Cedar Rapids Gazette, October 2, 1974, Page 8

Cedar Rapids Gazette

October 02, 1974

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Issue date: Wednesday, October 2, 1974

Pages available: 83

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Next edition: Thursday, October 3, 1974

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Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - October 2, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa ••    •    "    "'’'5‘'’    I TU Cedar Rapids Gazette Wed. Oct. 2. 1*74 9A oiling maintains balance Biased-question claim denied (Af The Gazette s invitation, Mr. Harris has written the following response to a criticism of his polling techniques. Critic C. J. Lynch's article appeared on this page last spring under the heading, "Poll accused of question bias. The Harris Survey report which provoked that piece was headed, "Public s belief in Nixon coverup grows.") By Louis Harris IN THE May I edition of The Cedar Rapids(ia/ette.attorney(’ J Lynch took me to task for asking a series of allegedly loaded questions on President Nixon. Watergate and impeachment The thrust of his argument, alas, was that the Harris Survey had consistently loaded question6 on these subjects with an anti-Nixon bias On the impeachment question. Mr Lynch would undoubtedly have felt better about the objectivity of the Harris Survey had we asked projective questions which read as follows: —He is a man of high integrity —He has been the victim of unfair attacks by the news media —He is right to say it is more important for him to spend his time working for the country than to be trying to find out what happened in the Watergate affair —He is trying to do his best in an almost impossible job —He is being unfairly blamed for things his aides did which he didn't know about The fact is that, over the last two years, the Harris Survey has asked all of the above questions, not once but, most importantly, on a trend basis over a long period of time The results were* quite revealing Here are some of the highlights: • “President Nixon is a man of high integrity" met with 83-24 percent agreement back in May of 1873 just after his late April explanation on television of Watergate events By August of that year, it has slipped to 44-42 percent agreement, and by September had fallen to 45-40 percent disagreement By January of 1974, by 49-37 percent people disagreed that Mr Nixon was a “man of high integrity." And by June of 1974, by 55-34 percent, a majority felt their President was not a “man of high integrity." In the space of 13 months, a 83-24 percent endorsement of the President’s integrity had turned around to a 55-34 percent doubt of his integrity • “President Nixon has been the victim of unfair attacks by the* news media" was denied by a narrow 48-43 percent plurality in November of 1973. bv a similar 45-44 percent plurality in February of 1974. but by a somewhat wider 48-42 percent plurality in June of 1974 Substantial minorities of the public believed in the fairness of the press as well as the integrity of the President But. despite the “loading" of the question. not once in the seven times the question was tested did a majority agree that the media hail been unfair to Mr Nixon • “President Nixon is right to say it is more important for him to spend his time working for the country than to try to find out what happened in the* Wat ergate affair" was agreed to by 83 percent of the public in May. 1973. but by no more than 47 percent by October. 1973. after the senate Watergate hearings • "He is trying to do his best in an almost impossible job" finds a 52-42 jiercent majority who still felt that way in June. 1974, no appreciable difference from the 58-38 percent majority who felt that way in November, 1973 President Opinion Page Views Ideas    Insights Judgments    Comments Nixon had consistently evoked sympathy in his efforts to cope with “an almost impossible job.” An even higher HS percent expressed similar sympathy with President Johnson in October, 1987, when his job rating hit its all-time low point of 32 percent positive. • “President Nixon is being unfairly blamed for things his aides did, which he didn t know about" was simply not agriTd to by a 51-33 percent majority in November of 1973 While the Harris Survey has asked such pro-Nixon projective questions on a consistent basis over the last two years or more, it has also asked a number of other projective questions which are anti Nixon Two will suffice to illustrate the trend lines un the other side of the coin Louis Harris • “President Nixon does not inspire confidence as a President should" met with disagreement by a 59-33 percent majority back in September. 1972. as well as by a 52-40 percent disagreement in February of 1973 By June. 1973. however, the tide turned around and by 53-33 percent the public agreed that this President “did not inspire confidence as a President should” This majority went up to 65-29 percent by last November, to *70-22 percent by January. 1974. and stood at 72-21 percent by June of this year • “President Nixon has lost so much credibility that it will be hard for him to Im* accepted as President again" met with 54-35 percent agreement in May. 1973 By September, 1973. it had gone to 68-23 percent agreement, by January. 1974, to 76-19 percent, and by June. 1974 to 80-14 percent The 26-point rise in the number of people who doubted that the President’s damaged credibility could be repaired was significant by any standard The inescapable conclusion from these results and from many other non-projective questions we regularly asked was that President Nixon was in the deepest trouble over Watergate with American public opinion. To cite just a few. • The number who thought that “President Nixon knew about the attempt to cover up White House involvement in Watergate while it was going on" dropped from 34 percent to 17 percent over the same 14-mnnth peru*! • Just from March to June of this year, the number of people who thought “President Nixon should Im* mijM*ached by congress and removed from office" rose from 43 percent to 52 percent. while those who thought this should not happen declined in number from 41 percent to 35 percent The evidence here is merely a fraction of the literally hundreds of questions asked by the Harris Survey month in and month out in an effort to obtain the soundest assessment possible of public opinion on the impeachment issue These are the ground rules which were scrupulously followed by the Harris Survey 1 At least one-half of all the questions asked were always “balanced." in that people were asked in the same query “should or should not President Nixon be impeached and removed from office" or “has the President been frank and honest on the Watergate* affair, or do you feel he has withheld important information on it ” 2 Whenever a projective question was ask«*d which was anti-Nixon, it was always followed by a comparable* projective question which was jiro-Nix on. The value* of the*se* questions was that they could get at the* parameters of public opimem pro and cern on a jiarticu-lar subject, especially one* as sensitive as the possible impeachment of a President About one-third of the* questions aske*d on the impeachment questions were projective, although in reading < J Lynch’s piece erne* would imagine* those* were all that was contained in Harris Survey questionnaires 3 Use was also made* of open-end egestions, in which people were asked to state their views in their own language One* such question was asked in the* first poll ever authorized by the* U S senate rn late 1973 which our firm conducted A cross-section of the* public was aske*d. “If you could sit down and talk with Pre»side*nt Nixon personally, what would you like* to say to him or ask him about?” A refunding 71 percent chorused back in effect. “Te*ll the* truth about Watergate* which you haven’t done," easily the* largest category elf answers 4 No analysis of any importance is ever base*d on the* answer to a single* (jue*stion. Rather, the results of a pat tern of answers to many questieins are reported The caseins: peojile* spill out their attitudes over an hour s interview (the average length of each Harris Survey) and do not give them in a single answer with a ribbein wrapped around it. 5 All questieins relt*ased publicly in the* Harris Survey are fully available* to anyone inquiring abeiut them, including Mr Lynch, who unfortunately did not take the tremble to ever que*stiein anyone* at our organizatiem be»fore* writing his pure Further, all published Harris surveys are* se»nt in their original form, along with computer printouts, to the* Library of Congress and tee the* louis Harris Peilitie*al Data Center at the University of Neirth (’anilino. where* they have been analyzed by all who se*e*k to use* the*m Many have over the* years 8 As a re»speinsible* jMill-taker. much as a repemsible sporter, I must reqiort the* fae*ts as they are* in any given period. regardless of who is ple*ase*d or displease*d by what they say Thus, in 1972. when our surveys re*|>orte*d President Nixon was soaring in public ae-claim, our findings were regularly attacked by liberals of many stripes for asking "bladed,” “ambiguous" and “unfair" questieins about Senator McGovern And in 1974. two years later, almost an identical chorus was beginning to Im* he*ard from conservative sources. The Pensions use*d to kill their messengers cif bad tidings Partisans in the* mid-1970s have* not dissimilar inclinations leeward poll-fakers This is part of ttu he*at I am prejiaml tee endure* in my chosen profession. Public oilmen (Mills are not infallible and lamest criticism is needer! today more than e*ve*r before* But such as that offere*d by (’. J Lynch smacks far too much of the* traditional type of criticism whic h is singularly the* mark of one* who must kill the* messenger when the* message* violates his own vision elf the truth f %    ■    CRM Egads,Watson, they’re giving the store away! This is really something! Ifs a crime the way BECKER’S PEOPLES has slashed prices! You won t have to look far to find your kind of buys! Arm Chair and Ottoman An elegant wood finish accents the plumply tufted cresent pillow back and ottoman in black vinyl Regular $199.50 158 Rich Mediterranean Door Tablas Choose cocktail, square or hexagon, commode Rich Oak finish with Formica tops. 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Kalmbach* charges are strongly supported by Albert Jcnner, who interrogated him as a counsel at the house impeachment proceedings. Fvcn if Flanigan is confirmed, it will revive poisonous memories of Watergate one month Mort* the mid-term election Thus. Kej>uhlican politicians arc talking about Flanigan’s nomination as the Nixon pardon in microcosm A politically self-damaging act fulfilling no ostensible need Flanigan, a haughty lace-eurtain Irish siMialite who bruised feelings all over Washington as a Nixon White House troubleshooter, had no visible support for a diplomatic post High state department officials. Republican senators and many party leaders agm* that the nomination needlessly borrows trouble. There is no sign that Secretary of State Henry Kin singer pushed it, contrary to hints privately dropped by Flanigan The Im*sI explanation is that Mr Ford signed an ambassadorial commission for Flanigan prepared during tin* Nixon administration as |iart of the new President's obsession with eontinuity during his first days in office As with the Nixon pardon, there was little, if any. study of political consequences Some of the President's closest ad users were not even aware of last July’s testimony by Kalmbach. Nixon s former attorney now serving a federal prison sentence Kalmbach testified to* had been told by Flanigan in 1971 to s<Tk a $259.(NHI campaign contribution from Dr Ruth Farkas (later named ambassador to Luxembourg) and that iii turn she would Im* named ambassador to Costa Rica. Flanigan has denied this, contending Kalmbach misunderstood him. ‘ I would believe Kalmbach* testimony,’’ Jcnner told us Jcnner termed Kalmbach “a splendid witness, with a very goml memory and excellent records ” Flanigan. Junior aimed, “played things close to his vest Although Fagleton today has few allies iii the drive against Flanigan, pros|MTts for confirmation are blighted by one ominous fact Sen Hubert Byrd of West Virginia, assistant Democratic leader and |M*rhaps the single most potent figure in today’s senate, has announced against him Whether Flanigan survives or not, even White House aides concede the hearings can only embarrass the Republican party and the President at a time when his hands art* full with more important matters Publisheri Moll Syndicate Tufted High bock Easy to care for vinyl cover Choice of colors Reg $139 50 BIG 7-Pc. 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