February 11, 2014

Arguments demolish "Redskins" poll

A recent posting demolishes the Annenberg poll that the Washington Redskins rely on so heavily:

11 Reasons to Ignore the 10-Year-Old Annenberg Survey About the Washington Football Team’s Offensive Name

By Natasha Dhillon, Justin Hemmings, Maggie Scales, and William Stanley1. The Survey is Too Old to Matter

[T]en years can change a lot, which is one reason why pollsters don’t take a Presidential opinion poll at inauguration, then pack things up, pat each other on the back and say “Let’s do this again sometime.”

2. Context Matters

If this really is the be-all and end-all of surveys on the offensive nature of the Redskins name, then it should have been the focus of the survey. Instead, a single question was asked as part of a series of unrelated questions covering a variety of topics.

3. The Self-Identification Problem

The survey asked people if they were Native American, but did not follow up the answer with any additional questions to discern tribal membership or level of heritage.

4. Who Even Uses Landlines?!

That’s right folks—in one of the more troubling and somewhat hilarious portions of the survey, the NAES only contacted people with a landline telephone.

5. Didn’t the Question Wasn’t not but is was Confusing

Did you get that? Probably not. From the NAES press release itself, the question posed was: “The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?”

6. Social Progress is the True Measurement

As public awareness grows, perceptions change. Not surprisingly then, some of today’s most widely-supported human rights movements have started out as “niche” issues with a modicum of support.

7. Size Matters

The Annenberg survey polled a mere 768 self-identifying Indians or Native Americans, and didn’t survey data from Hawaii or Alaska.

8. People Tell Pollsters What They Think They Want to Hear

All polling is subject to a phenomenon called “social desirability bias,” in which respondents tell pollsters what they think is the socially appropriate answer rather than giving their honest opinion.

9. Should we be Okay Severely Offending 9% of a Populace?

Let’s say we accept the Annenberg study as the gospel truth—a terrible idea by the way—do you really think it’s okay to severely offend people as long as the group offended is in the minority?

10. What Can We Do to Fix it?

One thing that could be done is to conduct some sort of new survey to gauge how people feel. Wait, what? This has been done? On Wednesday, October 16, 2013 the Oneida Nation released the results of a poll they conducted of residents in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

11. Does the Survey Even Matter?

[U]pon his death, the infamous George Preston Marshall created a charitable foundation with but one non-negotiable condition—no money was to be used for “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.” If that’s honor and respect for other races, then I have some oceanfront property in Idaho to sell you.
Let's highlight the portion of question 10 that describes what a poll should ask:To accurately get the collective pulse on this issue, a survey or a focus group consisting of Native Americans should ask:

  • Do you find “Redskins” as a team name to be disparaging or demeaning?

  • Does use of the word as a team name treat Native Americans with contempt?

  • Do you believe other Native Americans would find “Redskins” disparaging or contemptuous as a team name?

  • Would you call a Native American a “Redskin” to his or her face?

  • Do you believe that the federal government should protect the trademark of “Redskins”?

  • Do you know that the dictionary defines “Redskin” as an offensive term?

  • Do your answer to questions 1 through 5 change at all?

  • Do you believe that the federal government should protect disparaging trademarks?
  • Exactly. This echoes what I've said several times. Asking Americans about the name "Redskins" is about like asking them about evolution or climate change. They're ignorant of the subject and their initial opinions are worthless without a lot of probing.

    1 comment:

    Rob said...

    For more on the subject, see:


    We need a fresh, reliable opinion poll to show what Indians today think of ‘Redskins’ name

    By Robert McCartney

    Practically every statement on the subject from the Washington franchise or NFL proclaims: Nine out of 10 Native Americans support the name! NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently cited this “fact” at his pre-Super Bowl news conference.

    Goodell’s assertion was based on a single question posed in what was otherwise a U.S. political poll conducted over 12 months by the National Annenberg Election Survey of the University of Pennsylvania in 2003 and 2004.