SurveyUSA polls the ballot measures (including the worst poll question of all time)

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Today, KATU and SurveyUSA released a new poll of Oregon voters. They polled the presidential race and a handful of ballot measures. And in one case, they managed to write the most poorly-written poll question of all time.

First, the presidential. Barack Obama leads Mitt Romney by a margin of 50 to 41%. It's these sorts of close-but-not-too-close poll results that always makes Oregon seem tempting to the GOP. But in the end, the undecideds (which lean young and middle-income) always seem to come home to the Democrats.

They also asked an interesting question of Obama and Romney voters. Are you voting for your guy, or against the other guy? Obama voters were 80/17 voting "for Obama" rather than "against Romney". By contrast, Romney voters were 50% "against Obama" and 47% "for Romney". I've never seen a question like this, and I'm not sure what it really means, but it does seem to suggest a lack of enthusiasm on the part of Romney voters that may collapse if it momentum continues to shift away from him. (It won't make a big difference in Oregon, but in other swing states, if the trend is true there, well, watch out. This election could quickly get away from the GOP.)

As for the ballot measures:

Marijuana legalization, Measure 80, is a toss-up - with 37% in favor, 41% against, and 22% undecided. There's an interesting gender gap, with men in favor at 42/40 and women against at 33/41. Just 18% of men are undecided, while 27% of women are.

The casino measures, 82 and 83, are losing - 27/43 and 28/39 respectively. A third of voters are undecided. In this case, the noticeable crosstab is with age - the older you are, the less you like it. Voters 18-34 are basically split, while 65+ voters are 53% against. Party affiliation also doesn't seem to correlate with the numbers at all.

And then there's the worst poll question ever: On Measure 85, SurveyUSA asked - I swear, this is the whole question -

On Measure 85, which is about a corporate tax "kicker," are you ...? Certain to vote yes? Certain to vote no? Or not certain?

Yeah. It's "about" a corporate tax kicker. Is it going to abolish it? Double it? Dedicate it to schools? or maybe to marijuana stores in casinos? Seriously.

So, given that question, it's no wonder that the poll results are completely wacky. 14% in favor, 21% opposed, and 65% undecided. In fact, liberals and Democrats had the weakest numbers in favor - probably because they assumed that a measure "about" the corporate tax kicker might be something to help corporations.

Unbelievably stupid. Worse still, when the O's Jeff Mapes called 'em on it, SurveyUSA doubled down on their idiocy:

Jay Leve, the chief executive office of SurveyUSA, defended the wording of the question. He said that the firm is trying to determine who has firm opinions on a ballot measure, so it uses as spare a description as possible.

Even Republican pollster Bob Moore - who knows a thing or two about how to conduct a poll to generate bullshit results - pointed and laughed:

"I'm kind of surprised by the way they handled Measure 85," said Moore, who frequently polls for Republican candidates. He said using the ballot title reflects what voters will actually see when they mark their ballots.

Yeah. I'm a fan of SurveyUSA. They usually do good work. But it looks like KATU should ask for their money back this time.

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    I dunno, 50-41 doesn't seem tempting to me--that's a pretty big gap among likelies. But I'm fascinated by the voting for or against question. I do wonder how that factors into intensity and turnout. (One can't help but recall 2004 and think that the numbers would have been a mirror image.)

    On that kicker question--yes, horrible. How could SurveyUSA stand behind it especially in light of the results. Doesn't make you feel especially confident in them, does it?

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    RE: Measure 85

    Perhaps the pollsters simply wanted to know whether the voters were even aware of what the measure was about.

    The measure will likely pass:
    - doesn't really affect the corporations since none can really bank on getting a kicker
    - doesn't affect individual voters
    - and "it's for the children" always will tug at the voters' heartstrings

    Consider the outcome of Measure 85 passing: only would assure that whatever corporate kicker money is made available, it is dedicated to education. But since there are no other guarantees for school funding, the legislature is still free to adjust the funds budget for schools down by the same amount.

    In other words, there is no guarantee that Measure 85 will increase education funding at all. In fact, funding for education could still decline if the legislature decides to fund other budget items.

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    Regarding the "are you for Romney or against Obama" question...

    I can recall a poll asking a similar question about John Kerry in 2004, and the results were similar to Romney's result in this poll. I have to think that it's a pretty sure sign that Romney's campaign is a sure loser.

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      Not necessarily...The cannabis movement voted against Dwight more than for Ellen. She's nice and all, but I didn't get threatening letters from her, like I did from Dwight Holton.

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    The measure 80 numbers still fall within the margin of error for most polls, so it is looking like a dead heat to me...Which means we have to convince the reasonable people in the middle, who are tired of being squeezed to pay for Prohibition while their kids go to school with 40 kids in a class.

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