Utah Pollsters Cast Doubt on Anti-Discrimination Survey

A recent survey by the libertarian Libertas Institute that says Utahns do not support a statewide anti-discrimination law has raised questions about the poll’s accuracy from BYU polling gurus Quin Monson and Kelly Patterson.

On the Utah Data Points blog, Monson and Patterson outline their objections to the survey and why they seriously doubt the conclusions it raises. They include:

  • Inaccuracy of the questions – “For example, the two questions about an anti-discrimination law contain references to “jail time.”  However, jail time is not part of anyone’s anti-dicrimination ordinance or law.  What Libertas calls “contextualized” simply means asking loaded questions by introducing the threat of a non-existent punishment.”
  • Ethical and legal problems with the survey – “One serious issue is that they posted a data file on their web site that includes the actual phone numbers of the people they called.  This is a huge violation of trust…They did not release the full script of the robocall, but we are guessing that they did not tell participants that they would be releasing their phone numbers publicly.  This would have led many people to hang up on the call and would make many of the existing respondents very angry.”

Monson and Patterson conclude:

In their write up of the “survey,” Libertas claims that “These results validate our initial theory…”  Unfortunately, good social science does not validate theories, it simply rejects null hypotheses at certain levels of confidence.  We have no confidence in this survey.