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Zogby's Magic Dust

Joel Mowbray looks at the integrity issues behind a new survey about Wal Mart by John Zogby. Mowbray points out that Zogby fails to disclose that he's been paid nearly $90,000 to serve as an expert witness for individuals suing Wal-Mart. From the column:

As any pollster can attest, trust is the key issue, as polling -- no matter how transparent or scientific it purports to be -- hinges on the credibility of the wizard behind the curtain. Pollsters are masters of subtle manipulation, and small changes in wording can -- and often do -- yield substantially different results. Or questions can be asked in such a way that produce ambiguous results that can be interpreted in many different fashions.

Precisely because trust is so important, WakeUpWalMart.com hired Mr. Zogby to give its poll bashing Wal-Mart extra panache and an air of instant credibility. In a phone interview, WakeUpWalMart.com spokesman Chris Kofinis adamantly maintained that the poll was beyond reproach because Mr. Zogby is "an independent." Which, not coincidentally, is exactly how the pollster described himself -- again and again and again.

But how "independent" is it to, as Mr. Kofinis described it, draft poll questions "in consultation with" WakeUpWalMart.com, even though the reason Zogby polls are held in higher esteem is because they perceived to be more objective, more "independent?" And by Mr. Zogby's own admission, WakeUpWalMart.com wrote the press release that he put his company's name on and subsequently sent out. Mr. Kofinis knew this wouldn't look good, and he didn't fess up that his group wrote the Zogby press release until he was told that Mr. Zogby admitted it.

...Without the Zogby magic dust sprinkled on the poll, most would see it as yet another grenade lobbed at Wal-Mart by the unions, who have, thus far, failed to push the retailer's million-plus employees into their ranks. The tantalizing prospect of landing billions in new compulsory dues has sprung Big Labor into action, crafting a campaign to give Wal-Mart a black eye and, they hope, forcing the retailer into submission.

Zogby, it should be recalled, predicted a Kerry landslide, and Tom Delay's defeat in 2002, neither of which occurred.


Comments (9)

"A fact that no some and ."... (Below threshold)
Charlie (Colorado):

"A fact that no some and ." ?

What?

[Ed - Word fart. That's whats happens when you make one sentence out of two then forget to remove the excess words. Fixed.]

I'm with Charlie for once! ... (Below threshold)
mcg:

I'm with Charlie for once! :)

Zogby doesn't give expert t... (Below threshold)
George:

Zogby doesn't give expert testimony and poll because
it is his hobby. It is his livlihood. Polls cost
money. His services cost money. There's really not
much here.

Zogby has a good reputation for polling. There is
no data to suggest that there is anything wrong
with his Wal-Mart poll.

I see nobody actually challenging the poll data;
they are smearing the messenger. When you can
show that the poll results don't agree with other
scientific polls, then you can suggest that Zogby's
background may provide a motive. Until then, this
is a cheap shot.

By the way, the article say... (Below threshold)
George:

By the way, the article says that Zogby took
money from Republicans for services -- and, as you
point out, he picked Kerry to win. Do you think
that Republican money influenced that pick?

Zogby will take anybody's and everbody's money.
When a party (political or otherwise) hires him for
a poll, do they expect him to skew the results in
their favor? I don't think so.

Now, there is no denying that what questions are
asked affect the results of a poll. I don't
see anybody dissecting the questions -- just the
pollster.

How capitalism is killing c... (Below threshold)

How capitalism is killing capitalism...

Perhaps only tangentally re... (Below threshold)

Perhaps only tangentally related: noticed the "this election was stolen!" arguments based on differences between exit poll results and vote counts? I've seen a _lot_ of people arguing that disparity as proof that elections were rigged, but i have yet to see anyone suggesting that the exit poll data might've been biased...

Zogby did more than "predic... (Below threshold)

Zogby did more than "predict" a Kerry landslide. He ANNOUNCED a Kerry landslide while polls were still open throughout the country, at about 5:30pm EST on Election Day 2004. Absent malice it was a profound lapse in judgement from someone trusted as a data source by many media organizations. But whether he was trying to suppress Republican turnout or not, his findings should no longer be taken at face value.

I think George is addressin... (Below threshold)
Sweetie:

I think George is addressing Zogby saying the race was over, with Kerry the winner, back in May of 2004 - some six months before the election and before the conventions had even been held. If we concede that Zogby isn't dumb, can anyone offer an explanation why he would do something so dumb beyond partisanship?

I'm not saying the content of his prediction was dumb but rather the fact that he made a prediction at all is the evidence of something that may not be dumb but is in the same family.

The unions need to be caref... (Below threshold)
Timothy:

The unions need to be careful not to kill another goose laying golden eggs. Wal-Mart has almost enough international operations to close any and all stores in the US.

Should Wal-Mart cease US operations, where will the poor shop? K-mart is a shadow of itself and Target has upscaled to higher priced merchandise.

Where will Wal-Mart's 100,000 plus former employees be employed? Wal-Mart is now the US largest private employer.

The unions have created enough trouble in Michigan without screwing up yet another working business.




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