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By       Message Bill Willers       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   3 comments

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The August 31 poll by Zogby International, a firm known for Internet- and phone-based polling, has McCain-Palin two points ahead of Obama-Biden following McCain's choice of Sarah Palin for VP.

Somehow the Zogby poll makes no sense to some observers. Mere hours earlier, Obama attracted 84,000 to hear a speech while McCain was trying to find some hands to shake hands in a fast food restaurant.

Herewith some words from Pollster John Zogby, CEO and president of Zogby International: "Governor Palin is not to be underestimated. Her strength is that she is authentic, a real mom, an outdoors person, a small town mayor. She has dealt with a small town city council, which alone could be preparation for staring down [Russian leader] Vladimir Putin." click here .

Palin, like a few million other American women, is an authentic outdoorsy mom who has dealt with a small town city council, this making her ready to lead the free world, etc. Sure.

Oh incidentally, John Zogby is the sole listed "senior fellow" at the Life Cycle Institute of The Catholic University of America (CUA). Here, from the website of the Life Cycle Institute: "The Life Cycle Center at The Catholic University of America is a community of scholars and researchers engaged in the academic analysis of contemporary public policies that concern Catholic social thought." .
Zogby, when he joined the Life Cycle Center in 2006, was praised by Stephen Schneck, the Center's director and chair of CUA's Department of Politics: "I'm absolutely delighted that John Zogby will be joining the Institute. John's presence reflects well on the emerging prominence of the Institute and serves as a boon to us in many practical regards. His appointment marks a milestone in the development of the Institute as a national center for public policy and Catholic social thought." click here .

If you, like myself, have ever been polled, you know how questions can be framed in such a way as to garner answers that would favor a desired poll result. That being so, I'm very mistrustful of "surprising" results from a firm dedicated to "policies that concern Catholic social thought", which social thought is most certainly conservative. Palin, who was baptized Catholic, but who was raised in a Pentecostal situation, has described herself "as pro-life as any candidate can be" click here . Her stance on issues dear to conservative Catholic social thought, should make her a darling of such as the Life Cycle Institute of Catholic University of America.

During political races, polls have become almost daily fare, and many accept them uncritically as mirroring actuality. The question as to how certain reported poll results might sway a certain segment of the population to vote apparently remains an open one. Nevertheless, when poll results seem so surprising as to be unreasonable, and where there are simultaneously signs of particular leanings on the part of the pollster, the critical mind begins to dwell on the subtle ways in which poll results might be used to favor a particular philosophy.


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Bill Willers is emeritus professor of biology, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

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