Radio Blogger has a .pdf of the full results from the controversial Zogby poll (covered on MO here, here, and here) which has been in the spotlight for a couple of days. Murdoc’s taken the liberty of snagging it and making it available to MO readers here:
If you would rather just look at a scanned-in version (squinty-eyes required) in your browser without all that mucking about with Acrobat, check out Radio Blogger. The post also contains what is apparently the original questionnaire.
To be honest, though there are a few oddball things about the questions and results, it’s hard to get all up in arms about it. It’s certainly not as bad as some thought and I feared.
Much, much more (including some full responses) below the fold!
For instance, the “when should the troops come home question is not phrased “When would you LIKE to go home” or “When do you EXPECT to go home” as some critics have suggested. Here is what the troops saw:
15. How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq?
1. They should withdraw immediately
2. They should withdraw within the next six months
3. They should withdraw within six to twelve months
4. They should stay as long as they are needed
5. Not sure
And here are the results of that question:
28.9%…(273)…They should withdraw immediately
22.3%…(211)…They should withdraw within the next six months
20.5%…(194)…They should withdraw within six to twelve months
22.8%…(216)…They should stay as long as they are needed
0.4%……(4)…..Refused to Answer
Murdoc has got to admit that this seems pretty straightforward. Sure, you could argue that only one result had anything to do with the situation on the ground and that without some parameters it’s hard to know exactly what made the troops answer the way that they did. But it’s not a grossly misleading poll question or misrepresentation of the results as many of us had feared.
If you look back at my original post on the issue, you’ll see that the two results that bothered me the most were those concerning the reason behind the US mission in Iraq and the use of napalm and white phosphorus. Again, it doesn’t seem to be the poll questions that skewed the results to what seems to be a senseless result.
First, the reason we’re in Iraq:
This was a multi-part question, with first a question asking the troops how clear their understanding of the US mission was. 26.5% responded “Very Clear” and 30.9% responded “Somewhat Clear”, while 22.4% responded “Very Unclear”, “No Understanding”, or “Not Sure”. While this may seem odd, those with any understanding of the military (and government in general) will realize that at most times there are lots of people doing lots of things simply because they’ve been told to and it’s their job to do what they’re told. I’m not defending the situation, just pointing out that a quarter of the people feeling a bit in the dark isn’t really unexpected.
After this question were a series of seven reasons, each of which troops were to rate. Here’s the wording according to the info on Radio Blogger:
Please rate the statements in questions 8 through 14 as reasons for the Iraq invasion, using the following scale:
1 – Not a reason
2 – Minor reason
3 – Major reason
4 – Main reason
5 – Not sure
If you want to see the full results for each reason, see the .pdf. The one that shocked me was this:
12. To retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9/11 attacks
2.7%…..(26)….Not a reason
0.2%……(2)….Refused to Answer
This is, as I mentioned previously, quite curious. I know that MO has a fairly substantial number of regular readers who are in the military. While I realize that many are skeptical that Saddam’s Iraq had no ties to Al Qaeda, I’m not aware of any who believe that Iraq was involved (except maybe in the most tangential and incidental way) in 9/11 at all, let alone believe that retaliation for such involvement was a main or major reason for invading Iraq. If you or anyone you know really and truly believes this, I’d be interested in hearing from you. Not to argue. Just to know that there are, in fact, some in the military who feel this way. Because I’m really having trouble swallowing it.
Still, it’s not the poll that should be blamed for this odd result. I wish it were the case, but it’s not. Not if this is the genuine article.
Next is the napalm/WP issue. This is the one I called “bullshit” on, and I said was going to stand by that unless/until the actual questions and detailed results came out. Here they are, so let’s review. Here’s the question as presented:
The insurgency has at least tripled the number of attacks on US troops over the past two years., but despite this there have been political and economic advances. Based on your experiences in Iraq, please rate statements 17 through 24 using the following scale:
1 – Definitely false
2 – Mostly false
3 – Partly true, partly false
4 – Mostly true
5 – Definitely true
23. It is legitimate to use white phosophorus or napalm-like inflamants against insurgents?
Not only does this seem pretty straightforward, but it even uses “napalm-like inflamants” instead of just specifying “napalm”. And it very clearly notes that the question is about use “against insurgents”. Here are the results:
23.6%…(222)…Partly true, partly false
0.2%……(2)….Refused to Answer
I find these results to be even more astounding than those indicating that a large number of troops in Iraq think we’re there to retaliate against Saddam for his role in 9/11. I simply have trouble accepting that large numbers of US soldiers and Marines would answer this question in this way.
During the aftermath of the initial invasion of Iraq, I noted that the Pentagon was playing the “Mk-77 fire bombs are not napalm” game, and that it was a) dumb semantics that would only serve to confuse the situation and b) pointless regardless of the technical accuracy because we should be using the right weapon for the mission and that often the right weapon will threaten the safety of enemy troops. I believe that “napalm-like incendiaries” can safely be referred to as “napalm” in general conversation unless the technical differences matter. Sort of like how we refer to “shrapnel” even if it isn’t technically accurate. But that’s just me.
Is this confusing poll response the result of several years of confusing semantic games like the “napalm vs. Mk-77” debate and the “white phosphorus is a chemical weapon” charges? Have years of negative press and ignorant media reports, compounded by military spokesmen often trying to skate the edges of political correctness, caused many troops to question or at least misunderstand the weapons in the arsenal?
One other observation is that the “Partly true, Partly false” response was nearly equal to the “Mostly false” response. This could mean that troops thought napalm was wrong to use but that WP was okay. Or vice-versa. Or that they thought WP was okay to use as a marking device but not as a direct weapon. Or that napalm was wrong and that we should be using cluster munitions instead. It’s really hard to tell.
This brings us to the demographics issue. To be fair, there is a decent amount of demographic data in the poll itself, with questions about branch of service, age, race, number of tours in Iraq, time in Iraq, and gender. Women are apparently over-represented to some degree (25% of respondents), but so are Marines (also 25% of respondents). Both categories might be expected to give answers different from the standard by, but in many cases the “bloodthirsty” Marines will cancel out the “homemaker” female responses. (Yes, those are gross generalizations and patently unfair, but I’m not not a patent lawyer. Besides, that’s the sort of thing that critics of the poll are sometimes saying.)
One big unaddressed demographics point would be the number of combat troops and others on the “front-lines” represented in the poll vs. those in the rear areas or with little/no exposure to combat. Something tells Murdoc that those with a fair amount of time under fire will probably feel differently about using napalm than those in rear or peaceful areas.
I also find it curious that respondents seem to favor doubling the number of troops and bombing missions. This seems to indicate, at least to an extent, that it’s not weak-kneed defeatists we’re talking about here. Just folks who don’t think we should use napalm or Willy Pete. Murdoc’s mystified.
As others have pointed out, re-enlistment rates are high, and even higher among combat units. That is a poll result in itself, and lot more meaningful in many ways that a third-party survey of opinions. It’s more meaningful than the old “put your money where your mouth is” line of reasoning. It’s “put your life where your mouth is”. And they’re doing it in surprisingly large numbers.
Also, Radio Blogger has a transcript of John Zogby’s appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show. It didn’t go well, though I think it’s fair to say that Hewitt wasn’t the most gracious host and was playing the role of “Right-wing attack dog” to the hilt. I’m generally a fan of Hewitt, but I would have liked to learn more about this poll. Hewitt’s line of questioning pretty much shot down any chance of learning anything useful, which is too bad.
One thing, though, is that Zogby kept going on and on about how all the demographics info had been released, and that if Hewitt wanted to discuss the poll he should review the thing before attacking. That’s reasonable, but if this info is so readily available, why is it that I had to get if from Radio Blogger? Even those who purchase the $20 Executive Summary from the Zogby web site did not get this information. So, while I think Hewitt was more than a bit off-base in his questioning (he had the info), Zogby doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room when it comes to the availability of the info. That’s fair enough, as Zogby owns it and isn’t obliged to make it public if it doesn’t want to, but it also means that “we made it all available” defenses are going to ring hollow.
I would love to hear from others about this. Particularly from those in uniform who might be able to shed some light on the weird (as Murdoc sees them) responses listed above. All I ask is that those who are going to claim that the “whole poll is bullshit” at least read the results and have some supporting evidence or logic.
UPDATE: Mystery Pollster has been all over this story from the beginning. Here are a couple of recent posts:
Zogby Troop Poll: The Random Probability Sample
This is directly related to the question of who, exactly, took this poll. If the respondents don’t represent a even and random selection, it’s difficult to know if the results mean anything. The poll wasn’t conducted on a standard “random probability” basis.
The survey’s sponsor was not, as has been widely reported, Le Moyne University or the Center for Peace and Global Security, but “a wealthy war opponent who [Zogby] would not name.” This is according to the Syracuse Post. Mystery Pollster sheds more light on this.
Also, Smash has some thoughts to share: Polling the Military