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Thread: Zogby poll of US service members in Iraq

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    Zogby poll of US service members in Iraq

    An interesting poll that should be stirring things up in the news. Unfortunately, getting more details about methodology, actual questions, detailed demographics, etc. costs $20, and even then some details won't be released, so it's impossible to do a review of their methodology to see what biases may exist if their methodology is bad.

    http://www.zogby.com/news/ReadNews.dbm?ID=1075

    Released: February 28, 2006
    U.S. Troops in Iraq: 72% Say End War in 2006

    Le Moyne College/Zogby Poll shows just one in five troops want to heed Bush call to stay “as long as they are needed”

    While 58% say mission is clear, 42% say U.S. role is hazy
    Plurality believes Iraqi insurgents are mostly homegrown
    Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddam’s role in 9/11, most don’t blame Iraqi public for insurgent attacks
    Majority of troops oppose use of harsh prisoner interrogation
    Plurality of troops pleased with their armor and equipment

    An overwhelming majority of 72% of American troops serving in Iraq think the U.S. should exit the country within the next year, and nearly one in four say the troops should leave immediately, a new Le Moyne College/Zogby International survey shows.

    The poll, conducted in conjunction with Le Moyne College’s Center for Peace and Global Studies, showed that 29% of the respondents, serving in various branches of the armed forces, said the U.S. should leave Iraq “immediately,” while another 22% said they should leave in the next six months. Another 21% said troops should be out between six and 12 months, while 23% said they should stay “as long as they are needed.”

    Different branches had quite different sentiments on the question, the poll shows. While 89% of reserves and 82% of those in the National Guard said the U.S. should leave Iraq within a year, 58% of Marines think so. Seven in ten of those in the regular Army thought the U.S. should leave Iraq in the next year. Moreover, about three-quarters of those in National Guard and Reserve units favor withdrawal within six months, just 15% of Marines felt that way. About half of those in the regular Army favored withdrawal from Iraq in the next six months.

    The troops have drawn different conclusions about fellow citizens back home. Asked why they think some Americans favor rapid U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq, 37% of troops serving there said those Americans are unpatriotic, while 20% believe people back home don’t believe a continued occupation will work. Another 16% said they believe those favoring a quick withdrawal do so because they oppose the use of the military in a pre-emptive war, while 15% said they do not believe those Americans understand the need for the U.S. troops in Iraq.

    The wide-ranging poll also shows that 58% of those serving in country say the U.S. mission in Iraq is clear in their minds, while 42% said it is either somewhat or very unclear to them, that they have no understanding of it at all, or are unsure. While 85% said the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks,” 77% said they also believe the main or a major reason for the war was “to stop Saddam from protecting al Qaeda in Iraq.”

    “Ninety-three percent said that removing weapons of mass destruction is not a reason for U.S. troops being there,” said Pollster John Zogby, President and CEO of Zogby International. “Instead, that initial rationale went by the wayside and, in the minds of 68% of the troops, the real mission became to remove Saddam Hussein.” Just 24% said that “establishing a democracy that can be a model for the Arab World" was the main or a major reason for the war. Only small percentages see the mission there as securing oil supplies (11%) or to provide long-term bases for US troops in the region (6%).

    The continuing insurgent attacks have not turned U.S. troops against the Iraqi population, the survey shows. More than 80% said they did not hold a negative view of Iraqis because of those attacks. About two in five see the insurgency as being comprised of discontented Sunnis with very few non-Iraqi helpers. “There appears to be confusion on this,” Zogby said. But, he noted, less than a third think that if non-Iraqi terrorists could be prevented from crossing the border into Iraq, the insurgency would end. A majority of troops (53%) said the U.S. should double both the number of troops and bombing missions in order to control the insurgency.

    The survey shows that most U.S. military personnel in-country have a clear sense of right and wrong when it comes to using banned weapons against the enemy, and in interrogation of prisoners. Four in five said they oppose the use of such internationally banned weapons as napalm and white phosphorous. And, even as more photos of prisoner abuse in Iraq surface around the world, 55% said it is not appropriate or standard military conduct to use harsh and threatening methods against insurgent prisoners in order to gain information of military value.

    Three quarters of the troops had served multiple tours and had a longer exposure to the conflict: 26% were on their first tour of duty, 45% were on their second tour, and 29% were in Iraq for a third time or more.

    A majority of the troops serving in Iraq said they were satisfied with the war provisions from Washington. Just 30% of troops said they think the Department of Defense has failed to provide adequate troop protections, such as body armor, munitions, and armor plating for vehicles like HumVees. Only 35% said basic civil infrastructure in Iraq, including roads, electricity, water service, and health care, has not improved over the past year. Three of every four were male respondents, with 63% under the age of 30.

    The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006, is +/- 3.3 percentage points.

    (2/28/2006)
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Here's a good solid polling interpretation blog, and basically, since none of the details about the poll are going to be released, there is no way to verify the validity of the methodology, demographics, questions, and conclusions.

    Also, the language that the sample respondents were "intercepted" leads me to believe that it wasn't a random sample (e.g. choosing every tenth soldier that eats lunch at the chow hall is not a random sample of all soldiers in Iraq - it doesn't represent soldiers who are out on patrol at lunchtime, who choose not to eat at the chow hall, or for whatever reason don't frequent the lunch meal at the chow hall - so, it is only a random selection of soldiers who eat the noon meal at the chow hall). Since the survey is touted as random, and since the language leads me to believe that it isn't random, the margin of error is probably grossly understated.

    Other than the above, there's no other information to go on for actual analysis, other than I found the following statement to be comical and discrediting: "More disclosure could put the interviewers' lives at risk". Why would more disclosure risk the interviewers' lives? Were Iraqis interviewing soldiers with paper questionnaires in the middle of a patrol? I doubt it. Will angry soldiers storm the living quarters of the persons who administered the survey? I'm sure the Code Red orders have already been issued

    http://www.mysterypollster.com/main/...gby_poll_.html

    February 28, 2006

    The Zogby Poll of Troops in Iraq

    MP has received email from several readers asking about a just released survey of troops currently serving in Iraq conducted by Zogby International and noted in Nicholas Kristof's column in the New York Times this morning.

    According to the release, Zogby conducted the survey in collaboration with the Center for Peace and Global Studies at Le Moyne College. Those who click through to the Zogby summary will find the following methodology statement:

    The survey included 944 military respondents interviewed at several undisclosed locations throughout Iraq. The names of the specific locations and specific personnel who conducted the survey are being withheld for security purposes. Surveys were conducted face-to-face using random sampling techniques. The margin of error for the survey, conducted Jan. 18 through Feb. 14, 2006, is 3.3 percentage points.

    I wrote about another survey of troops in Iraq conducted last year by the Military Times newspapers (here and here) and know that polling active duty troops is no easy task. So I sent an email to John Zogby this morning asking if he could describe the survey a bit more in general terms if not in specifics.

    Zogby returned my call this afternoon. While not exactly a fan of this site (to put it mildly) he was courteous enough to provide a more in-depth explanation of what his company did and why he is unwilling to disclose more publicly. Unfortunately, the ground rules for our conversation prevent me from sharing much of what he told me. But I did come away convinced that Zogby has good reason to withhold the details of how he was able to interview U.S. troops the way he did. More disclosure could put the interviewers' lives at risk.

    Here is what I can say:

    The Center for Peace and Global Studies paid Zogby to conduct the study but otherwise played no role in conducting interviews or gathering the data.
    According to the procedure Zogby described, respondents were intercepted randomly (e.g. they were not self selected) at multiple locations throughout Iraq (e.g. not just in the so-called "Green Zone") and interviewed using a paper questionnaire that they filled out with the assistance of an interviewer.

    Zogby was willing to share the specific geographic locations where they collected data on the condition I not repeat them. I passed on the offer as my knowledge of Iraq and military operations there is cursory at best, but I have no doubt his offer was genuine.

    Zogby provided Nick Kristof and others reporting on the poll full details about his methodology on an "off-the-record" basis.

    So in short, I can tell you that Zogby found a creative solution to the difficult problem of polling troops in Iraq, but I promised to say no more than that. I asked Zogby what advice he would offer data consumers who find this all puzzling. In this case, he said, "you have to trust me."

    PS: I neglected a hat tip to the reader who blogs at Fickle Minded and first emailed me about the Zogby poll.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Almost 90% think war is retaliation for Saddamís role in 9/11
    That blows it for me. There's no way possible.
    No man is free until all men are free - John Hossack
    I agree completely with this Administrationís goal of a regime change in Iraq-John Kerry
    even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act-John Kerry
    He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. Itís the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat-John Kerry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Confed999
    That blows it for me. There's no way possible.
    Maybe they interviewed Iraqi soldiers instead of US soldiers
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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    Quote Originally Posted by shek
    Maybe they interviewed Iraqi soldiers instead of US soldiers
    Jeeze, I was thinking more like North Korean civilians...
    No man is free until all men are free - John Hossack
    I agree completely with this Administrationís goal of a regime change in Iraq-John Kerry
    even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act-John Kerry
    He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. Itís the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat-John Kerry

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    A trickily worded question could end up with a result like the one that you're having a hard time believing.

    A lot of times in these polls a question is deviously constructed to purposely result in a certain favored answer.

    I suspect this is probably one such instance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shek
    Why would more disclosure risk the interviewers' lives? Were Iraqis interviewing soldiers with paper questionnaires in the middle of a patrol? I doubt it. Will angry soldiers storm the living quarters of the persons who administered the survey? I'm sure the Code Red orders have already been issued

    Did you order the Code Red?

    You're g**damn right I did!
    TwentyFiveFortyFive

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    I have my doubts about the true "randomness" of this survey.

    Questions could be easily constructed to bias the answers toward the desired results. The survey could have interviewed more guards and reserves than active personel.

    Bottom line is if the survey doesn't disclose its methodology and the actual questions used, then it's not truely scientific.

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    Quote Originally Posted by M21Sniper
    A trickily worded question could end up with a result like the one that you're having a hard time believing.
    I can see it now....
    Polster: "Do you like cheese?"
    Soldier: "Yes."
    Polster marks down one more in "Saddam was the mastermind of 9/11" category.
    No man is free until all men are free - John Hossack
    I agree completely with this Administrationís goal of a regime change in Iraq-John Kerry
    even if that enforcement is mostly at the hands of the United States, a right we retain even if the Security Council fails to act-John Kerry
    He may even miscalculate and slide these weapons off to terrorist groups to invite them to be a surrogate to use them against the United States. Itís the miscalculation that poses the greatest threat-John Kerry

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Pollster: which is closer to the truth? Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack? Or Loch Ness Monster caused Glen Miller's flight to vanish into thin air back in WW2?

    Troop: uh....Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack. But this questi...

    Pollster: OK...next question...given 2 choices, withdraw immediately or lifetime deployment here, which would you choose?

    Troop: uh...withdraw immediately...but th...

    Pollster: OK. Next question...

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    I love those kinds of polls. lol
    The black flag is raised: Ban them all... Let the Admin sort them out.

    I know I'm going to have the last word... I have powers of deletion and lock.

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    one wonders if there would have been this level of questioning regarding accuracy if the results were more in line with our preconceived notions!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut
    Pollster: which is closer to the truth? Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack? Or Loch Ness Monster caused Glen Miller's flight to vanish into thin air back in WW2?

    Troop: uh....Saddam was behind the 9/11 attack. But this questi...

    Pollster: OK...next question...given 2 choices, withdraw immediately or lifetime deployment here, which would you choose?

    Troop: uh...withdraw immediately...but th...

    Pollster: OK. Next question...
    Exactly what i was talking about...and we've probably all seen polls worded like that, lol.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis
    one wonders if there would have been this level of questioning regarding accuracy if the results were more in line with our preconceived notions!
    Considering that my percieved notions are largely driven by the commentary of our troops?
    Last edited by Bill; 02 Mar 06, at 03:30.

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    Quote Originally Posted by astralis
    one wonders if there would have been this level of questioning regarding accuracy if the results were more in line with our preconceived notions!
    Probably not, but then again, it is not natural for people to think WTF? about something and not do a double take.

    I wouldn't expect the inverse result necessarily, i.e. that 72% of service members in Iraq believe that the US should stay indefinitely until the job is done. I think something more along the lines of a relatively even split with more in favor of staying to get the job done is what I would have expected.

    Anyways, I like to look behind the results of polls in many cases simply because it gives me a chance to apply some of the knowledge that I've been learning in my econometrics classes and to learn more about polling itself. In this case, not publishing methodology/questions/demographics is the first red flag. Then, using the excuse the "interviewers lives would be at stake" makes that red flag even larger - how would interviewers' lives be at stake? how would revealing the sample locations even reveal their identities? There's so many unanswered questions that I just don't find the explanation credible.

    Also, given how distorted conclusions that are cited from polling statistics can be, I also like to look into the poll to see whether confirmation questions are asked and the numbers are consistent (I don't know the exact polling language, but basically, the same question is asked is various ways - inconsistent answers means that there is a bias that manifests itself by the way the question is asked). Once again, since there is no detailed methodology/questions/demographics published, you cannot investigate this.

    Also, there are no questions that reveal motivations for answers. For example, a question about how willing servicemembers are to serve additional tours would reveal whether their "pull out" answers are motivated by their assessment of progress on the ground or whether they are tired of deploying. Also, there may be other factors that motivate their answers, such as a recent traumatic event in their unit. This poll may have tried to separate out these motivations or not - we'll never know if it did and the information wasn't released because it contradicted the "desired" results.

    So, these are just a few of the reasons why I don't put much stock in the credibility of this poll - I am a trusting individual, but my philosophical outlook on trust is Reaganesque - "trust by verify." Well, you can't verify here, so I can't trust the results.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

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