UPDATE: As postulated earlier today, it is now confirmed that Think BIG did not release the complete finding of their own poll, and it’s also become amazingly clear why. Cosmo Garvin at SN&R reports that according to their own poll, more than half of the adults in Sacramento either want to “Let the Kings go” or “Don’t care” if they move to another city. Not exactly the kind of thing you would want to get out to the public if you’ve been working for months at drumming up support for a publicly subsidized arena, is it?
Altogether, Think BIG released only a summary of seven survey questions, but it turns out a total of twelve questions were asked of respondents. The following questions were left off the publicly circulated memo:
- The Sacramento Kings basketball team may re-locate to Seattle or Anaheim. Do you want city officials to fight to keep the Kings in Sacramento? Do you want city officials to let the Kings go? Or does it not matter to you? 48% Fight, 52% Let go/doesn’t matter.
- Are you aware? … Or not aware? … that the City currently leases several parking garages to private operators? This is a false statement. Parking Services is responsible for Off-Street Parking in the City of Sacramento.
- As one way to help pay for a new arena … would you support? … Or oppose? … a fee of $1 to $3 per ticket, that would be paid only by those who buy tickets to events? Pointless question, this option is not on the table. Even Mayor Johnson said so just this week.
- If the city of Sacramento contributes money from the leasing of garages and the sale of land to help fund the arena, would you support? … Or oppose? … a parking fee of $1 to $3 that would be paid only by non-city residents who park at city garages during arena events? Again, pointless question meant only to confuse the issue.
- Could the city do a better job of operating and maintaining its parking garages? Does the city do as well as anyone could? Or, do you not know enough to say? 47% didn’t even know enough to say.
Also, take into consideration these disclaimers by SurveyUSA:
“All respondents heard the questions asked identically.”
Most reputable surveys will randomize the order of the questions for statistical accuracy. Think BIG didn’t see the need to do that here. Even SurveyUSA goes on to say…
“There are … sources of error in all surveys that may be more serious than sampling error. These include: … the order in which questions are asked (and) the wording of questions…”
So within the wording of its own survey, Think BIG manages to discredit itself. No wonder they didn’t want the full version to be released. You can read the full survey for yourself by clicking this link. The original story that was published earlier is below…
Think BIG, the group founded by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson to drum up support for a publicly subsidized arena, has released the findings of their recent telephone survey. According to their analysis, adults in Sacramento strongly support the financing of a new arena in Downtown Sacramento with the implementation of a public-private partnership to cover the costs of construction. While the group didn’t release the poll itself, the summary released makes that claim.
As regular visitors to ranSACkedmedia.com most likely know, I remain skeptical of the Think BIG group and the methodology behind this survey does little to change my viewpoint. I take issue with the following:
- The footnote on the first page of the summary states that:
500 city of Sacramento adults were interviewed by SurveyUSA 02/17/12 through 02/21/12. This research was conducted using blended sample, mixed mode. Respondents reachable on a home telephone were interviewed on their home telephone in the recorded voice of a professional announcer. Respondents not reachable on a home telephone were shown a questionnaire on their smartphone, tablet, laptop or other electronic device. (emphasis mine.)
The use of a recorded voice to ask the questions, and the election to allow respondents to use other electronic devices to participate opens the door to wide-spread abuse of the system. For example, if a small child had answered the phone, there would be nothing to stop them from taking the survey without detection. A human survey-taker would more likely catch the deception, and terminate the call. The same problem exists with the use of smartphones, tablets, etc. With those, any method to validate if the respondent even lives in Sacramento disappears. Think BIG also released no information about the demographics of the participants.
- The following question as written is too leading:
One way to pay for a new arena in Sacramento is to develop a public-sector, private-sector partnership. This partnership might create 4,000 jobs and may result in $7 billion in economic activity over the next 30 years. As one way to help pay for a new Sacramento arena, do you support? Or oppose? A public-sector, private-sector partnership?
This question mixes a possibility (one way to pay for a new arena) with a hypothetical that remains to be proven (the job creation, economic activity estimates). The manner in which the question is structured causes it to lose value. A better way to ask the same question is to break it in half. Should Sacramento enter a public-private sector partnership to build an arena? Do you believe that it would create 4,000 jobs and result in $7 billion in economic activity? By splitting the two a real gauge to public opinion could have been drawn. That how a survey published last month polled voters in Sacramento, and the results were very different.
- The survey memo released today seems to be withholding some of the results based on information ranSACkedmedia has received from participants.
Even before the summary memo was released today, ranSACkedmedia already had a good idea of what kind of questions were asked by the robo-survey. According to our source, there were at least eight questions; today’s memo only discusses seven. And some of the eight questions our source were asked aren’t in the memo released today.
- Do you know that the City of Sacramento already leases out parking to the private sector? Not included.
- Is the City of Sacramento doing a good job of running the parking garages, or would the private sector do a better job? Not included.
- Shall we fight to keep the Kings or let them go? Not included.
- Should we establish a public private partnership to build an arena? Included.
- Should the City move ahead with formal bids to lease the parking? Included.
- If we lease the parking, do you think it is fair to ask out-of-towners to pay a $3 parking surcharge for arena events? Not included. The Sacramento Bee confirmed over the weekend that this question was on the survey, which proves that Think BIG is being selective in the information they are releasing.
- Should we impose a ticket surcharge to pay for the arena? Not included.
- If we lease the parking with no impact on the general fund, sell city-owned land, and create four thousand jobs, should we lease the parking for the arena? Included.
Think BIG could easily do a lot to clear up my doubt by having SurveyUSA release the entire poll, and it’s methodology, for everyone to see. I called Jeremiah Jackson, the face of Think BIG and asked him for the full survey, but he didn’t return my call. You can call him and ask for the full survey by dialing 415-938-6424. If you get him to answer, let he know what he says by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.