The PJ Tatler

Stupid Polling Tricks: Katrina Edition

Here’s today’s “ZOMG those stupid Republicans” story at Talking Points Memo (repeated of course at Huffington Post and by any number of querulous and gullible people on Facebook:

A significant chunk of Louisiana Republicans evidently believe that President Barack Obama is to blame for the poor response to the hurricane that ravaged their state more than three years before he took office.

The latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling, provided exclusively to TPM, showed an eye-popping divide among Republicans in the Bayou State when it comes to accountability for the government’s post-Katrina blunders.

Twenty-eight percent said they think former President George W. Bush, who was in office at the time, was more responsible for the poor federal response while 29 percent said Obama, who was still a freshman U.S. Senator when the storm battered the Gulf Coast in 2005, was more responsible. Nearly half of Louisiana Republicans — 44 percent — said they aren’t sure who to blame.

Have a look at the poll. The question was “Who do you think was more responsible for the poor response to Hurricane Katrina: George W.Bush or Barack Obama?” The choices given were Obama, Bush, and don’t know. It’s the only question other than preference in the primary in a questionnaire given to Republican primary voters. Now, it doesn’t include either Kathleen Blanco, who lost her job after the states response sucked, it doesn’t include the crooked former mayor Ray Nagin, and it doesn’t make any sort of distinction about the time, so it could be read as the total response — and a little googling reveals that (1) there are still regular stories about the Federal governments weaknesses now and (2) that Obama has been President for almost five years now.

In other words, it was a poll question either completely incompetently phrased or carefully crafted to make sure they got exactly the story that people are falling for today.