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Cedar Rapids Gazette Newspaper Archive: October 2, 1974 - Page 8

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Publication: Cedar Rapids Gazette

Location: Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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   Cedar Rapids Gazette (Newspaper) - October 2, 1974, Cedar Rapids, Iowa                                The Cedar Rapids toeUf: Wed.. Od. 2, 197) maintains balance Biased-question claim denied (At The Gazette's invitation, Mr. Harris has written the following j response to a criticism of his I polling techniques. Critic C. J. Lynch's article appeared on this page last spring under the I heading, "Poll accused of ques- fion bias." The Harris Survey re- i porf which provoked that piece I was headed, "Public's belief in Nixon coverup grows. By Louis Harris IN THE May 1 edition of The Ccdur Rapids I. Lynch i took me to task for asking a series of al- legedly loaded questions on President Nixon, Watergate and impeachment. The thrust of his argument, alas, was that the Harris Survey had consistently load- ed on these subjects with an anti-Nixon bias. On the impeachment question. Mr. Lynch would undoubtedly have fell belter about the objectivity of the Harris Survey had we asked protective ques- tions which read as follows: is a man of high integrity. has been the victim of unfair attacks by the news media. is right to say it is more im- portant for him to spend his time working for the country than to be trying to find out what happened in the Water- gate affair. is trying to do his lies! in an almost impossible job. is being unfairly blamed for things his aides did which he didn't know about. The fact that, inci the last two years, the Harris Survey has asked all nf the above questions, not once but. most importantly, on a trend basis over a long period nf time. The results were quite revealing. Here are some of the highlights: "President Nixon is a man of high integrity" met with 63-24 percent agree- ment hack in May of 1S73 just after his late April explanation on television of Watergate events. By August of thai year, it has slipped to 44-42 percent agreement, and by September had fall- en to 45-411 percent disagreement. By January uf 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 integ- rity." In the space nf 13 months, a percent endorsement of the President's integrity had turned around In a 55-34 percent uoubl of Ins integrity. "President Nixon has been the victim of unfair attacks by the news media" was denied by a narrow percent plurality in November of HI73. by a similar 45-44 percenl plurality in February of 1974, but by a somcwhal wider 48-42 percent plurality in June of 1974. Substantial minorities of the pub- lie believed in Ihe fairness of the press as well as Ihe integrity of the President. Bui. despite the "loading" of the ques- tion, not once in the seven times the question was tested did a .majority agree that the media had been unfair ID Mr. Nixon. "President Nixon is righl In say it is more important for him to spend his lime working for the country than lo Iry lo find out what happened in the Wat- ergate affair" was agreed to by li.'l percent of the public in May, by mi more than 47 percenl by October. 1973. after the senate Watergale hear- ings. "He is trying to do Ins best in an almost impossible job" .finds a 52-42 percent majority who still felt that way in June, 1974, no appreciable difference s from the 56-36 percent majority who fell that way in November. 1973. President No-necessity damage Opinion Page Views Ideas Insights Judgments Comments Nixon had consistently evoked sympathy in liis efforls to cope with "an almost impossible job." An even higher 8H percenl expressed similar sympathy with President Johnson in October. when his job rating hit its ail-time low pninl nf 112 percenl positive. Nixon is being unfairly blamed for things his aides did, which lie didn't know about" was simply mil agreed to bv 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 nf cither projective questions which are anli- Nixon. Two will suffice to illustrate the trend lines (in the other side of the coin. Louis Harris e "President Nixon does not inspire confidence as a President should" niel with disagreement by a 59-33 percent majority back in September, 1972, as well as by a percent disagreement in February of 1973. By June. 1973. however, the tide turned around and by 53-33 percenl the public agreed that this President "did not inspire confidence as a President should." This majority went ill) I" 15-29 percent by last November, to '70-22 percent by January. 1974. and stood at 72-21 percent by June of this vear. percent agreement, by .lanuary. 1974. to 76-19 percent, and by June, 1974 to percent. The 26-poinl rise in the number of people who doubted thai the President's damaged credibility could be repaired was significant standard. The inescapable conclnsinii from these results and from many other 11011- projective questions regularly asked was thai President Nixon was in Ihe deepest trouble over Watergate wilh American public opinion. To die just a few: The number who thought thai "President Nixon knew about the at- templ to cover up White House involve- meul in Watergate while it was going on" dropped from percenl In 17 percenl over the same 14-month period. i> Just from March to June of this year, the number of people who thought "President Nixon should be impeached by congress and removed from office" rose from 43 percenl lo 52 percenl. while (hose who thought this should not happen declined in number from 41 percent la 35 percent. The evidence here is merely a frac- tion of the literally hundreds of ques- tions asked by the Harris Survey month in and month out in an effort In obtain Ihe soundest assessment possible of public opinion on the impeachmenl is- sue. These are the ground rules which were scrupulously followed by Ihe Harris Survey; I. Al least one-half of all Ihe qucs- liiins 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 Ihe Watergate affair, or do you feel lie has withheld Important information mi it." 'i. Whenever a projective question was asked which was nnli-Nixnn, il was always followed by a comparable projective question which was pro-Nix- on. The value of these questions was Hint (hey could gel al the parameters (it public opinion pro and con on a particu- lar subject, especially one as sensitive as the possible impeachment of a Pres- ident. About line-third of the questions asked on the impeachmenl questions were projeelive, although in reading J. Lynch's piece one would imagine those were all dial was contained in Harris Survey questionnaires. 3. Use was also made of open-end questions, in which people were asked In state their views in their own lan- guage, due such question was asked in the first poll ever authorized by Ihe U.S. senate in late 1973 which our firm conducted. A cross-section of the public was asked, "If you could sit down and talk with President Nixon personally, what would you like to say lo him ur ask him about1'" A resounding 71 percent cho- rused back in effect, "Tell the truth aboul Watergate which yon haven't easily Ihe largest category of answers. 4. No analysis of any importance is ever based on the answer to a single question. Rather, the results uf a pal- lern of answers to many questions are reported. The reasons: people spill nut their attitudes over an hour's interview (the average length of each Harris Sur- vey) and do not give them in a single answer wilh a ribbon wrapped around it. 5. All questions released publicly in Ihe Harris Survey are fully available In anyone inquiring aboul them, including Mr. Lynch, who unfortunately did not lake the trouble In even question anyone at our organization before writing his piece. Further, all published Harris sur- veys are sent in their original form, along with cuinpulcr print-outs, In Hie Library of Congress and In Ihe Louis Harris Political Data Outer al the Uni- versily of North Carolina, where they have been analyzed by all who seek to use ihem. Many have over the years. (i. As a responsible poll-laker, much as a reponsible reporter. I musl report the facts as Ihey are in any given peri od, regardless of who is pleased or displeased by whal Ihey say. Thus, in 1972, when our surveys reported Pres- idenl Nixon was searing in public ac- claim, our findings were regularly al- lacked by liberals of many stripes for asking "loaded." "ambiguous" and "unfair" questions about Senalor Mcdiivorn. And in 1974, fwn years later, almost an identical chorus was begin- ning !ii be heard 'nun nin.si-rxatU sources. The Persians used In kill their messengers of bad tidings. Partisans in [he have mil dissimilar in- clinations Inward poll-takers. This is parl of UK heal 1 am prepared lo endure in my chosen profession. Public opiiion polls are mil infallible and honest criticism is needed today more than ever before. But such as that offered by C. J. Lynch smacks far loo much of Ihe traditional type of criticism which is singularly Ihe mark of one who must kill the messenger when the message violates his own vision of Ihe Irnlh. By Rowland Evans and Robert Novak WASHINGTON Thai Republicans have had lo undergo unnecessary, embarrassing and inescapably messy hearings this week on Ihe nomination of Peter Flanigan as ambassador lo Spain can be traced lo two increasingly famil- iar shortcomings by President Ford: paying loo much attention to conlinuity wilh (lie Nixon presidency and not enough atlenlion lo prntecliim of his parly's interests. Flanigan, former New Ynrk finan- cier and White Mouse aide under Pres- ident Nixon, will not enjoy Ihe perfuuclo- ry cnufirmnlion hearings normally conducted by Ihe senate foreign relations commiltee. Sen. Thomas Kaglelou nl Missouri, leading Ihe attack against his confirmation, wauls Klanigan pul under oalh answer a long hsl of aeeiisalions The most serious by far are .sworn by former Nixon allnrncy Herbert Kalmbach miplicaling Flanigan in exchanging ambassadorial nomina- tions for iHillllcal conlrlbullons. Though denied by Flanigan. Kalmbach's charges are strongly supported by Albert .Miner, who interrogated him as a counsel at Ihe house impeachment proceedings. Fven if Flanigan is confirmed, il will revive poisonous memories of Wal- crgatc one month before Ihe mid-term election. Thus, Republican politicians are talking aboul Flanigan's nomiualinn as the Nixon pardon in microcosm: A politically self-damaging act fulfilling no ostensible need. Flanigan. a haughty lace-ciirlain Irish socialite who bruised feelings all over Washington as a Nixnu While House Iroiibleshonter. had no visible support for a diplomatic post. High slate department officials, Republican senalors and many parly leaders agree Ilia! Die iniminalion needlessly borrows trouble. There is no sign that Secretary nf Slate Henry Kis- singer pushed il, cnnlrary lo hinls pn- valely dropped by Flanigan. Tile best explanation is Ilia) Mr Ford signed an ambassadorial cmnmis- sioii for Flanigan prepared during Ihe Nixon admiuislralioii as part of Ihe new Presidenl's obsession with coulinuily during Ins flrsl days in office. As (he Nixon pardon, there was Illlle, if any. study of political consequences Some of the President's closest ad- visers were mil even aware of last July's testimony by Kalmbach. Nixon's former attorney now serving a federal prison sentence. Kalmbach testified lie had been fold by Flanigan in 1971 lo seek a campaign contribution from Dr. Hull! Farkas (later named ambassador lo Luxembourg) and thai in turn she would he named ambassador In Cnsla Rica. Flanigan lias denied Ibis, contend mg Kalmbach misniiderslond him. "I would helicve lesli- ninny." .lenner Inld us. Jcnner termed Kalmbaeh "a splendid witness, with a very gnnd memory and excellent re- cords Flanigan, .lenner ailded. "played tilings close to his vest." Although Faglelon Unlay has I'cu allies in Ihe drive agamsl Flanigan. prospects for confirmation are blighted by one ominous fad: Sen Robert Bynl of Virginia, assistant Democrat ic leader and peril.ips (lie single musl ]m- Icnl figure in loday's seiiale, has an nonneed agamsl him Whclliei Flamgan survives or not, even While Mouse allies concede Ihe hearings can only embarrass the Republican party and the President al a lime when his hands arc lull uiih more impnrtanl mailers This is really something! It's a crime the way BECKER'S PEOPLES has slashed prir.es! You won'l have to look far to find your kind of buys! Arm Chair and Ottoman An elegant wood finish ac- cents the plumply tufted cresent pillow back and ot- toman in black vinyl Regular Rich Mediterranean Door Tables Cozy Beauty and Goionial Friendliness Smatly tailored fash- ion fabric comple- ments high winged backs and comfortable roll arms. Burton tufted backs and pleated skirts. Cushions are re- versible. Kroehler. 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