Wednesday, March 09, 2005


Now THIS Poll Grabbed My Attention

A recent national poll conducted throughout Indonesia may contain really, really, good news:

In the first substantial shift of public opinion in the Muslim world since the beginning of the United States’ global war on terrorism, more people in the world’s largest Muslim country now favor American efforts against terrorism than oppose them.

Sponsored by Terror Free Tomorrow, a non-profit organization, and conducted by an apparently well-regarded Indonesian polling firm, the poll links some startling numbers to the massive U.S. participation in the tsunami relief effort. The sponsor provides the following summary:

Key Findings of the Poll:

For the first time ever in a major Muslim nation, more people favor US-led efforts to fight terrorism than oppose them (40% to 36%). Importantly, those who oppose US efforts against terrorism have declined by half, from 72% in 2003 to just 36% today.

For the first time ever in a Muslim nation since 9/11, support for Osama Bin Laden has dropped significantly (58% favorable to just 23%).

65% of Indonesians now are more favorable to the United States because of the American response to the tsunami, with the highest percentage among people under 30.

Indeed, 71% of the people who express confidence in Bin Laden are now more favorable to the United States because of American aid to tsunami victims.

The Terror Free Tomorrow poll was conducted by the leading Indonesian pollster, Lembaga Survei Indonesia, and surveyed 1,200 adults nationwide with a margin of error of ± 2.9 percentage points.

Now, before the lefties start screaming about “fixed” polls, and the righties start crowing about winning hearts and minds, let’s all take a deep breath. The poll results are what they are, and while the tin-foil hat crowd will surely find a conspiracy here, one has to ask what a major Indonesian pollster would have to gain from participating in a fraud. The obvious answer is “nothing.” (I refer to the pollster as “apparently” well-regarded because, quite frankly, I don’t personally know one danged thing about Indonesian polling firms).

But, if you’re interested in a side order of facts to go along with that double order of opinion you’ve got there, take some time and go look for yourself. There is a tremendous amount of information here, including detailed methodology and actual poll questions.

As a general rule, the more internals, specifics and background a poll provides, the more attention it deserves and the more possible it is to evaluate its validity. (And yes, I do have some background and experience in public opinion polling, though I would certainly not consider myself an expert). One question I would have is whether the poll may have oversampled the rural population, but I don’t know enough about Indonesia to make that call. AND NEITHER DO YOU, so don’t jump to that conclusion or quote me on that. Go and look for yourself.

What the heck, if it doesn’t fit your prefabricated opinion and world view, you can just slap on your tin foil hat and go back to hunting for all those disenfranchised voters in Ohio.

Don't get too excited these people can just as easily start hating us again. Public opinions change drastically today.
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