Farah: John Zogby gets different results in his survey

Maher, Steve (SD-MS) SMAHER at GI.COM
Tue Feb 10 18:15:00 MST 1998

Tuesday, February 10, 1998
from CAS mail list

Are Clinton polls accurate?

Zogby gets different results in his survey

By Joseph Farah

Are national public opinion polls showing President Clinton with
approval ratings of 70 percent and higher accurately reflecting the
views of the American people?

John Zogby, the only pollster who called the 1996 presidential election
to the exact percentage of victory, once again is at odds with some of
his colleagues.

His latest tracking polls on President Clinton show, like most other
national surveys, Clinton?s support rising each day of the crisis. But
the increases are not nearly as dramatic in Zogby?s samplings. He found
in a survey conducted Jan. 26 through Jan. 30:

* the president?s job performance rating rose from 55.8 percent to 62.3
percent. His negative declined to 37.1 percent.

* His favorable rating -- previously as high as 66.2 percent -- declined
to only 49 percent the first day of polling, then steadily rebounded to
58.5 percent.

* Slightly fewer voters were more likely to believe Monica Lewinsky at
the end of the tracking (28.2) than at the beginning (30.9 percent),
while more were willing to believe the president (42.1 percent to 43.9

* By the end of the week, a slight majority of voters (51.8 percent)
were inclined to let the president complete his term even if there is
evidence that he has lied in sworn testimony, compared with 43.2 percent
who felt he should leave office.

Zogby?s numbers, while still surprisingly good for a Clinton camp
beleaguered by scandal, are starkly different from some other showing
the president?s approval rating nearing 90 percent. But Zogby offers a
reasonable explanation for the trend consistent in all the surveys.

?I must admit that these numbers are not what many of us may have
expected,? he said. ?Thus, here is an opportunity to reflect on the poll
numbers and what they mean. In short, I think we may have misunderstood
the American voters. The polling numbers do not, as some have suggested,
show a lack of a sense of moral outrage. Nor do they suggest that the
voters are so myopic that they do not care about the private life of
their president as long as the economy is sound and the nation is at

Zogby attributes the reaction to a ?fundamental sense of fairness? in
the American people. Without hearing Lewinsky herself, they are willing
to give the president the benefit of the doubt. He also points out that
Americans have a great respect for the institution of the presidency and
recalls that President Nixon?s poll numbers were quite high almost until
the day he resigned during the Watergate scandal.

Zogby?s 1996 track record made him something of a media star. From early
on in the campaign, his polls predicted Clinton would win by a much
smaller margin than any of the other major pollsters were showing.
Ultimately, he not only got Clinton?s eight-point margin of victory
right, but was the only pollster who got the numbers for Bob Dole and
Ross Perot right as well.

While the CBS/New York Times final poll predicted Clinton would win by
18 points, Zogby projected Clinton would win 49 percent, Bob Dole 41
percent, Ross Perot 8 percent and 2 percent for others. Those were the
exact results on election day.

Joseph Farah is editor of the Internet newspaper WorldNetDaily.com and
executive director of the Western Journalism Center, an independent
group of investigative reporters.

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