Zogby And The Arab Connection

Via a GoogleNews search for something totally unrelated, I stumbled upon an editorial entitled, “Zogby And The Arab Connection” in something called The Post Chronicle by a Michael J. Gaynor. The money part:

Are polls manipulated for political purposes?

Does that thought shock you? It should not.

James Zogby is a prominent pollster.

A Republican, he’s not. A Democrat, he is.

A supporter of Israel, he’s not. A support of “Palestine,” he is. (He interviewed the late Yasser Arafat on his television show.)

In addition to the Yoda-esque cadence, there’s a wee problem with this: James Zogby ain’t a pollster, prominent or otherwise. That would be John Zogby. His brother.

UPDATE: I posted a comment at the source before posting this blog entry. Several paragraphs into the piece, now, there’s recognition that James and John are brothers but there’s no “Correction/Update” notice. And the piece now makes no sense whatever as written, since the premise seems to shift at precisely the point of the mention that John is the guy with the polling company.

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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MC says:

    Umm.. James is John’s brother. And he IS a pollster.

    just an FYI

  2. The amusing thing to me is that I recall several years ago (it may have been the 2000 cycle), Rush Limbaugh thought Zogby was the best pollster out there. He even hired him to do some polling for his show.

    Rush loved Zogby when Zogby predicted GOP wins.

  3. Mark says:

    According to Wikipedia (source alert!), James works at brother Jim’s polling firm as an analyst. Whether that makes him a “pollster” I do not know.

  4. Jim Henley says:

    During the 1990s, Zogby’s polls seemed to do the best job of correcting for “sneaky conservatism,” the systematic tendency for some people to tell pollsters they were going to pull the “liberal” lever (candidate, ballot initiative, whatever) and then vote conservative in the actual booth.

    Since 2000, people seem to find his results chancier, though I don’t know if rival pollsters have consistently outperformed him.

    But all that really matters is that he’s a damn dirty Arab! So if the polls show bad numbers for Republicans, it’s because Zogby is a damn dirty Arab! And the very fact that there are two of them shows how sneaky they are. Haven’t we all seen The Prestige by now? Huh? HUH????

  5. James Joyner says:

    MC: Uh, I said that they’re brothers. But James isn’t a pollster; it’s his brother’s firm.

    Steven and Jim: Yup.

  6. Steven Plunk says:

    First of all Zogby (either one) is an American. The guy is as much an American as myself or anyone else. We do have to remember however that he has sympathies that are counter to Republicans on many issues. Not only sympathies but he advocates them on TV talk shows.

    Given those strong opinions it is reasonable to suspect that those opinions influence his polling. Whether it is the topics covered in the poll or the actual questions asked it doesn’t matter. That strong of an advocate almost certainly can’t help but have some bias creep in.

    Now we must take the next step an realize that today polls can influence elections. Strong positives and negatives can influence turnout, force adjustments in political strategies, sour people on candidates ceasing campaign contributions. Pollsters can influence elections so why can’t we examine those pollsters more closely?

    I don’t know who this writer is but the important part of what he wrote is that we must take all polling as somewhat subjective rather than objective even if it isn’t meant to be.

    We should always be on the lookout for information that is tainted in one way or another. Pollsters and their polls are no exception.

    Are Zogby’s polls rigged? I don’t know but like I said it is reasonable to suspect such a thing. It is also reasonable to suspect nothing is wrong with his work. Asking hard questions is far from calling someone “a damn dirty Arab”. Jeesh.