If you believe the liberal Daily Kos's recent poll of "self-identified Republicans", the conservative base is off its collective rocker. The poll produced some shockers--that 63 percent of respondents think President Obama is a socialist, for example, and that 39 percent think he should be impeached. This confirmed what many liberal bloggers suspected, with Daily Kos editor Markos Moulitsas crowing, "these results explain why it is impossible for elected Republicans to work with Democrats to improve our country."

But can the poll be taken at face value? For one thing, Moulitsas commissioned it with a motive. "As I've mentioned before, I'm putting the finishing touches on my new book, American Taliban, which catalogues the ways in which modern-day conservatives share the same agenda as radical Jihadists in the Islamic world," he writes. "But I found myself making certain claims about Republicans that I didn't know if they could be backed up. So I thought, 'why don't we ask them directly?'"

Even some on the left believe the poll also had structural deficiencies. Pollster's Mark Blumenthal and Charles Lemos of left-leaning My Direct Democracy have examined the poll's methodology and take issue with its results.

  • Poll Sample Is Skewed Lemos argues that the South is overrepresented, distorting the results. "A poll is only as good as its sample and this poll oversamples older (37.09 percent of the sample is over the age of 60), southern (42.24 percent of the sample hails from the old Confederacy plus Kentucky) men (56.16 percent of the sample are men)," Lemos explains. "It is a great poll if we wanted to get insight into the views of old southern men who vote Republican." Lemos quotes the Institute of Southern Studies to highlight the largest demographic discrepancy: the overrepresentation of the South.
The poll has one big flaw: 42% of those polled came from Southern states -- way out of proportion with their share of Republican voters nationally. ... And the picture is unmistakable: On almost every issue, Southern Republicans are far to the right of their national GOP brethren.
  • Questions Create 'Acquiescence Bias' Blumenthal argues the poll was structured to exploit "the tendency of some respondents to select affirmative answers where the choice is whether to affirm or reject the statement presented (including "agree or disagree," "favor or oppose" and "yes or no" formats)."
"Consider the questions asked on the DailyKos/Research2000 survey in the order in which they presented the results. The first eight present all of the more sensational, ludicrous assertions (most of which pertain to President Obama). Seven of eight ask respondents to affirm or reject the extreme statement." He concludes: "Acquiescence bias probably exaggerates the amount of agreement measured for some of the more ludicrous assertions about Barack Obama tested on the Kos poll."