Powered by WebAds

Sunday, August 09, 2009

How to fix a poll

When you're an upstart with an unpopular position and you're trying to convince people that your position is mainstream, sometimes you have to do more than phrase the questions properly. Sometimes you need to pick the pollster properly. Noah Pollak explains (Hat Tip: Shmuel Rosner via Jeff Jacoby's Twitter page).

J Street’s polls have always been conducted by Jim Gerstein, who runs a far-Left progressive political consultancy in Washington. As J Street says on its polling pages, “Survey analysis from Jim Gerstein, Principal at Gerstein | Agne, the firm that commissioned the poll.”

Now J Street is an advocacy organization, not a newspaper or a judge, so it need not police its conflicts of interest with fastidious rigor. But Jim Gerstein is not simply a principal at the firm that conducts polls for J Street. He was J Street’s vice president.

You’d never know this from J Street’s staff page or the voluptuous promotion that accompanies the release of a J Street poll. You wouldn’t know it from all the mentions of Gerstein on J Street’s website, in which he is always portrayed as an independent actor. In order to know that he was J Street’s founding vice president, you’d have to look at J Street’s 990 IRS form.

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.

Hmmm.

Here's some more information about Jim Gerstein:
Jim Gerstein serves as an adviser to Middle East Progress and has extensive experience in strategic consulting, progressive American politics, and Middle East peace efforts.

...

During the 1999 Israeli Prime Ministerial campaign, Gerstein took a leave of absence from the Center to join Ehud Barak’s American consulting team, where he served as the team’s person on the ground and oversaw the polling, paid media, and message development for the Barak campaign. In the following year, Gerstein established a non-profit counterpart for the Center, called the Institute for Peace and Security which provided financial, organizational, and strategic support for various Arab-Israeli projects, including meetings between retired generals from Israel and Arab countries, peace initiatives with Israeli business leaders, and dialogues between Jewish and Arab municipal leaders in Israel.
Here's another one:
Since 2001, Gerstein has served as the Executive Director of Democracy Corps, a non-profit organization founded by Democratic strategists James Carville, Stan Greenberg, and Bob Shrum that conducts public opinion research and provides strategic advice to Democrats and progressive organizations [Carville was dispatched by then-President Clinton to bring about Ehud Barak's election - and Binyamin Netanyahu's defeat - in the 1999 Israeli elections. CiJ] . Under Gerstein's leadership, the organization increased its annual budget seven-fold, initiated numerous collaborations with progressive groups, and dramatically increased its impact on the political debate. Prior to his work with Democracy Corps, Gerstein was the Executive Director of the non-profit Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation where he led public education campaigns, congressional visits to the Middle East, and convened Middle East diplomats in the United States for meetings with political and business leaders.

...

Mr. Gerstein has also worked on several American political campaigns and held different positions in the Democratic Party. In 1992, he worked on the field campaign for Carol Moseley Braun's successful run for the U.S. Senate in Illinois. He later moved to Washington, DC where he became the Deputy Director for Jewish Affairs at the Democratic National Committee. In 1996, Mr. Gerstein worked in the press office for the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and then directed the Clinton/Gore campaign for the north side of Chicago and northern Illinois.

Mr. Gerstein received an M.A. in Middle East History at Tel Aviv University and a B.A. in philosophy at Colgate University. He grew up in the Chicago area and today resides in Washington, DC with his wife Aliza and sons Emmitt and Tomer.
And another:
Gerstein spent the year 2000 living in Israel where he established a counterpart for the Center, called the Institute for Peace and Security. The Institute provided financial, organizational, and strategic support for various Arab-Israeli projects, including meetings between retired generals from Israel and the Arab world, peace initiatives with Arab and Israeli business leaders, and dialogues between Jewish and Arab municipal leaders in Israel.
You also might want to have a look at this. A lot of names there will ring a bell.

Jim Gerstein sounds like Barack Obama's Jewish pollster and not just J Street's. And he even grew up in Chicago.

What could go wrong?

2 Comments:

At 1:44 AM, Blogger SC&A said...

Great catch.

 
At 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

http://grantfoundation.net

 

Post a Comment

<< Home

Google