Friday, December 11, 2009

Can you trust this poll?

Last summer an independent poll was commissioned and it was found that only around 4% of Israelis believed that Obama was pro-Israel, whereas 51% considered him pro-Palestinian.

Obama was reportedly upset by his low ratings.

A new poll came out yesterday, with very different results. In that poll, 40% of Israelis view Obama positively, while only 39% view him negatively.

(Among US Jews 36% said he supports Israel while 60% who say he doesn't.)

The obvious question here is, "Why did so many so many Israeli Jews suddenly change their opinion?"

But the real question to ask is, "Did they really did change their position?"

According to the Jerusalem Post:
pollster Jim Gerstein, who conducted the survey on behalf of the progressive New America Foundation think tank, said that the numbers indicate that Obama has much higher approval ratings among the Israeli public than is generally believed.

What the Jerusalem Post forgot to mention is that pollster Jim Gerstein is a founding director (and Vice President) of JStreet as well as a board member of American Friends for Peace Now.

It's not really the JP's fault, as for the longest time, the JStreet site didn't mention these less than causal connections either.

And it probably wouldn't have if an intrepid investigative reporter hadn't exposed it.

JStreet used Gerstein's company for all their polls, yet at that time Commentary Magazine had to dig down all the way to JStreet's IRS 990 form to find the hidden connections between Gerstein and JStreet.

Since being exposed, JStreet added a disclaimer to their Website:
J Street's polling is compromised by the fact that its pollster Jim Gerstein serves on its Board of Directors (JoeSettler: and on the board of other radical Left organizations).

J Street publicly releases the survey methodology, composition of the sample, and the full question wording for our polls of American Jews. This full disclosure and transparency reflects J Street's commitment to opening up its research to professional scrutiny and is unparalleled among other organizations conducting public opinion research of American Jews.

Some who disagree with J Street's views choose to attack the credibility of our pollster, rather than debate the merits of our opinions. But the fact that Jim Gerstein is a founding member of J Street's Board of Directors doesn't change the views of Jewish Americans on Israel....
[Gerstein] lived in Israel in the late 1990s, where he was a member of Ehud Barak's polling and communications team, and he currently serves as Vice President of the board of the American Friends of the Yitzhak Rabin Center and on the board of Americans for Peace Now.
Unfortunately that statement/clarification certainly doesn't help their case when it comes to Israel, as because as Commentary Magazine pointed out,
So J Street not only commissions polls—it writes the questions, conducts them, analyzes the results, and then carries out promotional campaigns with the findings. If you were wondering how it was possible that J Street could repeatedly produce “polling data” that almost perfectly complements the group’s political agenda, now we have one important clue.
And it appears that Commentary Magazine wasn't even aware of the time of Gerstein's affiliations with other radical Leftwing organizations.

Does this mean that all polls about Israel and Jewish viewpoints by Jim Gerstein are tainted?

I leave that for you to decide, but I certainly think so.

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Michael Sedley said...

With all polls, the results depend on how the questions are worded.
The extracts that you quote don't show the wording for either poll.

For example, the following questions would get very different results:

Do you believe that the Obama Administration will continue the long-standing American tradition of showing support for Israel?

Do you believe that compared to the previous administration, Obama has more sympathy for the Palestinian Cause.

Tell me what results you want for your survey and I'll come up with questions that will get the result.

Anonymous said...

Nothing new or particularly interesting here (or unique to one side of the political spectrum).

"Opinion Polls: Getting the results you want"

Shabbat shalom and Chanukah Sameach.

Yellow Boy

jonathan becker said...

scumbags. i'm glad you're writing about them and i don't have to. feh!

Soccer Dad said...

Noah Pollak who exposed Gerstein has written about the latest poll. He makes some interesting observations, though I think he could have been a lot toughter on Gerstein. The questions were designed elicit responses supportive of J-Street's agenda.

NormanF said...

Asking Israelis whether they like Obama is different from asking them whether they approve of his policies. My bet is between 4% and 10% of Israelis back his policies. So what that more Israelis like Obama? That's completely irrelevant and in the real world, Israelis elected a government that is pursuing policies different from those advocated by the Obama Administration and its Jewish J-Street sidekick.

Anonymous said...


Jameel, I wonder if you caught this.....?

--Ma Sands

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