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

An odd Suffolk/Globe/USAT poll on Israel and Hamas

I want to call your attention to what strikes me as a very odd poll that’s in today’s Boston Globe. A Suffolk University/Boston Globe/USA Today poll surveyed 1,000 New Hampshire voters and asked them about the war between Israel and Hamas. Support for Israel was high — 48.6%, with 15.8% supporting the Palestinians and 14.7% sympathizing equally with both sides.

But here’s the question that has me flummoxed: “When it comes to the conflict between Israel and Hamas, what do you think the US goal should be right now?” Take a look at the responses:

Respondents only got to pick one answer. Yet if a pollster had asked me this question, I would have answered “yes” to all four, with one caveat: I’d support a cease-fire only if it were accompanied by a demand that the hostages being held by Hamas be released simultaneously. Otherwise, provide military aid to Israel? Push for a cease-fire (and the release of the hostages)? Advocate for a two-state solution? Insist that Netanyahu step down? Yes, yes, yes and yes. I suppose the first two questions, calling for Israel to “eliminate Hamas” versus pushing for a cease-fire, are binary. But I’d have answered “yes” to both anyway because I support military aid to Israel and peace and justice.

I can’t imagine I’m alone in my thinking. Given that, I’m not sure that these polls results have any value. And I guess I’d have been with the 2.1% who refused to answer.

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  1. Bruce Mendelsohn

    Your concern relates to the construction of the survey, which is flawed. Writing surveys is more science than art; the individual who wrote this clearly had some ulterior motives.

  2. Stephen Walker

    Can we change the name of this war from ‘Israel-Hamas’ to maybe ‘Israel-Palestine’? Less than 10% of the 23000 people slaughtered in Gaza are members of Hamas. Half of the homes and most of the important infrastructure in Gaza has been destroyed. And other lands are affected now. Starvation and disease are rampant in Gaza. Israel is run by fascists who hate Muslims, but still the USA gives them money, weapons, and political support.

  3. Stephen Walker

    There was no choice of, “Should the US be selling weapons to Israel?”

  4. Dan, Thoughtful posting. I wish we could all apply the same scrutiny to horse race polls around election time.

  5. Rick Saia

    I agree with Bruce in that the question is flawed in its construction. The four specific answer choices are not mutually exclusive solutions. In fact, most anyone following the conflict would find merit in the three options that garnered the highest percentages. The fact that nearly 18% – nearly two of every five respondents — selected “undecided” or “refused” leads one to infer skepticism of the nature of the question and the accompanying answer choices. At the least, this question needed more vetting before the poll was released, from the perspective of one who has constructed surveys.

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