Unfortunately, unless you are willing to dig in and check the cross tabs, you will be left with little clarity and a lot of spin. Fortunately, there are a few news and information outlets still permitted to operate on the internet who are willing to do the dirty work for you.
ABC News/Ipsos conducted poll number one. Their results are as follows:
In favor of defunding:
- 55% Democrats
- 57% African Americans
Rasmussen conducted poll number two. Their results show:
In favor of defunding:
- 29% Democrats
- 27% Blacks
You don’t have to be a poll expert to see that something is going on here. These numbers are too different. If you read just the ABC story in the news, you are left feeling that Americans think the idea of defunding the police is welcome. But if you read another article just from the Rasmussen results, you would think Americans are not too happy about the idea.
The Devil in the Details
Polls are tricky little devils. A poll must be examined closely. Some of the most vital information includes understanding the questioning, the demographic sampling, and the raw number of the sample.
The methodology of the ABC/Ipsos poll is quite unusual. They utilize a “web-enabled KnowledgePanel®,” which they claim is the “most well-established online panel that is representative of the adult U.S. population.” They primarily recruit a cross-section of people based on U.S. mail delivery. The results are logged onto the internet, and if someone in their sample does not have internet access, they “provide a tablet and internet connection at no cost to the panel member.” This poll sampled 686 people age 18 or older. The fine print tells the reader that the survey carries a 95% confidence level with a sampling error of plus or minus 4.2%
Meanwhile, over at Rasmussen, a much more traditional method was used to survey Americans on the question of defunding the police. They use the classic automated survey utilized for years by most of the major pollsters. The questions are fed into a digital system, and phone numbers are selected randomly. The raw data is then processed and divided into demographic categories. Finally, the poll is weighted through a complex system to ensure the survey sample is representative of the American public. This is a somewhat simplistic explanation of how the survey is conducted – but you get the picture.
The thousand people surveyed by Rasmussen is an often-used number for sampling within the world of pollsters. For this poll, Rasmussen lists a 95% level of confidence – which is the same as ABC/Ipsos; however, the Rasmussen margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points. This spells out a 1.2% error disparity between the two polls, and most polling professionals will tell you that the smaller the sample, the greater the possibility for error. This is why the ABC/Ipsos poll should be suspect.
So, there you have it, folks. For the betting man, you would do well to put your money on Rasmussen. And the next time someone says that Americans by a large number want to defund the police – don’t argue, just ask them to show you how the poll was conducted, how many people were sampled, and what methodology was used in performing the survey.