At least this time, the News-Mess tells you where the poll came from
The editorial refers to a poll that is supposedly conclusive evidence that the City Council is out of touch, destroying our way of life, yada yada yada. But this time a magical poll cited in the editorial actually has a source identified: Allied Neighborhoods Association.
Through some oh-so-clever research on the Internets, you Gentle Readers (and even the hostile ones) can find the original report about this “poll” at the web pages of this neighborhood association. Their web site includes a report all full of narrative and bar graphs and even includes a link to a spreadsheet file (Survey Database) of the original data from the whopping 122 responses, 86% from people age 50 or older, and 93% of whom are homeowners and 7% renters.
In the editorial, here is what Travis-baby wrote: “But the latest evidence that the council and city administration have priorities different from Santa Barbarans comes in a questionnaire circulated by Allied Neighborhoods Association. The survey found that residents ranked housing…” He then goes on about how the City Council is evil blah blah blah.
Never to let facts or the validity of statistical inference and stratified sampling significance get in his way, the editorial conveniently ignores this major caveat in the whole poll and its analysis: it don’t mean nothing except what those specific 122 respondents wrote onto the questionnaires. Questionnaires are not always polls or certainly not real surveys.
The report by Allied Neighborhoods Association on page 2 honestly and correctly includes this big qualifier about what their poll means:
“Of course the significance of the results of a public survey is dependent upon the quality of the sample. We do not suggest that our sample represents a true cross-section of the community – we simply did not have the resources to attain anything approaching that level of distribution. We distributed these questionnaires, both in paper form and electronically (allowing respondents to e-mail responses), to our neighborhood associations, with the request that it be passed on to as many residents –members or otherwise– as possible. We make no claim that our sample of responses depicts an accurate profile of the City’s resident population. As you will note in the following analysis, the respondents were predominantly older homeowners.”
The short answer to all this: This questionnaire returned by 122 residents is not a poll or survey as the headline of the editorial calls it (“City Survey Shows…”). In the context of the editorial, this alleged survey is, ahem, biased, in what it represents and concludes because it is not a simple random, representative sample of the Santa Barbara population, as its own authors and analysts readily admit.
But in Wendy World and Travis Town, bias and significance are what they say and write they are. Except when the Neighborhood Association posts the report and the data at its web site.