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Published on August 10th, 2009 | by Daniel Luban

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Where Dick Morris Breaks with Reality

By Eli Clifton and Daniel Luban

On Friday former Clinton adviser Dick Morris published an article in the New York Post–titled Where Bam Breaks with Reality–claiming that a new poll found that 52-percent of Jewish Democrats agree with the ”Israeli government view” that, ”the Arabs will never live in peace with Israel and that giving them a nation of their own will just make them stronger,” while only 20-percent agreed with the ”Obama view” that, ””if Israel could settle its dispute with the Palestinian refugees and give them a nation of their own, that the Arabs would live in peace with Israel.”

These findings (along with other similar statistics purporting to show Jewish Democrats’ deep skepticism about the peace process) come in stark contrast to most other polling of American Jewish attitudes. In March 2009, for instance, J Street found that American Jews as a whole support a two-state solution by the overwhelming margin of 76 to 24 percent, and that they also approve overwhelmingly of Barack Obama. Since the J Street poll measured American Jews as a whole (both Democrats and Republicans) one would expect this support to increase once only Democrats are polled.

Morris’s jarring data, however, begin to make sense once we look at the background to the poll. The sponsors of the poll—The Traditional Values Coalition—have a history of conducting questionable research and have a clear political agenda.

The Coalition’s recent reports have included: The Homosexual Movement And Pedophilia; Causes and Cures Of Homosexuality And Gender Identity Disorders; and Planned Parenthood’s Child Molester Cover Up EXPOSED!.

The actual pollster—Global Marketing Research Services—has its own shady track record.

Its sister company—On Track Research—has a history of push-polling and refusing to remove numbers from their call lists.

According to Morris and Eileen McGann, his wife, the poll also found that Jewish Democrats: supported building in existing settlements; think Obama is ”naïve” for thinking peace can be made with the Arabs; disagree that the West Bank should be given back to the Palestinians in exchange for peace; and think Iran’s procurement of a nuclear weapon will lead to a nuclear attack on Israel.

Interesting findings, but is Dick Morris willfully misleading his readers or just failing to perform due-diligence on his sources? Dick Morris, a master political operative, should understand the difference between the two, but he probably also knows the value in presenting polling data as ”facts” while choosing to overlook the source of the data.

Regardless of Morris’ motivations the information about the poll’s sponsors and the pollsters should cast serious doubt on his conclusion that ”the fervency of (Jewish Democat’s) support for Israel suggests that Obama may suffer real political damage among a core Democratic constituency if he continues his current policies.”

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2 Responses to Where Dick Morris Breaks with Reality

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  1. avatar Jon Harrison says:

    Having worked in polling, I can tell you that one can obtain any result one wants by manipulating the questions and how they are asked. No surprises here. Why would anyone take Dick Morris seriously, anyway? Arf, arf!

  2. avatar scott says:

    I recently was polled by a computer, was only allowed to give yes or no answers to the questions. The computer said, failure to give a yes or no would result in ending the poll. I answered the questions though I wished to qualify every answer I gave.

    I don’t like either party much, don’t think much of the media generally. I see the difference between the rhetoric and the deed. I love policy. Where we subsidize a market is as important as whether we should subsidize it. If we can subsidize without perverting the market, I see that as preferable to subsidy generally. For subsidy at the wrong point in the market might just exacerbate the trouble.

    Polls too often are worthless.


About the Author

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Daniel Luban is a postdoctoral associate at Yale University. He holds a PhD in politics from the University of Chicago and was formerly a correspondent in the Washington bureau of Inter Press Service.



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