Five Reasons There Are Bad Polls

This morning, CBS and the New York Times announced excitedly that their new swing-state poll (conducted by Quinnipiac University) in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey showed a substantial margin for Barack Obama in all three. The problem: The poll’s results are preposterous. We know this not because it shows Obama leading but because its “internals” are hilariously out of whack in relation to vote totals in 2008 and 2010. For example: The poll has the president winning among independent voters in Pennsylvania by 22 points, 58-36. It is difficult to find state-by-state exit poll data from 2008, but in that triumphant year for Obama, he won independent voters nationwide by 6. 2008 exit polls had Obama winning by about the same margin in Pennsylvania—but in 2010, exit-poll data found Republicans winning the independent vote nationwide by 18 points. Could that have simply swung back all the way to 2008 numbers in Pennsylvania? All but impossible.

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Five Reasons There Are Bad Polls

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White House Daze and Campus Contempt

Commentary Podcast: The Trump administration on autopilot, and Berkeley under threat.

In the second of this week’s COMMENTARY podcasts, we ask whether the president might be relaxing into his job—and whether this means he knows now that he doesn’t have to fulfill every agenda item at once but can take them on over the course of the next four years. And then we delve into the horror on college campuses and the grudging acknowledgment by the mainstream media that things are bad for free speech there—which, of course, they blame in part on bad conservatives. Give a listen.

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Israel’s Wrongheaded Retreat on BDS

Anti-BDS efforts are essential, so they must be engaged seriously.

Regardless of whether you support or oppose a new law allowing Israel to bar entry to prominent supporters of anti-Israeli boycotts, one outcome was eminently predictable: Israel would lack the guts to enforce it even when doing so was most justified. That was amply proven by Wednesday’s decision to grant a one-year work visa to Human Rights Watch researcher Omar Shakir. By this decision, Israel eviscerated the one crucial point the law got right, despite the many it got wrong: You cannot wage an effective war on the BDS movement while giving the people behind it a pass. As the old truism goes, people are policy.

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Civilian Casualties in Airstrikes

How do you prevent civilian casualties when terrorists prefer them?

The Los Angeles Times has a major report on the number of civilians killed in airstrikes, both by the United States and its coalition partners in Mosul. Molly Hennessy-Fiske and W.J. Hennigan write:

A recent airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq is believed to have caused more than 270 civilian deaths, a tragedy that provoked an international outpouring of grief and outrage. But the uproar over the March 17 deaths in the Jadidah neighborhood of Mosul masks a grim reality: Hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of other civilians have died in hundreds of airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during the war against Islamic State, and it appears likely that the vast majority of those deaths were never investigated by the U.S. military or its coalition partners. It also appears that the number of civilian casualties has risen in recent months as combat has shifted to densely populated west Mosul and the coalition has undertaken the heaviest bombing since the war began almost three years ago.

It is true that civilian deaths have increased, but the complaint that the United States must do more to investigate such deaths is misplaced for two reasons:

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Putin’s Propaganda Machine Targets Europe

Russian propaganda never sleeps.

You can’t win them all. After Vladimir Putin’s successful intervention in the U.S. election last year—successful in the sense that he helped to elect Donald Trump even if Trump isn’t delivering exactly the policies he hoped to see—he has mounted a similar disinformation effort to influence the French election. It didn’t work. At least not in the first round of voting, with the only anti-Putin candidate, Emmanuel Macron, finishing ahead of three pro-Putin contenders: Francois Fillon, Jean-Luc Melenchon, and Marine Le Pen. But the Russians still have time to reach into their bag of tricks before the May 7 runoff between Macron and Le Pen.

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In Egypt, Pride above Economy?

Saudi-Egyptian tensions reveal what really matters in the Middle East.

It’s one of the ironies of Middle Eastern studies and Western media that the Israel-Palestinian conflict tends to get outsize coverage in comparison to so many other matters more pertinent to local Arabs. Consider border disputes: From Morocco across the region to Iran, the only neighbors who do not have border disputes are Israel and Egypt, Israel and Jordan, Algeria and Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar and, ever since accepting international arbitration, Bahrain, and Qatar.

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