Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Comparing the IWF/Polling Company and Anzalone-Liszt Polls of Swing Districts

Just a day after the release of the Independent Women's Forum/Polling Company survey of swing congressional districts (see Monday's entry below), Anzalone-Liszt Research released a swing-district poll of its own, as described in this news release. Anzalone-Liszt polls for Democratic candidates and liberal interest groups, putting them at the other end of the political spectrum from IWF and the Polling Company. I have thus gone ahead and written a "compare and contrast" piece on the two polls (my thanks to Anzalone-Liszt for sending me a detailed topline report). To begin, I made the following chart (on which you can click to enlarge).

The IWF/Polling Company survey was conducted more recently than Anzalone-Liszt's, but the latter was in the field longer, thus potentially allowing for greater call-backs to initial non-respondents. Of perhaps greater significance, Anzalone-Liszt surveyed respondents in nearly three times as many congressional districts as did IWF/Polling Company. Only in Anzalone-Liszt's poll did residents of Republican-held districts appear to be included (see here for a description of the kinds of districts polled by Anzalone-Liszt, particularly one's held by members of the Rural Caucus).

The upshot of the above sampling and procedural differences is that Anzalone-Liszt's sample was somewhat less conservative and somewhat more moderate than IWF/Polling Company's. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, the Anzalone-Liszt survey showed higher support for health care reform than did IWF/Polling Company's. Anzalone-Liszt's figure of 42% support, in fact, is just slightly below the latest national average of 44%, as compiled by The notion of a swing district -- which I would define as one where the electoral competition between Democrats and Republicans is tight --is not necessarily synonymous with mirroring the average in national polls; however, it is not shocking that the two would coincide in some cases.

Although I found Anzalone-Liszt's question-wordings on the whole to have a more neutral tone than IWF/Polling Company's, there were some Anzalone-Liszt items that appeared to be colored by the firm's ideological leanings:

1. Among a set of provisions said to be in the bill, which were read to respondents to see if they would make them more likely to support the bill, was the following:

Cuts waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare and Medicaid and helps ensure that Medicare funds go to improving care instead of to insurance company profits.

I would consider this a glowing, too-good-to-be-true description.

2. A phrase in another item refers to how insurance companies "will be required to invest more in improving care instead of inflating their profits."

I'm not saying that insurance companies don't take unfair actions, but in a survey context, the phrase "inflating their profits" is pretty inflammatory.

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