Thursday, July 23, 2009

Those contrarian Iowegans

So I was perusing the blogosphere this morning and caught this tidbit from Joe.My.God. They have a poll showing that Jon Stewart is now the most trusted newscaster in the US. What caught my eye was that Iowa was the only state that voted in majority for Katie Couric. It kinda stood out as the only state of its color.

Since I am designated dog-sitter today and staying home to make sure the puppy doesn't try to kill herself as she recovers from her spaying, I thought I'd look at the other polls. You know, they had those nifty "next poll" and "previous poll" buttons just sitting there. They called to me.

Anyway, I soon noticed a trend. Iowa seemed to stand out in a lot of these very unscientific polls. So I started at the beginning with the question, "Should the US put North Korea back on the list of countries designated terrorist states?" and ran through 40 polls all the way to "Has President Obama been too vague about what he wants in a health-care reform plan?". An amazing 16 times, Iowa popped out as bucking the majority trend.

And often it wasn't simply that a slim majority that made the difference. We're talking completely polar opposites. In that first question for instance, Iowa was the only state that voted No in the majority. Nationwide the results were 78% yes to 22% No. In Iowa, it was 82% no to 18% yes.

Some of the polls were about celebrities. Like the one that asked whose late night show are you watching this week? Nationwide 58% said Stephen Colbert. Only two states voted in majority for someone else. Iowa was 84% for David Letterman. Okay, we now know that in one state at least, Letterman is still king.

The next one was a bit of a shocker. "Who would you vote for in Iran's Presidential election?" Nationwide the vote was 88% Mousavi and 12% Ahmadinejad. Iowa voted for Ahmadinejad by 91%. Let me say that again. 91%

The next question should come as no surprise. "Was Iran's election rigged?" 87% yes to 13% no nationwide. In Iowa, 82% said no.

Of course, they then turn around and contradict themselves by answering this question: "Should the Obama Administration take a stronger stance on the Iranian Electoral crisis?" Nationwide 76% said no and 24% said yes. In Iowa, 86% said yes, take a stronger stand. What's with that? Are they saying, we don't think it was rigged but since you do, you should do something about it?

70% of Americans don't believe the feds should bail out California. 86% of Iowans do.

65% of Americans think Gov. Mark Sanford should resign. 91% of Iowans think he should remain in office. That matches nicely with the 71% of Americans that think his wife, Jenny, should send him packing and the 80% of Iowans that think she should stand by her man. Only 7% of the country agrees with Iowa. More people think she should try e-Harmony that stay with the philanderer.

This segues beautifully to the 88% of Americans that think Sarah Palin's resignation will hurt her chances on running for President and the 83% of Iowans that think it will help.

When asked who should get custody of Michael Jackson's children 57% of Americans think they should go to their biological grandmother Katherine Jackson, 31% think they should stay with their mom and 12 % think they should go to the state. Guess where those 12% live? That's right. Iowa, where 81% think they should enter state run foster care. Who are these people? And even though they think the state should get his kids, they think Congress needs to pass a resolution honoring Jackson as a "global humanitarian". 86% of the country thinks its a stupid idea. 83% of Iowans think it great. And they're the only state to vote Yes in the majority.

Another question was about Bernie Madoff's sentencing. 54% think it was about right, 31% that it was too lenient and 15% that it was too harsh. Iowa was the only state that the majority thought the sentence was too harsh. By 91% they thought it was too harsh.

Iowa thinks Oprah should run for the Senate even though 56% of Americans think Jon Stewart should. At least they're not Wyoming where 50% think Bill O'Reilly should run. *shudder*

Oh, and apparently Bing is only popular in Iowa. Google is preferred by 58% of Americans. Iowa likes Bing. And they're the only state to vote Yes in majority.

Now, what does all this mean? Probably not a whole helluva lot. There were a couple of instances where the quality of the poll seemed poor. For instance, Time screwed up it's color key twice. On that Google v Bing poll? The whole country is red except for blue Iowa but the key says that Bing got 58% of the vote. On that global humanitarian nonsense, they got the numbers right but had the colors switched. If they can't get something that simple right, maybe they can't count either.

But still it makes you wonder. If Iowa is the only state to legalize gay marriage through the legislative process, are they really the bell weather we're hoping for? How can a state elect representatives that can pass this kind of legislation and then turn around and tell Time they would have voted for Ahmadinejad by an overwhelming majority? There's a serious disconnect there.

I guess what it really means is that polls can't be trusted. Certainly not these.


Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I'm not sure what this says about me, but I found this facsinating.

only a movie said...

Hmmm. I would want to know the sample size of those polled. Who knows? It could be 20 people.

True Blue Texan said...

@only a movie- the sample size varied pretty widely. In the question on who would you vote for in the Iraqi election, the poll got answers from 78 Iowans. The polls are unscientific.

My husband, who hails from Nebraska and gave me the term Iowegan, wondered if maybe there wasn't some small group of ne'er-do-wells who were setting out to skew things on purpose.

@ Psuedo- me, too

Aliceson said...

How very interesting! Especially the polls about Iran and MJ.

Sidhe said...

I agree, this was totally fascinating. I almost want to go to Iowa now. Almost.