Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Study suggests polls overestimate support for Obama, underestimate back for Clinton

The study was released a couple of weeks ago, but given the amount of exit polling we're bound to hear tomorrow from Iowa and New Hampshire, I thought it might be a good idea to remind ourselves of the inherent problems with exit polling.
A new national study of voters who say they might vote in Democratic primaries and caucuses shows a striking disconnect between their explicit and implicit preferences, according to University of Washington researchers.

When asked who they would vote for, Sen. Barack Obama held a 42 percent to 34 percent margin over Sen. Hilary Clinton. Former senator John Edwards was in third place with 12 percent. However, when the same people took an Implicit Association Test that measures their unconscious or automatic preferences, Clinton was the runaway winner, the favored candidate of 48 percent of the voters. Edwards was second with 27 percent and Obama had 25 percent.
The study, part of Harvard University's Project Implicit is called the Implicit Association Test. I've taken the test previously on issues of racism, and found it interesting, and challenging. Basically, you are given words and asked to quickly (i.e., without thinking about it) respond favorably or unfavorably. I took the presidential candidate test (for Democratic candidates only -- I don't need to know who I rate most unfavorably among the Republicans). Below are my results:

I wasn't surprised at the order, but I was surprised at far below the rest I rated Obama. Like those mentioned in the study, I would have said I was sort of "on the fence" about the Clinton-Obama rivalry, but my implicit responses indicate that's not so. Clearly, my lingering doubts about Obama's experience level and ability to lead on an international level continue to linger.

You can take the test here. It only takes about 10 minutes, and I would be curious to hear back from you about your results.


Mauigirl said...

Very interesting. I had recently started to like Edwards more than the others, I thought, so I picked him on the conscious portion of the test, even though in the past I wasn't crazy about him. I thought his populist message was strong, I thought he is sincere, and that maybe he might be a very good candidate. Previously I had been leaning toward Obama and Clinton.

When I took the subconscious part of the test, it turns out I like Obama well above the others! Richardson and Edwards ended up at the bottom. Very interesting.

However, I'm sure in some parts of the country the subliminal part will work against Obama if the people involved have some veiled racism that they aren't admitting to themselves.

Mauigirl said...

Not to imply Obama being lower rated would only be due to racism. I do share your concerns about his lack of experience, which is one reason I had been thinking more positively about Edwards.

Sue J said...

Not to imply Obama being lower rated would only be due to racism

It's such an interesting contrast this year between the democrats and the republicans. I think if I took this test on the republican side, all my responses would be grouped together at one point on the spectrum. They are all basically the same, to me. (Just some worse than others!)

But with the democrats, there are candidates whose unique attributes stand out, namely Clinton and Obama. It's hard then, to say the reason I don't like this one or that one is not because of that attribute. It becomes a touchy, tangled mess.

I think all people are a work in progress, so I would never go so far as to say I don't have a racist bone in my body. I strive for that, and I think I'm darn close. Probably as close as anyone can be, actually. So my initial reaction to my test results was alarm -- did I really rate Obama so low because he's a person of color?

No. He's the least experienced of all the candidates running, his theme of "hope" has few details, and his responses on questions of foreign policy have shown his lack of experience. In the world created by BushCo, we need someone with foreign policy experience. (Actually Richardson trumps them all here.)

I think this Implicit Test is great because it encourages this kind of self-reflection. If a man takes the test and rates Hillary Clinton low, is that because of a negative reaction to her as a woman candidate? Not necessarily so, but I would hope it would make the man stop for a moment and think about it.

scepter66 said...

on obama's message of hope.
"he that lives upon hope will die fasting"
Ben Franklin
"hope is a great falsifier. let good judgement keep her in check"
Baltasar Gracian

scepter66 said...

polls and tests aside , it appears to me that the major media are really pushing for obama.

Mauigirl said...

It's interesting to me that now that the first results came out and Obama beat Hillary, I am suddenly very consciously excited about it. It could be my reasons for not picking him consciously were not actually because I'm that worried about his inexperience (like Bush wasn't inexperienced? And at least Obama has lived in and experienced other parts of the world, whereas Bush had never been anywhere outside the U.S. except Mexico, I believe) but about his viability as a candidate due to race. I wasn't giving the American public enough credit, perhaps, that they might actually be ready to move beyond color. Iowans are 95% white and yet Obama won. There may be hope for this country after all. Of course, it's a long road yet and much remains to be seen.

In a way I'm just as concerned about Hillary's viability due to the hatred the right has for her. And when it comes right down to it, if the Dems end up losing in November perhaps I'd rather it be with Obama than with Hillary.

Sue J said...

I agree, no matter how this all turns out in the end, it is a watershed moment for our nation when a person of color wins the presidential primary in a state that is 95% white.

There may be hope for us yet.