Last time ThinkProgress examined the non-story that is President Obama’s faltering Jewish support — as yet unsupported by any concrete facts or on the record sources — it was to contrast two articles on the same day that said the exact opposite things: One had Obama’s Jewish support holding steady, and another recorded serious discontent among Jewish Democratic donors.
This week, a similar set of events occurred. Gallup released a poll showing that Jewish voters were not in fact fleeing Obama. Just a day later, conservative pollster Dick Morris released the results of a survey with a larger sample size that suggested Obama was indeed losing Jewish support.
Neoconservatives, who kicked off the Jews-Against-Obama meme in this election cycle, began to celebrate. The Republican Jewish Coalition gloated that “the GOP is making consistent inroads with the Jewish vote” and “Obama’s actions have ensured that a wide swath of the Jewish vote is ‘in play’ for 2012.” At Commentary, Alana Goodman compared the Gallup and Morris polls and predictably found Morris’s more compelling. She took up Morris’s question about Obama’s Israel policy and took heart:
And unlike the Gallup poll, Morris asked respondents their opinions on Obama’s Israel policy. Needless to say, the results were not encouraging for the president.
The only problem with these analyses? While the sample size in the Gallup poll was indeed small — perhaps too small, as Politico’s Ben Smith contended, to draw significant conclusions — no one bothered to apply the same methodological inquiries to Morris’s poll (other than noting the sample size).
Enter Adam Kredo of the Washington Jewish Week. Kredo, declaring himself a polling “nerd,” was curious about the exact questions Morris was asking American Jews, cross tabs of the results, and some other basic information on the poll. So he asked for the information from Morris’s people. The reply? Nada. “That, in itself,” writes Kredo, “is the first major issue.”
Kredo, calling the Morris poll “a completely partisan exercise devoid of scientific objectivity,” took issue with the construction of some questions:
He claims to have asked interviewees: Is President Obama is “too biased against Israel?” [...]
The question, though, is constructed in a completely partisan fashion — which is fine if you’re conducting a push poll or some other form of statistical hackery. It doesn’t fly, however, in a serious survey.
Really, how is a person supposed to answer this type of question? Is Obama “too biased,” not biased enough, or sufficiently biased? C-mon.
Kredo went on to dispute the poll question on Obama’s Israel policy — the results of which Commentary’s Goodman found so informative. Morris writes in his questions: “President Obama says that Israel should give up the land it occupied after the 1967 war except for some adjustments.”
Not quite. Obama said those lines should be the basis for negotiations and a settlement — as past administrations have — not an imposed solution as Morris presents it. Furthermore, Morris credulously states the opposing straw man view that “returning to the pre-’67 borders” would “make it easier” for “the Arabs” to “destroy Israel.”
Kredo called these renderings “inaccurate” and added, “The description of Obama’s policy doesn’t pass the sniff test.”
With neoconservatives furiously pushing the Jews-quit-Obama narrative, one might also smell a little smoke. But, for the meantime, there doesn’t appear to be any fire.