That McLaughlin push poll


Lots of conservative buzz about a poll (PDF) by John McLaughlin and Pat Caddell for an organization called "Secure America Now," one that (yet again) finds that President Obama is losing the Jewish community.

At the Washington Post, Adam Serwer (writing for Greg Sargent’s blog, the Plum Line) makes an impeccable case that (yet again) the poll is skewed.

The most egregious example is this question:

Considering what President Obama has proposed for Israel just over a year before his  2012 re-election campaign – a return to the 1967 borders, dividing Jerusalem, and  allowing the right of return for Palestinian Arabs to Israel – how concerned would you be  about President Obama’s policies towards Israel if he were re-elected and did not have to  worry about another election?

Sixty-seven percent of respondents say they would be "concerned." The problem, of course, is that Obama has called for none of these things. He has called for negotiations to be based on the 1967 lines (not borders — didn’t McLaughlin get that memo?) with mutually agreed swaps. He has called for Jerusalem and refugees to be left until later.

Other questions are almost as grievously skewed: "Should Jerusalem remain the undivided capital of Israel or should the  United States force Israel to give parts of Jerusalem, including Christian and Jewish holy sites, to the Palestinian Authority."

Who has proposed that, precisely? Not Obama — not anyone serious.

That makes this an expensive push poll.

The other problem is this question:

Would you vote to re-elect Barack Obama  as President or would you consider voting  for someone else?

Tevi Troy at National Review describes the 43-48 results as showing "that only 43 percent of Jews plan to vote to reelect Obama in 2012."

Of course it shows nothing of the sort. First of all, incumbents always fare relatively poorly against generics of the opposing party. Except, this isn’t even a generic of the opposing party — it’s "someone else." It could be a Democrat in the primaries. It could be an independent.

And more critically, the respondents are saying they would "consider voting" for someone else. I can’t see how every Independent responding, and not a few Democrats, would not "consider" voting for another candidate.

Again, it’s meaningless.

I have the same problem with this poll as I did McLaughlin’s previous foray into Jewish polling: Before it gets into the push questions — which skew the rest of the poll — there’s useful, interesting stuff here.

Obama’s defense posture and Benjamin Netanyahu overall have the same approval rating — 65 percent. Jews list priorities as follows: the economy (44 percent); social issues like health care (41 percent); foreign policy and Israel (14 percent).

Dig deeper and find out why. Why screw it up with skewed questions?

Recommended from JTA