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Pew Survey Reveals That Question Design Influences Voters Choice of "Values" or "Iraq" as Most Important Issue

A November 11th survey by the Pew Research Center reveals that moral values and Iraq reverse positions as the most important issue depending on how the question is asked. Here's what the report says:

Since the election, there has been considerable debate over the relative importance of moral values to voters. More than one-in-five (22%) of those questioned by the National Election Pool on behalf of the Associated Press and the major networks cited moral values as the most important issue in their vote, from a list of seven items on the exit poll questionnaire. In Pew's post-election survey, half of the respondents were presented with the same list of issues as on the exit poll and asked to choose which was most important while half were asked an open-ended version of the question.

Among those offered the seven-item list, a plurality of 27% selected moral values, followed by 22% who chose Iraq and 21% who selected the economy and jobs. Terrorism was chosen by 14%; education and health care were chosen by 4% each and taxes by 3% (see chart on pg. 2).

The responses were significantly different among those who were not offered a fixed list of choices. The war in Iraq was mentioned as the single most important issue by a similar number (25%), but the economy and jobs were mentioned by only 12%; and only 9% mentioned terrorism. Notably, just 9% used the terms "moral values," "morals," or "values." Specific social issues including abortion, gay marriage, and stem cell research were volunteered by 3%, while another 2% cited the candidates' morals.

It makes you wonder what the results would have looked like if the exit polls had included "lying to the American people" as one of the choices for most important issue



"It makes you wonder what the results would have looked like if the exit polls had included "lying to the American people" as one of the choices for most important issue "

Raising what I believe to have been the single greatest issue failure of the Kerry campaign...

Lies and incompetence
Incompetence and Lies

- My Victory slogan for over a year. Kerry's staff apparently was split on the issue with the "lies" side losing out until at the very end there seems to have been some sort of weak, watered down compromise between the two factions.

In Washington it doesn't matter that you were right, only that you won the policy battle.

That last question would have worked most effectively as a poll entrance, not exit, question. Just how many people would have voted differently given that last reflection on things?

The term "moral values" in itself is vague. It's entirely possible for a Kerry voter to have indicated that "moral values" was his/her first choice and mean the war in Iraq, the environment, helping the poor, etc.

The post election fawning over "moral values" didn't just happen. It was the next step in a game plan. I marvel at their ability to get their message out. You have to respect fascism for that ability. It's efficient.

Meanwhile, Democrats argue over the what "moral values" mean, while the Republicans beat them ever more senseless.

They're beating us because they are better at manipulating the media and public opinion. They've got chainsaws, and we've got a couple of guys on a hand saw, one of whom must be a transgender under party rules.

That's what I did. I put "moral values" down for that question. It was no single issue, but the overall immorality of W that was the major single factor in my vote for Kerry. It was a bit of a hard call for me to decide which box to check on that questionnaire, but "moral values" most neatly encompassed my revulsion for the motivation behind most of the actions of the bush (lower case intentional) administration. If there was a blank, I may well have put "lying to the American people" or something similar.