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Respected Pollster Questions Methodologies of Pro “Missouri Plan” Poll

December 17th, 2007 by mopns · No Comments

Last week, a new poll was released by Justice at Stake, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, and the Missouri Institute for Justice which purportedly showed that 71% of Missourians support our current system for choosing many of our state’s judges. The results of this poll are the exact opposite of what a recent poll conducted for the Federalist Society found. According to this press release from the three organizations:

“Bipartisan majorities oppose many of the proposals to change the system recently floated by critics, while 73 percent of those surveyed want Missouri judges to be independent of elected officials like the governor and state legislature.”

The survey of 600 Missouri voters was conducted December 4-6, 2007 by Republican polling firm Public Opinion Strategies. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.

This memo from respected pollster Kellyanne Conway of The Polling Company, explains some of the differences in the way the two polls were conducted and suggests reasons why the results may vary. Ms. Conway is careful to point out that her memo is “not a critique of this survey generally or is it meant to completely dismiss their findings, but rather to point out where certain phraseologies and methodological decisions could have led to findings that were not as representative of the Missouri public as some claim.”

Here are a few of her methodological concerns:

  • The JAS/MIJ/MFIC survey lacks a disclosure of regional breakdowns. In the survey conducted by tpc, where a person lived had a definite impact on how he or she felt. If survey respondents in the JAS/MIJ/MFIC poll were not properly sampled according to the residency of Missouri voters, the results could be skewed.
  • The age distribution in the JAS/MIJ/MFIC poll appears to rely too heavily on older voters (29% are 65+ while 18-24 year olds only comprised 2% and 25-34 year olds only comprised 8% of the responses). According to 2004 exit polls in the state footnote, 18-29 year olds comprised 20% of people who actually voted.
  • The political approvals calculated in the JAS/MIJ/MFIC survey appear to contrast significantly compared to other surveys. For example, Governor Blunt’s favorable rating varies dramatically compared to other statewide surveys. A Research 2000 poll conducted in mid-November for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOV-TV of 800 likely voters, for example, showed Governor Blunt’s approval rating was 40%, compared to the 53% calculated in the JAS/MIJ/MFIC survey.
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    • 1 Jim Byrne // Dec 18, 2007 at 1:20 pm

      One of the most amazing things I noticed about this poll, other than the ridiculous conclusions drawn by it, were the questions asked. The questions, including the phrasing, were leading. This poll was not scientific. It was designed to arrive at the results it wanted.

      Let’s look at one question:

      First, how much would you say you know about what courts and judges do in Missouri?

      60% TOTAL GREAT DEAL/SOME
      12% A GREAT DEAL
      48% SOME
      31% LITTLE
      8% NOTHING AT ALL
      39% TOTAL LITTLE/NOTHING
      1% DON’T KNOW
      – REFUSED

      This information should have been concluded by asking questions that would inform the polling company about the knowledge of those polled.

      Did they really expect those polled to admit that they really didn’t have a clue?

      Ask some probative questions, and I bet you will get a better assesment of the knowledge of those polled. i.e.

      1. How many judges sit on the Missouri Supreme Court?

      2. How many judges on the Supreme Court must agree in order for your case to be decided?

      3. What cities and counties have their judges selected under the Missouri Plan?

      4. What Article of the Missouri Constitution describes the Judiciary?

      Simple questions like this would have given a greater representation as to the knowledge of our court system.

      I doubt the Polling Company really wanted the results of the questions that I would present.

      Take the time to read the summary and the questions presented.

      The Polling Company, The Missouri Bar, and the representatives of the Missouri Bar (Justice at Stake, Missourians for Fair and Impartial Courts, and the Missouri Institute for Justice) want to keep the voters in the dark.

      In 1787, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to James Madison in which he stated, “I know of no safe repository of the ultimate power of society but the people, and if we think them not enlightened enough, the remedy is not to take the power from them.”

      That’s exactly what the Missouri Plan did, and they slid it right under the noses of the voters by creating fear.

      It’s time to change the Missouri Plan. The Judiciary is part of the People’s Government. The people should have the greatest say in who sits on the bench, beit through direct election, or via their elected representatives.

      The Missouri Supreme Court created the Missouri Bar. Letting the Bar select the judges is, in essence, the worst form of nepotism we can have.

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