Ask Different Questions, You’ll Get Different Results

by Dan Ward

Once the search for MH 370 is over, CNN might want to search next for its polling credibility.

Its latest CNN/ORC Internal Survey asks voters entirely different questions based on their political views.

Since early this year, CNN has been asking voters who they would most likely support for president in 2016.  Republican and Republican-leaning voters are asked for first and second choices among a list of 10 potential candidates, with an option to name another candidate. Democrat and Democrat-leaning voters are asked to choose between Hillary Clinton and this impressive list of contenders:  “More Liberal Democrat; More Conservative Democrat.”  No option for another choice.

Is it any wonder that Jeb Bush and his fellow Republicans show support in the teens while Clinton (even with falling numbers) is showing support from more than 60 percent of voters?

To draw a valid comparison, CNN should either ask all voters to choose between unnamed “more conservative or liberal” candidates, or ask all voters to choose between a list of potential contenders.

CNN Polling Director Keating Holland says, “The poll suggests that some rank and file Democrats are shopping for an alternative but have not found one yet in the list of potential candidates offered to them in other polls.”  Here’s a question … why didn’t you offer that list in your poll?

The lesson for those of us who communicate for a living and rely on research to drive strategy – if you’re going to draw conclusions from research, you owe it to your companies and clients to ask questions that provide valid comparisons.  Anything less is a disservice.

One Response to Ask Different Questions, You’ll Get Different Results

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