Monday, May 23, 2011

Push Pollin' With Adam...

As mentioned in my last post, Tuesday the Costa Mesa City Council will begin their serious consideration of the 2011-2012 municipal budget. For those of you still working on my quiz, you can stop now and just go to City Hall at 4:30 or tune in to Costa Mesa TV and have much of the information explained to you.

The second item on the agenda is a brand new poll conducted for the Associ
ation of California Cities-Orange County, HERE, that recently gathered data in Orange County on the public's views on pension reform. You can read the PowerPoint presentation we will see tomorrow evening HERE.

It seems Costa Mesa has been awash in polls lately - even my pal, Chuck Cassity at the Chuckmeister Unleashed blog chimed in with his views of push polling to which he had recently been exposed. This one, while not Costa Mesa-specific, certainly addresses one of the current hot button issue in our town.


The polling organization, Probolsky Research, HERE, is operated by Adam
Probolsky, a major player in Orange County Republican circles. I've read some of his work product in the past and found it interesting how the results were exactly what his clients were looking for. Funny how that happens, isn't it? Perhaps we'll get a clue if we read the final sentence on their "About" page, which says, "Principal, Adam D. Probolsky always works closely with our clients - on every project - to deliver the right results."

For example, on his web site you'll find an entry dated January 1, 2010, which recaps the performance of clients in recent elections. Near the bottom of that little essay is a paragraph which includes this segment... "And, while Jim Righeimer’s campaign for Costa Mesa City Council fell short of victory, his near-win as a first-time candidate demonstrates broad community support and all but assures his success in obtaining a council seat in 2010.

I've read through the poll and if
you do the same, including reading the teeny little print on the bottom of each slide in the PowerPoint presentation which gives you each question that was asked. For example, one question was: "When many local government employees retire they can receive nearly 100% of their salary in retirement benefits. Do you support or oppose pension reform for local government employees that would cap the amount of benefits they receive when they are no longer working?" It won't surprise you that 72.6% of the respondents said "Support". I suspect this information has some value if you take it with a grain of salt. Considering the way the questions were asked, this is a classic "push poll". Still, I'm a little leery about giving too much weight to a poll that sampled only 325 people in a county of more than 3 million. Heck, Adam Probolsky may have just meandered through his cell phone contacts list for folks to poll.

Still, I'm looking forward to how this will be presented tomorrow. I'm going to look for a seat in the council chambers with a seat belt, because I have this feeling that there's going to be a whole lot of spinnin' going on. See you there...

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Anonymous Pentagon Hexagram said...

The standard definition of a push poll is one that is designed to influence opinion, rather than solicit results.

One key differences between push polls and standard polls is that a push poll is done at a much higher level than is needed to get a valid sample size.

The techniques in the Probolsky poll are not push polling, but rather standard techniques where messages are tested to see if they move voters' opinions.

You could produce different results with different questions. For example, if you included questions about whether people wanted young, healthy paramedics and police officers, or first responders who were in their sixties, you might get a different answer.

Or if you noted that over the last twenty years, 72% of the pension payments for public employees came from investments on employee and employer contributions, rather than tax dollars, you might get a very different result.

Or if you included the fact that Costa Mesa employees increased their own contributions to their pensions by 3.6 million a year and that contribution lowered the city's pension cost for this year.

5/24/2011 07:42:00 AM  
Blogger The Pot Stirrer said...

Pentagon Hexagram,
Thanks for your view... the comments from the crowd tonight might be interesting...

5/24/2011 12:28:00 PM  

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