Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Start With a Biased Sample...

by Tom Bozzo

...get a "striking" answer.

UW law prof and blogger Ann Althouse polls her readership as to whether the presidential choice should be made on the basis of the connections (or lack thereof) Bush and Kerry draw between Afghanistan and Iraq, and who comes out on top. The result: overwhelmingly (75%) for Bush! Oh no!

But "seriously." Assume for the sake of argument that Bush and Kerry supporters are equally likely to self-select into the poll and to stuff the ballot box. The poll result is still scarcely more striking than an intentional walk. The problem lies in some external information that Prof. Althouse doesn't seem to have accounted for: her own peculiar notoreity and its probable effect on the composition of her readership.

For family and friends who don't follow the Madison blog scene, Prof. Althouse's claim to fame is as a sort of Rovian fantasy of the "security mom." She's a self-professed Democrat for Bush (via some sort of lingering post-9/11/01 bond, though she claims to have voted Edwards in the Democratic presidential primary), an academic at a famously liberal institution, and moreover one who takes frequent digs at John Kerry via her blog, and has been linked by prominent conservative bloggers for doing so. This has apparently given her a spike in readership, of the sort that doesn't care about the views from the 100 Wisconsin Avenue condos. So if you poll a bunch of righty blog readers, and perhaps a few Madison academics who may need to stage an intervention, what do you expect?

More on the substance of Prof. Althouse's poll question in a subsequent post.
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