- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2001

Know your pollster
One of this country's leading pollsters, John Zogby, says Americans can't always trust the polls. Especially when a two-sided war is brewing.
"I think Americans have to be asking the question, is the polling being done scientifically, or is it a 'call-in' poll which are pretty much worthless and not reflective of reality," Mr. Zogby tells Inside the Beltway. "Generally, such polls can be self-selective, and one side might have an ax to grind. It's the same thing with Web sites, which are often 'quicky' kinds of polls."
We called upon Mr. Zogby after two of this country's biggest circulation newspapers, on the same day last week, presented readers with contradictory polling data of public sentiment surrounding the U.S.-led war against terrorism.
One newspaper described an impatient public, its support of the war waning; the other showed Americans still solidly behind President Bush and his anti-terrorism efforts.
"Good voters should be good consumers," is the advice Mr. Zogby gives Americans who rely on polling. "The news media should have to offer at least an additional sentence as to the sample size of a poll, or whether [the pollster] is a reputable firm or not."
As for his own firm, Zogby International, it has been conducting daily tracking polls to gauge U.S. mood surrounding the month-old war.
"As of yet, I haven't seen any real movement away from support for the president, one- or two- or three-point fluctuations at the most," reveals Mr. Zogby. "But, and I would appreciate the but, my polling does show the support is not monolithic that is, the support can dwindle if the war is either protracted or does not show measurable gains."

Afghan fever
"You used to come to Washington and catch Potomac fever. Now you come and catch Afghan fever."
So says former Sen. Howell T. Heflin, Alabama Democrat, encountering a much heavier ring of security surrounding the U.S. Capitol compared with when he retired from Congress five years ago.
"But I'm optimistic about the future," Mr. Heflin tells Inside the Beltway while in town for the release of his biography, "Judge in the Senate."
"President Bush and his administration are doing a great job, particularly in getting the support of foreign countries," he says. "I don't think anybody ever in the history of the world has united as many varying and diverse groups and countries together to support us in our efforts. [Secretary of State] Colin Powell and [Defense Secretary] Donald Rumsfeld have done admirable jobs."
Still, Mr. Heflin cautions people to be patient as the United States continues Phase 1 of its military operations in Afghanistan.
"It takes awhile to build up" forces, the former three-term senator reminds Americans. "Take the Persian Gulf war Desert Storm and Desert Shield. From the time we went over there, it took a good six or seven months to build up, and there you didn't have the difficult terrain, weather and other things we're faced with in Afghanistan."

Local Gains
It's been almost a week since last Tuesday's state and local elections, and Republicans are brushing aside Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe's claim that two key Democratic gubernatorial victories are a "referendum on the Republican Party and its stale ideas."
Nor were voters who elected the two governors Virginia's Mark R. Warner and New Jersey's James E. McGreevey sending a message to President Bush, says the National Republican Congressional Committee.
"Neither Democrat candidate ran against the president or the Republican House, nor against their proposals on education, airline security, the economic stimulus package, or the war against terrorism," the NRCC says. "These races revolved around local issues and local candidates."
Polling conducted for the NRCC in both Virginia and New Jersey had 80 percent of voters responding that their gubernatorial vote "had nothing to do with a message to President George W. Bush."
According to the latest Gallup poll, Mr. Bush's approval rating among Americans stands at 87 percent.

Sporeless mail
Months before anthrax infiltrated the U.S. Postal Service, e-mail sent over the Internet had become the second most popular means of communication among Americans behind only the telephone.
"In the United States, there are an estimated 96.6 million people over the age of 18 using e-mail; by 2003 this number is expected to grow to 140 million," reveals Larry Purpuro, president and founder of Washington-based RightClick Strategies, an Internet marketing firm.
All told, more than 1 billion e-mail messages are sent daily in the United States, none requiring rubber gloves to open.

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