J Street’s Absurd Manipulation of Poll Data

J Street is one of the worst offenders I have ever seen when it comes to misrepresenting statistics for political purposes. On election night, it conducted a poll about which it is has published conclusions.
Here’s what J Street says about support for an Iran deal

And here’s what it says about support for an “Active” US role in the peace process

J Street also said in an email sent out to supporters that by 2 to 1 American Jews feel that Netanyahu’s policies are hurting the US-Israel relationship.
I strongly urge those concerned to look at the actual poll upon which its recent Tweets and statement are based, but I will do my best to offer insights on the poll itself. It can be found at this link or at the address below.
Let’s start with the “Active Role” question. Here is the poll question and results.
Q.32 Now, something different. Do you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in
helping the parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….43
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..42
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..10
Strongly oppose ………………………………………………………………6
Total Support……………………………………………………………….85
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..15
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….69
What does “SOMEWHAT SUPPORT” mean? If that means, NOT PRESSURING ISRAEL. Then you could add to it “Somewhat Oppose” and “Strongly Oppose” and conclude that 57% oppose the pressuring of Israel that J Street supports. But wait a minute! Helping the parties could be primarily pressuring the Palestinians and barely criticizing the Israelis! So even concluding that 43% support the kind of role for which J Street advocates would be incorrect!
The next four questions are not only more telling, but DAMNING:
Q.33 (SPLIT A) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements
with both the Israelis and the Arabs?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..41
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..18
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..10
Total Support……………………………………………………………….72
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..28
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….45
(ref:USROLEB)
[400 Respondents]
Q.34 (SPLIT B) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States publicly stating its disagreements
with Israel?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….17
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..31
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..28
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..24
Total Support……………………………………………………………….48
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..52
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….-3
Respondents clearly do not strongly support publicly criticizing Israel, much less pressuring Israel as is seen in question 36 below.
Q.35 (SPLIT A) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on both the
Israelis and Arabs to make the compromises necessary to achieve peace?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..42
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..16
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..10
Total Support……………………………………………………………….74
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..26
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….48
(ref:USROLEC)
[400 Respondents]
Q.36 (SPLIT B) Would you support or oppose the United States playing an active role in helping the
parties to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict if it meant the United States exerting pressure on Israel to make
the compromises necessary to achieve peace?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….19
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..28
Somewhat oppose …………………………………………………………..29
Strongly oppose ……………………………………………………………..24
Total Support……………………………………………………………….46
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..54
Support – Oppose ………………………………………………………….-8
(ref:USROLEC1)
And look at the questions about the Gaza war!
Q.38 Do you approve or disapprove of Israel’s military action, known as Operation Protective Edge, that
took place in Gaza this summer?
Total
Strongly approve…………………………………………………………….47
Somewhat approve………………………………………………………….33
Somewhat disapprove………………………………………………………15
Strongly disapprove …………………………………………………………5
Total Approve ………………………………………………………………80
Total Disapprove…………………………………………………………..20
Approve – Disapprove ……………………………………………………61
(ref:PEAPP)
Q.39 Regardless of whether you approve or disapprove of the military action that Israel took in Gaza this
summer, do you think it made Israel more secure, less secure, or had no impact on Israel’s security?
Total
More secure…………………………………………………………………..55
Less secure ……………………………………………………………………14
No impact……………………………………………………………………..31
More secure – Less secure……………………………………………….41
80% strongly or somewhat approve with Israel’s actions in the Gaza war with most of those being “STRONGLY Approve.”
Now for another “Aha!” moment! J Street said 84% of respondents supported A DEAL WITH IRAN. Look at the poll question below! J Street’s poll question isn’t even remotely close to how they presented the data!!! They published the data as if the question were for ANY deal. This question if for a highly restrictive deal!
Q.43 Now, imagine that the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, China, Russia, and Iran reach a final
agreement, which restricts Iran’s enrichment of uranium to levels that are suitable for civilian energy
purposes only, and places full-time international inspectors at Iranian nuclear facilities to make sure that
Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. Under this agreement, the United States and our allies will reduce
sanctions on Iran as Iran meets the compliance benchmarks of the agreement. Would you support or
oppose this agreement?
Total
Strongly support …………………………………………………………….32
Somewhat support…………………………………………………………..52
Somewhat oppose ……………………………………………………………9
Strongly oppose ………………………………………………………………6
Total Support……………………………………………………………….84
Total Oppose ………………………………………………………………..16
Support – Oppose …….
And regarding Netanyahu’s policies and harm to US-Israel relations, here’s the real question and its responses.
Q.49 Now, something different. Do you think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies have helped
Israel’s relations with the United States, hurt Israel’s relations with the United States, or had no impact on
Israel’s relations with the United States?
Total
Helped …………………………………………………………………………21
Hurt …………………………………………………………………………….40
No impact……………………………………………………………………..40
Helped – Hurt…………..
This data means that 61% feel that Netanyahu’s policies either have improved relations or had no impact versus only roughly 40% who disagree and there is no measure of the extent of that disagreement. In other words, there is no way to know how much people feel like Netanyahu’s policies have harmed the relationship. Furthermore, a blatantly obvious question is missing. Where is the question about whether or not they feel that President Obama’s policies have helped, hurt, or had no impact on the US-Israel relationship? That might have been interesting to know, unless they deliberately didn’t want to know the answer. My guess is that many people will put some blame on both sides if given the option.
This poll was conducted and then interpreted in such a way as to lead to false and misleading conclusions about the views of the American Jewish community regarding Israel. It is shameful.
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2 Responses to J Street’s Absurd Manipulation of Poll Data

  1. Karen says:

    What constructive alternatives to J Street’s poll are there available to us? A poll that is worded more clearly? How do we make that happen?

    • A couple of things. First, polls are generally done for two reasons: to substantiate an advocacy position or to determine what position an organization or person should take. J Street does its polling for the first of those two reasons and therefore seeks to create polls that allow it to argue that its positions are supported- ie reading “Somewhat support” as if it were the same as “Strongly support” and creating questions that promote “somewhat support” as the most likely answer. For example, I could create a poll question that would result in a big majority supporting bombing Iran tomorrow, if that’s what I wanted to do. I could ask, for example, “Should it be argued that Iran has been conducting nuclear weapons research in secret and continues to develop its nuclear weapons program so that it could create a nuclear bomb which it could use against Israel or even deliver to targets in America such as New York City within the very near future, I would advocate for US immediate US military action to stop this from occurring.” Do you Strongly Support this statement? Somewhat support this statement? ETC… Somewhat would include anyone who might have reservations about the evidence, might want to seek other alternatives first, etc… Such a poll question would have huge support. Any polling company wishing to support an advocacy position can manipulate polling questions with great effect. Polls intended to support advocacy positions might as well tell you that they are going to misrepresent your answers before they ask the questions. For unbiased polls you have to have people not invested in eliciting certain answers.

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