By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Right and wrong on a new casino poll

The Herald’s Scott Van Voorhis rightly notes that a new UMass Dartmouth poll purporting to show an increase in support for casino gambling is undercut considerably by the fact that it “was commissioned by Northeast Resorts, a real estate firm that owns sites in Palmer and New Bedford that have been identified as possible casino sites.”

But he’s at least partly wrong in reporting that a March survey showed public opinion was split. That was indeed the lede, as reported by Stephanie Vosk in this story in the Cape Cod Times. Scroll down a bit, though, and you’ll see that the key finding was that 57 percent of respondents were “strongly opposed” to a casino’s being built in their community, and another 10 percent were “somewhat opposed.”

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  1. Peter Porcupine

    DK – is this the hand of Clyde Barrows of UMass-Dartmouth reaching for our throats once again?

  2. Dan Kennedy

    Indeed it is.

  3. O-Fish-L

    I wonder what the poll results would have been at Exit 92 off of I-95 in Connecticut. What is the “carbon footprint” for those of us from MA forced to drive some 100 miles to pursue our hobby? Dan, vis-à-vis an abortion clinic, how does a casino stack up with regard to the “not in my backyard” question? Nobody polled me to see if I wanted Planned Parenthood plying their version of roulette down the block. Interestingly, the odds at the clinic are far worse than at the casino, but for the few who do survive, Democrat du jour Obama says let them die (see Illinois “Born Alive” law). I for one find it amazing that those who want to save me from the croupier would do nothing to save a baby from the abortionists knife.

  4. Rick

    Dan If the poll came out in your favorI think you would accept it and let us all know. You have no credibility on this issue because of your opposition to any casinos in Massachusetts.. It’s just another example of how polls,conducted by whomever, are faulty. They can be too easily manipulated to come out the way you like. I think it should be voted on by the people and whatever happens happens, I don’t gamble in casinos or anywhere else but if the people want it then so be it. Just my opinion for what it’s worth.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: If you can find a poll anywhere that shows people want a casino built in their community, I will write about it. I’m confused by your assertion that I have no credibility because I oppose casinos. Would I have credibility if I favored them?

  6. Anonymous

    Imagine that, the release of a poll, commissioned by a pro-casino developer with an interest in the approval of casinos in MA, taken by a University right in the middle of an area in favor of casinos. Do you think we would have even heard about this if the results had been less positive for its proponents? This has to be taken with a whole cup of salt, because, without knowing the population and sampling of the poll participants, plus the specific style and presentation of questions, we can’t have any faith in its validity.

  7. Rick

    Dan,No Being personally involved in the issue,for or against, knocks the credibility of reporting on those on the other side of the issue down a few notches in my opinion.Being impartial when reportin is important, As to blogging your opinion then anything goes.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Rick: I am not “personally involved in the issue.” I have a strong opinion. There is a difference. The first is a conflict of interest. The second is not.Regardless of where I stand, 67 percent of respondents still said they oppose a casino’s being built in their community in the March poll reported by the Cape Cod Times.

  9. Anonymous

    Re: But he’s at least partly wrong in reporting that a March survey showed public opinion was split.Oh come on. That’s an old, old, old debating tactic. Anything that’s not unanimous is “split” (or “divided”), by definition. Yes, it may be 2:1 against, but it’s still split.Politicians use that tactic all the time.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 2:18: No, no, no. You didn’t follow the link. The March survey did indeed show that public opinion was evenly split on the macro question of whether people wanted casinos. That turned into two-to-one against when they were asked if they wanted one in their town.

  11. Anonymous

    At least this explains why the casino supporters have been on a rampage. Just can’t accept that public opinion!

  12. Anonymous

    Oh, I just can’t resist.Question: Would Dan Kennedy be capable of writing an interesting analysis of Scott Van Voorhis’ story on a casino gambling poll if he weren’t trying to thread the needle of producing a blog entry on casino issue coverage after having outed himself as a casino opponent — a fact that he does not disclose even though it is still probably not widely known?Answer: I have no idea. I do know that this certainly isn’t interesting.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:49: I know you think you’ve just pointed out a delicious instance of hypocrisy. But you obviously can’t tell the difference between holding an opinion and having a conflict of interest. Instruct me: What is my conflict?

  14. Neil

    Hey Anon 8:49, that’s cute. Dan the distinction’s pretty fine. Unless Gitlin’s on Obama’s payroll, he too merely “holds an opinion”–that Obama is the best of the current candidates, just like you hold the opinion that casinos are bad. In both cases the result is predictability. We know what the advocates are going to say before they say it.

  15. Dan Kennedy

    No, Neil, the distinction is neither theoretical nor unimportant. The whole idea behind opinion journalism is to take stands on issues. Every post I write on casinos is anti-casino; my opinion is clear and disclosed. That’s the whole point of writing about the issue in the first place.It’s as though you’re demanding that Jeff Jacoby disclose that he’s in favor of the death penalty when he writes opinion pieces in favor of the death penalty.Gitlin, on the other hand, writes opinion pieces about Russert without disclosing that he (Gitlin) is an Obama supporter.

  16. Anonymous

    seems to me dan that even if gitlin ran a disclosure he would still be trying to ‘thread a needle.’ you are threading one too by focusing on the poll’s nimby aspect rather than its statewide aspect. here’s a theoretical parallel: 75 percent of bay states support a wind farm for energy, but only 25 percent of those living on the coast (number made up but in line with reality). thus, only 25 percent of bay staters favor a windfarm being built in their “community.” i oppose casinos but i think they should be voted on statewide. as a casino opponent, I don’t think the poll you site is convincing.

  17. Anonymous

    Most polls belong where the sun doesn’t shine. There isn’t a honest or fair poll out there on the casino issue. The only thing that can be determined about mega casinos is nobody wants one in their community,Middleboro included,agreement yes? Casino no? So, having a statewide vote on an issue that will effect:Palmer,New Bedford,Boston,possibly more, is unfair to those very communities, because many people are uneducated on the issue and see some kind of personal gain in inviting this to our state. Study the “negative” effects casinos have on other states and thier economies and you will never wish casinos on Massachusetts. Convince me as an opponent, I actually have something to gain. Don’t throw the old and abused,jobs! and lower taxes! thing at me. Think of something new and convincing.

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