Monday, August 31, 2020

Where's Fox News when you need it?


So, where's Fox News on this all-important new survey from Military Times -- you know, that reliable source of lead stories (like the one at right, from 2008) for the home stretch of the campaign?

Well, let's have a look:

The latest Military Times poll shows a continued decline in active-duty service members’ views of President Donald Trump and a slight but significant preference for former Vice President Joe Biden in the upcoming November election among troops surveyed.


The results, collected before the political conventions earlier this month, appear to undercut claims from the president that his support among military members is strong thanks to big defense budget increases in recent years and promised moves to draw down troops from overseas conflict zones.

That's a fair interpretation of the results (and appropriately frank in acknowledging a limitation -- when it was in the field -- in the second graf), so you can see why this poll is not likely to reach the top of the Fox homepage. I mean, when the very survival of the republic is at stake ...

Despite a couple of mistakes here and there, Military Times has done a pretty good piece of reporting here.  The "margin of error" appears to be miscalculated for a 95% confidence level (for a random sample of 1,018, it'd be 3.1 points, not "up to 2 percent"), so it's misleading to call the preference for Biden "significant" -- it would be significant at around 90% confidence, which is good enough to take to the track though short of the traditional confidence level used in the social sciences. The sample of "active-duty service members" was "
culled and verified from Military Times subscriber lists and databases" -- meaning (as the story acknowledges) that it's a representation of "career-oriented military members' views," not necessarily of the military as a whole. Accuracy about detail isn't why the story is anathema to Fox, but it does suggest why the results are especially relevant and what they're relevant about. The results are very much worth a look. And feel free to laugh at Fox while you're there.


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