[Bleeding Heartland Logo]

Bleeding Heartland is a community blog about Iowa politics: campaigns and elections, state government, social and environmental issues. Bleeding Heartland also weighs in on presidential policies and campaigns, federal legislation and what the Iowans in Congress are up to. Join our community, post your thoughts as comments or diaries, help keep our leaders honest and hold them accountable.
- desmoinesdem
- Iowa 2012 election coverage
- Who's who in the Iowa House for 2015
- Who's who in the Iowa Senate for 2015
- Iowa wildflowers
2014 Election Coverage
- Absentee ballot numbers
- IA-Sen
- IA-Gov
- IA-01
- IA-02
- IA-03
- IA-04
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of State
- State Auditor
- Iowa Senate overview
- Iowa House overview
- Senate district 5
- Senate district 7
- Senate district 9
- Senate district 12
- Senate district 13
- Senate district 15
- Senate district 17
- Senate district 27
- Senate district 29
- Senate district 39
- Senate district 41
- Senate district 47
- Senate district 49
- House district 8
- House district 15
- House district 25
- House district 26
- House district 28
- House district 30
- House district 33 (2013)
- House district 40
- House district 51
- House district 60
- House district 63
- House district 65
- House district 68
- House district 73
- House district 82
- House district 91
- House district 92
- House district 95
- House district 99

Advanced Search

Paid Advertising

Bleeding Heartland
It's what plants crave.

Adventures in confounding variables

by: desmoinesdem

Tue Jul 08, 2008 at 13:22:15 PM CDT

This Associated Press story has the worst analysis of a poll I've seen in a while (which is saying something): Pet owners prefer McCain over Obama

Click the link to read about an AP-Yahoo! poll that showed pet owners prefer McCain, 42 percent to 37 percent, while people who don't have a pet prefer Obama 48 percent to 34 percent.

Associated Press writer Randolph E. Schmid asserts that the "pet-owning public seems to have noticed the difference" between McCain, who has many pets, and Obama, who has none. There are some silly quotes from pet owners about the fine characteristics of people who have pets at home.

I'm not a pollster or a statistician, but without even trying hard I can think of five confounding variables that may have more to do with the results than pet owners identifying with McCain because he also has animals at home.

1. Are wealthier people more likely to have a pet? Because that group would skew more Republican than the population at large.

2. The same goes for people who own their own homes, who are probably more likely to own pets than people who are homeless or live in apartments. Remember, many landlords don't allow pets in apartments.

3. Are married people more likely to keep a pet than single people? Republicans tend to do better among married voters than single voters.

4. The AP piece mentions that dog owners are particularly slanted toward McCain. Well, most hunters own at least one dog, and people who keep a gun at home are more likely to vote Republican than people who live in a home with no guns.

5. Are men more likely to be dog owners than cat owners? The gender gap in voting behavior has been documented for decades.

The AP article doesn't bring up any most of these potential confounding variables. [CORRECTION: Buried down at the bottom of the piece, the AP article does mention that a higher proportion of dog owners are married, compared to the population at large, and that white people are more likely than black people to own dogs.]

Despite being a dog-lover myself, I didn't even know that Obama had no pets, and I'm well-informed politically. I doubt that even 1 percent of Americans will make up their minds based on whether a presidential candidate has a pet.

UPDATE: The "mystery pollster" Mark Blumenthal posted his entertaining and informative take on this story. He also links to this Google search showing how many mainstream news outlets ran with the AP's misleading but "irresistibly cute lead."

desmoinesdem :: Adventures in confounding variables
Tags: , , , , , (All Tags)
Print Friendly View Send As Email
Tweet This!

Obama flip-flops again in reaction to poll numbers! (4.00 / 1)
He has promised his daughters a dog after election day.  http://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/...

great, now we can look forward to (0.00 / 0)
a lot of armchair psychology about why he picked whatever breed he's going to pick.

Or maybe he will set a good example by adopting an adult dog from a shelter.

Invite other Iowa political junkies to join us at Bleeding Heartland.

[ Parent ]

Make a New Account



Forget your username or password?

Iowa Liberal Blogs
- Blog For Iowa
- Iowa .Gif-t Shop
- Iowa Independent (archive)
- Iowa Policy Points
- Iowa Starting Line
- Iowans for a Future That Doesn't Suck
- John Deeth
Iowa Conservative Blogs
- Hawkeye GOP
- The Bean Walker
- Caffeinated Thoughts
- The Conservative Reader: Iowa
- The Iowa Republican
Journalists' blogs and research
- 24-Hour Dorman
- Cedar Rapids Gazette government page
- Iowa Fiscal Partnership
- Iowa Policy Project
- Iowa Politics Insider
- Iowa Watchdog.org
- On Brief: Iowa's Appellate Blog
- On the Campaign Trail with Ed Tibbetts
- Politically Speaking
- Price of Politics, etc.
- O.Kay Henderson at Radio Iowa
Iowa Democrats
- Dave Loebsack (IA-02)
- Iowa Democratic Party
- Iowa House Democrats
- Iowa Senate Democrats

Powered by: SoapBlox