must be factored into the construction of the survey questions. Just because a lot of people don't use their reasoning ability to make choices doesn't mean you can't measure that fact.


bradmasterOCcal profile image

bradmasterOCcal 13 months ago from Orange County California

My Esoteric

The factor in the doctor poll is what is the specialty of these doctors, and why do these recommend X, and how many doctors were asked, and how many refused to answer. In addition what questions were they being asked, the exact question is important.

These questions are also important to know in political polls, as well as how the poll was administered. We only see the end results of the poll on TV. In addition, the TV media spins information that then becomes the conclusions of the viewers. It is impossible to give a poll without it being tainted by the media today.

I think it is wrong to use polls during the election cycle. I can see that the candidates want to know where they stand, but what is the value to the public.

The country is filled with polls, and they are just opinions with no facts.

What the country is missing is the raw, unadulterated facts.

Should polls take the place of facts.

My point on the herd effect is that the poll is doing more than taking the pulse, it could be changing the pulse. It is like using a voltmeter to read the voltage of a circuit. If the voltmeter becomes a part of the circuit then it influences the volt ,

Maybe we could get better results from congress and the president if we separated the herd from the Shepards, meaning the media, and their political parties.

just a thought

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