Silver: Ignore Poll Showing Docs Opposed to Reform
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2009 3:46 PM CDT
Michael Ramirez, editorial cartoonist for Investor's Business Daily, holds a copy of the newspaper.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – A new Investors’ Business Daily poll showing doctors opposed to President Obama’s health care reform is generating some buzz today, but it's so flawed that Nate Silver has only this advice: “Completely ignore” it, he writes on FiveThirtyEight. Here’s why:

  • It's conducted by mail: Hardly anyone does this because it strains credibility.
  • Bias: Here's one question: "Do you believe the government can cover 47 million more people and it will cost less money and the quality of care will be better?" Says Silver: "Holy run-on-sentence, Batman"—a pollster who does this "is not intending to be objective."

  • Ineptitude: "The IBD/TIPP polling operation has literally no idea what they're doing," Silver writes. They're the ones who had McCain up 74-22 with young voters.
  • Responses still arriving: "Professional pollsters," Silver notes, "generally do not report results before the survey period is compete."
  • No disclosure: "IBD doesn't bother to define the term 'practicing physician,' which could mean almost anything. Nor do they explain how their randomization procedure worked, provide the entire question battery, or anything like that."