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Polling opposites

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Case Study 8

Talk about a confusing mess. Between these two stories, which each spun a different view of the polling results, I preferred the New York Times’ take on the survey. Clearly positive feelings of the overall direction for the nation decreased. However, I did use statistical tidbits and quotes that worked from the USA Today story. The one thing I wasn’t sure of is if I should have rewritten passages to call into question the polling process more. I found it questionable that not every province was surveyed and that some of the results seemingly went against reason or even common knowledge.

New York Times and USA Today compile

Afghans Losing Faith in Nation’s Path, Poll Shows

ISLAMABAD,Pakistan— Afghans have lost a considerable amount of confidence in the direction of their country over the past two years, according to an extensive nationwide survey released Wednesday.

While the national mood remains positive on the whole, the number of people with negative or mixed views on the trajectory of the country has grown significantly since a similar survey in 2004, according to the Asia Foundation, which conducted both surveys.

“The number of Afghans who feel optimistic is lower than on the eve of the 2004 presidential elections,” the survey found.

In what it is billing as the widest opinion poll conducted in Afghanistan, the non-profit, San Francisco-based Asia Foundation surveyed 6,226 Afghans 18 and older in person in 32 of the country’s 34 provinces over the summer.

In the survey, 44 percent of Afghans interviewed said the country was headed in the right direction, compared with 64 percent in 2004. Twenty-one percent said the country was headed in the wrong direction — compared with 11 percent in 2004 — and 29 percent had mixed feelings. Four percent were unsure.

Among those who expressed pessimism, more than half said the biggest problem was a lack of security, the Taliban threat and warlords.

Indeed, polling couldn’t be conducted safely or reliably in two areas: southern Afghanistan’s strife-torn Zabul and Uruzgan provinces, which together account for 2.3% of the country’s population. The survey’s margin of error was plus or minus 2.5%.

The survey showed strong support for democratic elections, and a surprisingly strong approval of new national institutions, including the Afghan National Army, of which 87 percent approved, and the Afghan National Police, of which 86 percent approved.

However, the police, in particular, have been widely criticized for being corrupt, brutal and beholden to local warlords. A report released this month by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based non-profit group devoted to conflict prevention, called the Afghan police “little more than private militias … regarded in nearly every district more as a source of insecurity than protection.”

“I have never met one person, including the minister of the Interior, who trusted the Afghan National Police,” Barnett Rubin, who studiesAfghanistanatNew YorkUniversity’s Center on International Cooperation, said in an e-mail. “I think this is not a very reliable survey.”

George Varughese, who directed the poll for the Asia Foundation, which supports programs in Asia that help improve governance and law, economic reform and development, agrees that some of the results “appear to challenge the current wisdom on issues in Afghanistan,” but says, “We feel it is a solid, important piece of work, completed during a difficult time.”

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Written by jboothe

March 28, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Nice lead and second graf

    Probably should to be honest with readers: The one thing I wasn’t sure of is if I should have rewritten passages to call into question the polling process more. I found it questionable that not every province was surveyed and that some of the results seemingly went against reason or even common knowledge.

    New York Times and USA Today compile should be Compiled from

    Ronald R. Rodgers

    March 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm


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