Tuesday, September 22, 2015


I have to admit that as far as breathless headlines goes, "Terrifying new poll: Nearly 1 in 3 Iowa Republicans thinks Islam should be illegal," is a good one. It seems like just the thing for conjuring up fears that, if Republicans take the White House in 2016, they'll lead the charge repeal the First Amendment and replace it with something that allows for mandated Christianity for everyone. After all, it seems unlikely that they'd stop with just Islam, right?

Of course, behind every breathless headline tends to be a somewhat less alarming set of facts, and this time is no exception. Public Policy Polling, who conducted the poll, "surveyed 488 usual [Iowan] Republican primary voters," which isn't a very large sample size, all things considered. Also because the voters questioned usually vote in the primaries, they're likely not exactly representative of the typical Iowa voter - recall that voter turnout tends to be lower for primary elections.

The fact that Donald Trump and Ben Carson are running so well in the polls may have convinced people that there is a dangerously ignorant wing of the Republican party set to take over, but it's just as likely that we're seeing a relatively small group of people answering a silly question in a way that allows them to vent.

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