The Importance of Marketing

by on February 12, 2010 at 11:56 am in Current Affairs, Political Science, Science | Permalink

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From Ben Smith.  Hat tip: Daniel Lippman.

meter February 12, 2010 at 12:03 pm

The pollsters forgot to put the word “evil” in there. Republicans like to be signalled which side to pick.

Brad February 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm


The pollsters forgot to put the word “evil” in there. Republicans like to be signalled which side to pick.

Nice One…Palin can insert that as a trick of “hand”.

Ryan Vann February 12, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Interesting results. I wonder what unerlies the difference in outcomes exactly. Is it specifying seperate genders that accounts for it? If so, why?

Wagster February 12, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Andrew – not dumbass, just too damn nice.

It’s important to understand why the response changes. The respondent doesn’t like gay men and lesbians more than homosexuals, but he/she is speaking to a stranger over the phone about a volatile subject. If the interviewer uses words gay people use to self-identify, then the respondent — in order to not offend — will respond favorably. If the interviewer uses the words that gay rights opponents use, again the respondent will attempt to not offend, and bend with the direction the interviewer is signaling.

I used to be a phone interviewer in college. Actually doing the interviews yourself makes you take them with a rather larger grain of salt when you read about them.

Jared February 12, 2010 at 12:47 pm

When I worked for a political pollster, he always used “gay homosexual” in surveys. He also said that one should always poll the popularity of Hillary *Rodham* Clinton. His argument for this method was that it is very important to use these “key words” that trigger negative connotations for people who would otherwise not express them.

Andrew February 12, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hmmm. It looks like “opposed” dropped almost 10% in one year and they went to “neutral/decline.”

When Murtha passed I kind of reflected on the oddness that he was vilified in the last election. Then it occurred to me that defending the military and defending the troops are two completely different things. Hint that the emperor has no clothes and the empire has no use for you.

The whole idea of the military as a jobs program really chaps my chaps. We should ask the people what they need to be effective. We don’t have to give them everything, but we don’t have to go out of our way to poke them in the eye. I would let the military vote and be done with it.

libert February 12, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Andrew said, “I would let the military vote and be done with it.”

But then gay people wouldn’t be allowed to vote (or at least, they would be disproportionately under-represented). On a separate point, would we have wanted to have the military vote on whether or not to racially integrate?

Mr. E February 12, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Results like this aren’t really supportive of the rational expectations, are they?

rob February 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I think its interesting that total number of favor v. total number of oppose doesn’t really change, rather respondents tend to hedge a little with the “somewhat” modifier.

John Thacker February 12, 2010 at 4:10 pm

Mr. E:

I don’t see how anyone can see these type of results and think that it makes sense to have more government. Many more people would vote against gay rights than would actually treat them worse in real life or in the marketplace.

Josh R. February 12, 2010 at 10:49 pm

“Results like this aren’t really supportive of the rational expectations, are they?”

It depends on the mechanism involved, I suppose. If these results are created through framing processes making certain feelings/attitudes more accessible to the survey respondent, then perhaps not. The standard example is varying question wording on a proposed KKK rally to evoke either civil liberties concerns (free speech and so on) versus the potential of violence. Doing so, at least in a noncompetitive wording format, can indeed push responses quite radically. Other examples include asking people about food that is, say, 5% fat versus 95% fat free, which typically elicits quite different responses despite being the same concept. A few commentators have talked about the inclusion of the word lesbian. Maybe that is biasing what considerations are accessed prior to the survey response, but we’d need a good theory as to why it pushes people the way it’s alleged to do.

On the other hand, it could be caused by social desirability processes. On the face of it, that looks like an intriguing possibility since the group moving in this context may ostensibly also hold values equal rights, etc., at odds with discrimination against gays. But it makes no sense – why would social desirability biases be at work for gays and lesbians, but not homosexuals?

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Andrew February 13, 2010 at 3:42 am

“But then gay people wouldn’t be allowed to vote”

That’s right, because I don’t care what gay people think about what they don’t know about either. Again, the military is for killing people and destroying things with a minimum of distraction.

Andrew February 13, 2010 at 4:00 am

I once new a moderate, no really. I assume he was a democrat, but I’m a don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda guy. Whenever the topic came up, he was disgusted with the actual act. So, maybe it is the “homosexual” side that is the more vivid description for some.

Sam Loso February 13, 2010 at 10:07 pm

What is the span of time between these two surveys and were the same samples asked for both questions? If not, than the results are probably misleading….

Mr_Guy_Mann February 14, 2010 at 3:36 am

It has never surprised that wording can make a big difference, and that’s why responses over time or between matched groups are best compared only when the wording is the same (even then though, meanings can change while the words stay the same). There are many other things that can impact on responses including whether the item is positive or negative (that is, whether you are supposed to agree or disagree), where it is in relation to other items (which might prime particular associations), Etc Etc.

Results like these can tell something about the connotations of words as much as attitudes about the things the words are supposed to denote.

Converse, J. M, & Presser, S. (1986). Survey Questions: Handcrafting the standardized questionnaire. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Is good short summary.

Jeremy H. February 15, 2010 at 10:40 am

The median response is “favor” in both cases, the only difference is a drop from “strongly” to “somewhat.”

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pll fm August 2, 2010 at 11:20 pm

I once new a moderate, no really. I assume he was a democrat, but I’m a don’t-ask-don’t-tell kinda guy. Whenever the topic came up, he was disgusted with the actual act. So, maybe it is the “homosexual” side that is the more vivid description for some.

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