Dissecting Reuters' slanted poll on Iran: When did Reuters become Pravda?

The Reuters poll on American views of the Iran nuclear deal may not be wrong, but they are certainly not right. Photo: Pravda/Lenin poster

NEW YORK, November 27, 2013 — A seemingly significant story today from Reuters deserves close inspection. According to the headline: “Americans back Iran deal by 2-to-1 margin: Reuters/Ipsos poll”.

Really?

Note first, that the survey reached out to just 591 persons and that it is was “weighted” by some process to become “representative” of the American population.

Might there be problems inherent in taking such a small sample, or in “weighting” sample results?

Moreover, Reuters/Ipsos solicited opinions on the Iran deal after posing four other questions. Answers to the first four questions seem important to digest.

Only one-third of respondents to question 1 believe that Israel treats her citizens best, while an equal proportion are “not sure” which of the following named countries do: Israel, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, and Syria”. A further 20% believes that none of these named countries in the Middle East treats citizens best.

Reuters/Ipsos found an odd group to contact for doing their research. The group also appears woefully uninformed concerning recent developments and the course of history in the Middle East.

It gets worse.

Answers to question 2 reveal that 26% of respondents are “not sure” while 6% believe that none of 7 named countries above poses the biggest threat in the Middle East to the United States and our allies.

One doubts whether some respondents were thinking here about Libya (not named in the survey) because they understand how rapidly that country descends towards hell thanks to U.S. intervention there.

Before answering question 3, respondents learn that “diplomatic relations between the United States and Iran are substantively improving”.

Granted, the survey was taken between November 24 and 26, 2013, before the Iranian government publicly accused the White House of lying in its official summary of deal terms.

At the moment, answers to question 3 seem irrelevant; however, only 36% thought at survey time that the United States “was right to improve diplomatic relations with Iran”, while 37% thought our government should “hold a hard line and maintain or expand current sanctions” and 28% were “unsure”.

One wonders how many of the respondents thought the Middle East was somewhere near Springfield, Massachusetts.

Answers to question 4 are striking–63% of respondents thought Iran’s nuclear program was for weapons development, while just 6% thought the program was for peaceful, energy-related purposes and a further 31% were “not sure”.

As Homer Simpson might say, “doh?”

By a 10-1 margin, respondents thought Iran was rushing to develop nuclear weapons, yet by a 2-1 margin, they supported the Obama Administration’s reported diplomatic triumph.

Not so fast.

It is true that 44% of respondents favored the deal, while 22% apparently opposed it; however, 34% were “unsure”. So, another way to characterize survey results, is that respondents are either unsure or against the latest “deal” with Iran by an overwhelming majority of 56% to 44%.

By comparison, President Obama won re-election in 2012 by a far smaller margin in the popular vote count, of 51.1% to 47.2% and he supposedly won a mandate.

We could discuss another 5 questions in the survey. Instead, here are 5 new questions to mull as you digest your Thanksgiving meal.

Does the American public have a right to know what was actually “agreed” with Iran?

How much do Senators and Congressmen know full details concerning the latest agreement and when were they briefed?

Does our latest deal with Iran restrict that nation’s nuclear activities with other countries including North Korea and with private contractors?

With so many unanswered questions still outstanding concerning major initiatives rushed upon us, does the Obama Administration still deserve benefit of the doubt?

Or, might it be past time for our “free press” to exercise independent judgment and demand verifiable answers to important questions?


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Charles Ortel

Charles Ortel became a lapsed member of the silent majority in August 2007 when he began alerting the public to dangers posed by structural changes in the global economy. Since then, Charles has appeared in the print, radio and television media with increasing frequency. Brass Tacks will attempt to offer non-partisan perspective on factors contributing to the unresolved, burgeoning crisis and discuss potential solutions. Graduated from Horace Mann School, Yale College and Harvard Business School, Charles tries to learn each day.  

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