Full Zogby Results

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:

Poll of US Military Personnel in Iraq – 1/18/06 thru 2/14/06

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
5.0%…..(47)….Not sure
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
7.4%…..(70)….Minor reason
50.1%…(473)…Major reason
35.2%…(332)…Main reason
4.3%…..(41)….Not sure
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?

1…2…3…4…5…6…Not sure

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:

22.6%…(214)…Definitely false
23.8%…(225)…Mostly false
23.6%…(222)…Partly true, partly false
9.8%…..(93)….Mostly true
10.2%….(96)….Definitely true
9.7%…..(92)….Not sure
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.

Zogby Troop Poll: An Odd Correction

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

See also: California Yankee, Officer’s Club

Comments

  1. Murdoc, You identified part of the confusion – who did they ask? If you ask an artillery crew about white phosphorus, you will probably get different (and better informed) answers than you would from a Finance unit. There are proper and improper ways to use WP – Barnes in Platoon = inappropriate. The questions on when troops should be sent home make me laugh. We’ve sent these young people to a far-off shithole and asked them when they think they should go home! Hmm – soon? I wonder if they did any troop surveys in Vietnam. 90% would agree they should have been sent home yesterday.

  2. i READ THE QUESTIONNAIRE AT RADIO HEAD. I have been in the market research business for 30 years. The True-False scale is presented backwards. Most people expect the left side to be True and the right side to be false. Because the scale is shown without descriptors next to each number (except at the top of the page) it is likely some, but not all, of the respondents answered code 1 thinking it meant ‘definitely true’ when it meant ‘definitely false’. Further, the questionnaire was designed for one person (the interviewer) to read while another (the respondent) answered. We know this because the GENDER question has the words ‘OBSERVE. DO NOT ASK.’ which is an instruction to the interviewer not to ask the respondent if he is Male or Female but to do so by observation. Normally a questionnaire has an instruction ‘HAND CARD A’ when an answer scale is used. Card A has the answer scale printed on it. If the instruction is missing then we must conclude no card was used and therefore the respondent had to remember that for a true-false scale 1 is definitely false and 5 is definitely true. Another problem with true/false as opposed to agree/disagree is that a person can ‘agree’ with Q23 but believe that Q23 is ‘false’ assuming that the word ‘legitimate’ means ‘legal’ rather than ‘acceptable’. ‘Agree’ reflects personal feeling. ‘True’ reflects either personal feeling or absolute Truth. And of course, rules of engagement are not the same everywhere in Iraq. Q8-14 and Q17-24 were written in such a way as to cause some normal respondents to give an answer opposite to the one he/she intended. The answers to these questions are unreportable because there is no way to know whether or not the respondent intended the answer that was recorded. Finally, who did the interviews? Were interviewers flown in from the U.S? Who paid the air fare? What was the politics of these interviewers? Did they actually leave the safety of their hotel and risk their lives to get an anonymous interview? Ha! Or did they chicken out an fill in the questionnaires in thei hotel rooms? Where is the proof each interview actually took place and correctly records the actual answers given by a living human being who was the person described in the questionnaire. If the interviewers were hired locally then it is likely they worked for the insurgent disinformation corps. The insurgents provide both photo ops and photographers as well as taxi drivers and interpreters for the MSM.

  3. I posted this up on MysteryPollster, but here it is again, although I’ve changed the order to hilight a few other things: Hmmm I just found a much more favorable view of the war, from our troops: How ’bout these results: 58% see their mission as clear. 51.6% believe that those calling for a rapid withdrawal are either unpatriotic or ill-informed. A mere 4.3% believed that WMD was a major reason they went to war, while 77.8% say that a major reason we went there was to remove Saddam from power, demonstrating conclusively that our troops were paying attention when Bush gave Saddam and his sons the pre-invasion ultimatum. Only 21% believe that ‘Establishing a Democracy’ is not a reason to be there. 76.3% say that a major reason was to ‘stop Saddam from protecting Al-Qaeda,’ again showing that they know where Zarqawi was hanging out, pre-February, 2003. Over 40% believe that ‘protecting oil’ was NOT a reason; while another 38.3% see it only as a ‘minor reason.’ 88% do not see ‘providing a long-term base’ as a major reason for being there. Only 13.2% say that the on-going violence has given them a negative view of the people of Iraq. Where’d I get these results? The same Zogby Poll. Packaging matters. /////// As regards the ‘how long’ question, we know that the order in which questions are asked matters – a lot. No one wants to give the appearance of inconsistency. So we see question #14: [Was this a (main, major, minor, not a) reason to go to war in Iraq]: 14. To provide a long-term base for U.S. troops in the Middle East Followed by question #15: 15. How long should U.S. troops stay in Iraq? This may be proper procedure in a push-poll, but not in one designed to actually measure the opinions of those being questioned. ///////