Poll: Wide Majority of Hondurans Oppose Coup d’Etat, Want Zelaya Back

By Al Giordano

Finally, hard and reliable data - by a legally certified Honduran polling company – provides a clear measurement of how the Honduran people view the June 28 coup d'etat, its “president" Roberto Micheletti, President Manuel Zelaya and the national civil resistance.

The polling data – which we make public for the first time here - shows that Hondurans widely (by a margin of 3 to 1) oppose the coup, oppose coup “president” Micheletti by a margin of 3 to 1 and favor the reinstatement of their elected President Manuel Zelaya by a clear majority of 3 to 2.

On February 9 of this year, the Gaceta Oficial of the government of Honduras published the Supreme Electoral Tribunal’s certification of a Tegucigalpa polling company, COIMER & OP (Consultants in Investigation of Markets and Public Opinion), as a legally authorized pollster for the November 29 elections. The Tribunal inspected the company’s polling methodology, its offices, its staff, gave it the stamp of approval and the green light to survey the Honduran electorate.

The Field has obtained the full results of a recent COIMER & OP survey of 1,470 Honduran citizens over 18 years of age at randomly selected homes (no more than one respondent allowed from each home) proportional to national, state and municipal population and matching other demographic measurements (gender, age, etcetera) in the country, from August 23 to 29 of this year. The poll has a margin of error of four percent.

This is the first survey to be made public since a July Gallup poll showed a plurality of Hondurans opposed the coup d’etat and Roberto Micheletti, and a plurality wanted Zelaya back as president. What is interesting from this survey is that opposition to Micheletti and the coup increased between early July and late August from mere pluralities to a punishing majority: evidence that the nonviolent civil resistance movement has worked effectively to strip legitimacy from the coup regime. As of late August, only 17.4 percent of Hondurans favor the coup d’etat, only 22.2 percent believe Micheletti should remain as president, and only 33 percent oppose the restitution of President Manuel Zelaya.

And those were the numbers before Micheletti’s very unpopular “state of siege” decree of September 29 began to divide his supporters even further.

For Spanish-language readers, political reporters and analysts, The Field and Narco News today make available the full survey and all its cross-tabulations for your analysis.

For English speakers, we will translate the survey questions and the results here, adding some analysis:

Are you in favor of the June 28 coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales?

In favor of coup: 17.4 percent

Opposed to coup: 52.7 percent

No response: 29.9 percent

Strip away the “no response” and the percentages among those with an opinion reveal a stunning 75 percent percent against the coup with only 25 percent in favor: an anti-coup margin of 3 to 1.

Meanwhile, coup “president” Micheletti remains a very unpopular man among Hondurans:

Should Micheletti stay in power or leave the current government?

Micheletti should stay: 22.2 percent

Micheletti should leave: 60.1 percent

No response: 17.7 percent

Among those who express an opinion, Micheletti’s opponents outnumber his supporters by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.

A clear majority supports Manuel Zelaya’s return to the presidency – 60 percent of those who express an opinion:

Do you support the return of Manuel Zelaya Rosales to the Presidency of the Republic?

Support Zelaya’s return: 51.6 percent

Oppose Zelaya’s return: 33 percent

No response: 15.4 percent

Even the National Civil Resistance - maligned daily in the pro-coup media, portrayed sensationally as lawless and threatening of the civil order - enjoys a plurality of support from the Honduran population:

Do you agree or disagree with the marches by the national resistance throughout the country against the coup d’etat?

Support the marches: 45.5 percent

Oppose the marches: 41.8 percent

No response: 12.7 percent

By a more than 2 to 1 margin, Hondurans view the police and military as overly repressive against the national resistance:

Do you think that the Armed Forces and National Police are engaging in repression or not against the National Resistance?

Yes, there is repression: 54.5 percent

No, there is not repression: 21.8 percent

No response: 23.7 percent

When asked their opinion about that repression, an overwhelming majority of Hondurans opposes that repression:

Do you agree with the repression or condemn the repression that the Armed Forces and National Police have engaged in against the National Resistance?

Against repression: 65.4 percent

For repression: 8 percent

No response: 26.4 percent

Strip away the non respondents, and a whopping 89 percent oppose the repression against the civil resistance, including many Hondurans that do not themselves support the resistance marches.

Here’s another interesting question and result:

Who promoted and financed the coup d’etat that toppled President Manuel Zelaya Rosales? Among the political, business, military sectors or foreign capital, which was behind the coup?

All of the above: 23.6 percent

Business sector: 16.8 percent

Political sector: 15 percent

None of the above: 9.5 percent

Military sector: 6.7 percent

International capital: 2.4 percent

No response: 26.8 percent

The COIMER & OP survey also reveals a chilling fact regarding freedom of the press under the coup regime: that the two national TV and radio stations shut down by the coup regime happen to be the most trusted news sources in the entire country, out rating all other media outlets:

Which radio news do you prefer to inform you of events in the country?

Radio Globo: 23.4 percent

HRN: 22.4 percent

Radio América: 13.7 percent

Radio Cadena voces: 0.7 percent

Local station: 10.3 percent

No answer: 29.5

 

Which television news program do you prefer to inform you about the happenings in the country regarding the coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales?

Channel 36 Cholusat: 18 percent

Channel 6: 16.9 percent

TNS: 15.7

Abriendo Brecha: 10.7

Hable como Habla: 7.8

TVC: 7.3

Once Noticias: 3.7

Local and regional channels: 9.5

No response: 11.4

The survey also shows that only 53.9 percent of Hondurans read daily newspapers, and that only 55.2 percent prefer any newspaper at all to inform them of happenings in the country:

Which newspaper do you prefer to inform you about the happenings in the country regarding the coup d’etat against President Manuel Zelaya Rosales?

No response: 44.8 percent

La Prensa: 22.6 percent

La Tribuna: 12.2 percent

Tiempo: 9.9 percent

El Heraldo: 9.3 percent

El Libertador: 1.2 percent

Interestingly, prior to June 28, the daily Tiempo of San Pedro Sula was the fourth most read paper in the country. Since the coup it has now surpassed the daily Heraldo and is catching up on second place La Tribuna – both of Tegucigalpa – and Tiempo is in striking distance for second position. Tiempo is the only newspaper of the four that has not offered extremely dishonest pro-coup spin.

The results of the next question should indicate why the Micheletti regime keeps talking so loudly about the November 29 elections which the rest of the world has said cannot be recognized as fair or free under the repressive conditions imposed by the coup regime. However, a strong majority of Hondurans still favor those elections:

Should the general elections organized by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for November 19 happen even if the institutional crisis isn’t resolved?

Yes, have elections: 66.4 percent

No, don’t have them: 23.8 percent

No response: 2.9 percent

The 23.8 percent that oppose holding the elections before the crisis is resolved is actually a very high number compared to general public opinion: Elections are like mom and apple pie. Only a very highly politically conscious citizen would make the leap of understanding that elections are not fair and free under a coup regime and therefore openly oppose them happening. I would venture an estimation that that number of 23.8 percent represents participants in the Civil Resistance movements, who have universally argued that the conditions do not exist to hold free elections given what the coup regime has done to censor and violently repress all dissent. That would represent an unusually strong base from which to continue organizing.

Here are some questions about those elections:

What political party do you belong to or sympathize with?

Liberal: 38.5 percent

National: 28.5

Democratic Unification: 1.4

PINU: 1.1

DC: 0.9

Independent Candidate: 2.9

None: 21.5

No response: 5.0

 

Will you vote in the General Elections to elect President, members of Congress and Mayors?

Yes: 53.8 percent

No: 18.8 percent

Maybe: 12.5 percent

Don’t know: 9 percent

No response: 3.5 percent

 

What is your opinion of Independent Candidates?

Good opinion: 51 percent

Bad opinion: 16.2 percent

No response: 32.8 percent

 

If the elections were held today for President, who would you vote for:

Pepe Lobo (National Party): 28.2 percent

Elvin Santos (Liberal Party): 14.4 percent

Carlos H. Reyes (Independent): 12 percent

César Ham (Democratic Unification): 2.2 percent

Bernard Martinez (PINU): 1.2 percent

Felipe Avila (Christian Democrat): 1 percent

None of the above: 24.7 percent

No response: 16.3 percent

We can see from those combined numbers that while Zelaya’s Liberal Party remains the most popular, its pro-coup nominee Elvin Santos is rejected by about two-thirds of his own party members. We can also see very low interest in participation by voters, with only 53.8 percent saying they will definitely vote. And – should there be a negotiated solution in time for the resistance movements to participate in clean elections (a very big “if”) – Independent candidate Carlos H. Reyes is very well positioned to supplant the Liberal Party nominee to become one of the top two candidates, the most viable alternative to Lobo, especially if, as has been talked a lot about, the Democratic Unification Party of candidate Cesar Ham joins in coalition behind Reyes.

But, of course, such talk is way premature, since conditions do not at present exist for fair and free elections, and its not clear there is enough time in the next 53 days to fix that.

This chart measures the popularity (“Excelente y Buena opinion”) against the negative rating (“Mala opinion”) along with the middle category of “regular opinion” and “don’t know or no response”):

The most popular political figures in the country are:

President Manuel Zelaya: 44.7 percent (to 25.7 percent negative)

And…

First Lady Xiomara Castro de Zelaya: 42.6 percent (to 17.9 percent negative)

That they enjoy the highest favorability compared to any other national figure - after a massive PR ad campaign all summer long on TV, radio and in the pro-coup dailies to portray Zelaya as a national villain - is also an indication of the pro-coup media's own crisis of credibility with the public.

The least popular political figures in Honduras are those perceived as coup leaders:

Coup “president” Roberto Micheletti: 56.5 percent negative (to just 16.2 percent positive)

Liberal Party candidate Elvin Santos: 45.2 percent negative (to 18.6 percent positive)

Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez: 42.6 percent (to 26.1 percent positive)

General Romeo Vasquez: 40 percent negative (to 19.1 percent positive)

National Party candidate Pepe Lobo: 34.1 percent negative (to 30.5 percent positive)

Interestingly, Independent and anti-coup presidential candidate Carlos H. Reyes is more popular (24.6 percent) than unpopular (14.1 percent) as are anti-coup media voices like Radio Globo’s Eduardo Maldonado (31.4 percent positive to 23.2 percent negative) and Channel 36’s Esdras Amado Lopez (23.5 percent positive to 17.3 percent negative). They are, along with the Zelayas, the only national public figures to enjoy a significantly more favorable rating from Hondurans than negative.

The bottom line: A majority of the Honduran people oppose the coup, oppose Micheletti and a wide majority oppose the regime’s repression against the national resistance. And a plurality openly support the civil resistance movement.

So when Republican US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen yesterday issued a “Twitter communiqué” claiming that “nobody wants Zelaya back,” she was blowing smoke out of the wrong air hole. All those - from the regime, to the oligarch diaspora to Lanny Davis and the US political consultants they hire, to the spoiled brat class of some (but not all) gringo expats in Honduras that repeated unsupported claims  that a majority of Hondurans favor the coup, or support Micheletti, or oppose Zelaya’s return, now end with egg on their faces, their credibility shot. They just made it up and thought you would be gullible enough to believe them. But here we’ve given you, finally, the hard numbers, now available in full public view.

What’s more is that these results explain why the coup regime and its chambers of commerce and other big business organizations – the forces in the country that can afford to hire pollsters - have not released any of their own internal polling data to the public: Because they, too, know that a majority of Hondurans oppose them, and they are less popular even than the national nonviolent civil resistance movement that they treat with such disdain.

 

Comments

methodology

Al, do you know anything about the poll's methodology?  It seems like it would be hard to run an accurate poll under conditions of such repression.  I'm not saying it's not possible or that they didn't.

@ Michael

Michael - The link to the entire poll in Spanish includes a lengthy revelation of the methodology used (more transparent than most North American polling firms offer). It was a very large survey pool of 1,470 (1,500 with 30 interviews thrown out for irregularities) done not by phone but by door visits to homes in cities and towns selected to provide a demographically similar sample as the adult population as a whole.

The polling was conducted in all Honduran states except its two smallest population states (the Islands and the far eastern Gracias a Dios). It was directed by five regional quality control inspectors.

If one is going to conduct a survey in a country where so many people don't have telephones, that is exactly the way to do it.

Your point is correct: that under the current wave of repression it could cause respondents to not be willing to admit their opposition to the regime. It's possible that many of those people answered in the "no response" category on certain questions. But that factor would only make the results even more anti-coup. If anything, this poll undercounts the anti-coup majority.

I think it's a very thorough poll, honest about its methodology, with a sample size at least three times larger than the minimum, which is always helpful in getting an accurate result.

off topic, but important to me

It's great to finally have hard data for this, thanks!

 

I'm concerned with what seems like a very obvious storyline push by the mainstream United States media to hang Afghanistan around Obama's neck and to make sure there's no positive way out. Naturally as President these things do become his responsibility, but that doesn't mean one can't notice the obvious push to raise it as an issue sooner than later. I'm terrifically glad to have Al reporting on Honduras and don't want it to stop, but I'm donating later today to help be sure he can keep reporting on the US as well.

Spot on - and of course opposition to coup is undercounted

Al, The Economist also claimed recently that "Polls suggest only about a quarter of Hondurans back Mr Zelaya." I was quite amazed by that claim - how can anyone pretend there are accurate polls under a repressive, authoritarian regime?

The fact that even under such conditions a poll would show such a majority opposed to the "de facto regime" speaks volume about the strength of the anti-coup movement.

No-response numbers

So when Republican US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen yesterday issued a “Twitter communiqué” claiming that “nobody wants Zelaya back,” she was blowing smoke out of the wrong air hole.

That would be the same "nobody" who didn't have maids before Castro, heh.  I'm refering to your quote from a Cuban, Al, while you were describing the meaning of "esqualido," "everybody had maids before Castro."  And you said, "even the maids had maids?"

On those no-response numbers, I wonder if they are large percentages or not.  On an anecdotal level- I know a Russian emigrant who reflexively refuses to answer any polls, saying it's nobody's business.  My speculation is that her environment of suspicion (I'm assuming this too) that she grew up in in Russia encourages her to never let anyone unknown know her thoughts.

Could there be a similar dynamic in these polls?  I don't know, but the 29.9% no-response number seems large to me in answer to the first question about whether one is in favor of the coup or not, after all that's been happening.  I suppose a devil's advocate would say that the coup hasn't affected people enough to have an opinion.

Legitimate _and_ popular president

The favorability numbers for Pres. Zelaya and Xiomara Castro de Zelaya are striking.  "Foolish" and "reckless", eh, Mr. Amselem?

 

Over the last three months I've read a fair number of back issues of the Honduran papers and googled up names so I'd have some grasp of who's who. A couple of tne names on the list are still completely unfamiliar to me: Can someone tell us about Juan Ferrera and Esdras Amado Lopez?

 

@ Dan, @ Ann

Dan - Yes, that Economist piece was a tawdry excuse for "journalism." There is not a single publicly known poll that shows majority support for the coup (or "25%" support for Zelaya). The writer of that claim did not cite any source at all. He either made it up or was repeating some unsubstantiated spin as gospel.

I've been hearing about alleged poll numbers from Honduras all summer long. Many of them had similar results to the one I cite today. But I haven't reported those alleged results because nobody could show me the actual poll or at least some verification through the polling firm itself. Just as there are ethics to polling, there are ethics to reporting about polling. I'm pleased though that COIMER & OP offered such a thorough explanation of its methodology: that kind of transparency inspires greater confidence in any poll.

@ Anne - Yes, I do think that the questions that had higher "no response" percentages were generally the ones in which people might be afraid to offer an answer that the coup regime would consider negative: about the coup itself, about the Armed Forces, National Police and their repression. Those three had unusually high non response rates of 25 to 30 percent.

Some of the other high non-response numbers came from questions that required a certain amount of knowledge about how politics works, and confusion may have played a role: The questions on which sectors financed the coup, about Independent candidacies, and of course the questions regarding TV, radio and newspapers simply found a large number of Hondurans who don't follow the media closely enough to have loyalties to any.

@ Nell

Nell - Esdras Amado López is one of those uncommon species of television station owners that is himself actually a long time journalist. He owns and reports on Channel 36 (which the poll indicates is the most trusted of TV news sources in Honduras, and which has also been invaded and shut down by the coup regime).

Later today we are publishing an interview with and profile of Mr. López, so stay tuned!

Reliable Poll....you serious

Please, you really expect anyone that lives in this country to believe what you are saying, this is insane.  I want to see the base for this poll, where was it conducted?  Was it during one of his PAID followers demonstrations, or did you just go ahead and pay them during the poll was conducted.  OR better yet, when was this conducted.  Also, WOW making a big deal on a pole on 1,470 people, WOW, very big number to decide and condem a Constitutional Government.  Now, just so your readers also can know a little history, the old Supreme Court, controled by that president, approved that polling company, of course they would be able to poll the elections, this man did not plan on having any so what did he care if the people assigned to to the job had any idea what they were doing.  DONT FOOL THE PEOPLE WITH FALSE INFORMATION, or at least give them the whole truth.  HONDURAS DOES NOT WANT THAT MAN BACK, as everyone seems to care for him so much, take him into your country and see what happens.  SHOW MY COMMENT, or you just print the ones in favor of the crazy man.

@ "se inteligente Honduras"

"Se Inteligente Honduras" - You're clearly upset by the results. They shatter your delusion about what Hondurans really think about the regime.

I think you should use some "intelligence" and click the link in the story to the full poll results (in Spanish) which appears in my story and fully discloses the methodology used.

I'm a former professional pollster, and I find COIMER & OP's methodology not only sound, but superior to that of most polling firms in Latin America, and very transparently disclosed.

If you can read Spanish (rather than just use a few words to imply that you can) you should have already clicked that link and found out that your crazy conspiracy theory that the pollster somehow surveyed "paid" people in "demonstrations" is demonstrably false. The pollsters went to people homes in every corner of Honduras utilizing the state of the art opinion survey techniques that lead to an accurate poll.

Don't talk to me about "crazy" men when you are screaming in ALL CAPS and otherwise ranting like one yourself. You don't like the poll results therefore, according to you, they can't be true. That's delusion, kiddo. And it calls into question the sanity of all your conclusions about what is happening in Honduras.

Your comment is most welcome here. It demonstrates so well the denial and refusal to consider the facts that are a trademark of pro-coup extremists like yourself: cheering brutal repression, press censorship and anti-democracy while using the words "democracy" and "freedom" as mere slogans.

Thank you, sir, for coming here and embarrassing yourself with such a childish rant. You make my case for me. Mil Gracias!

 

Survey in Spanish

Unfortunately the poll in Spanish will not open on my computer. Perhaps the link is broken? Is there any way you could email it, or is it available somewhere else on the Web?

@ Andrew

Andrew - It's just a very large document and therefore takes forever to download. Click the link again and leave it downloading while you attend to other Internet tasks and eventually it will appear!

could we see the four conclusions pages too, please?

Between the 32nd and 33rd pages of the pdf file, the report pages 29, 30, 31 and 32 are missing:

http://www.narconews.com/docs/encuesta_honduras_agosto_2009.pdf

These only concern the conclusions section of the report, not the method and results, but for completeness' sake, it would be good to have these pages as well, especially since the word "full" has been used three times above.

 

@ half-a-prayer, re Afghanistan and Honduras

You're absolutely right that there is a "very obvious storyline push by the mainstream United States media to hang Afghanistan around Obama's neck and to make sure there's no positive way out."  That's not so much because of political bias against Obama, but rather because mainstream journalists and broadcast producers are lazy and prefer to grab off the top shelf a meme or cartoon of a past controversy and paste it on the current situation whether or not it actually applies.  Thus the news media and the Republicans both have a vested interest in equating Obama with Lyndon Johnson, whose Great Society program and whose presidency were supposedly consumed in the fires of Vietnam. (His presidency was ruined by Vietnam, but the Great Society was largely passed, in the form of medicare, new federal housing, and many other programs which helped lift millions out of poverty).  That explains all the absurd charts now tumbling out of newspaper web sites and think-tank blogs showing that the "Afghanistan War" (which it was never called under Bush) has been the third-longest war in U.S. history, even though the toppling of the Taliban was done with special-ops leadership of a small expeditionary force in late '01, and Bush had only a constabulary and inadequate terrorist-hunting force there after that.  It was under Bush that the Taliban was permitted to reconstitute itself inside Afghanistan, which Obama noted during the campagn.  Only this year have a sufficient number of forces been sent to Afghanistan to call this a "war" in the same breath as Vietnam, and those forces were sent to prevent the country from being re-Talibinized precipitously, in the wake of Bush's disastrous non-strategy (not enough resources for nation-building, but enough military excesses to alienate the civilian population).  In short, this is another Bush-created disaster that Obama has to clean up.

What does this have to do with Honduras?  You asked about the media, and my theory is that while Vietnam (failed war) is now their frame for Afghanistan, the dominant MSM frame about the Caribbean and Central America has for some time consisted of (a) incompetent or bullying leaders, like Noriega in Panama or the various failed figures in Haiti, and (b) hurricanes.  In a single word, disasters that the U.S. has to send soldiers or money to bail out.  On top of that, the neo-cons have created this fiction that Obama is creating a disaster in Honduras by trying to prop up Zelaya, who they are trying to depict as a kind of cowboy hat-wearing Chavez lover, i.e. another weird south-of-the-border guy. In short, Honduras is a disaster too.

Look, we're saddled with an MSM that has a limitless appetite to cover only three kinds of stories at length, all of which they see through the lens of disaster:  (a) wars, (b) hurricanes, storms and earthquakes, and (c) sex scandals (e.g. David Letterman).  Honduras falls under (b) because it's the kind of place where poor people's homes are flattened in earthquakes. That this frame distorts the news means that we should not overreact to it.

 

 

 

 

The innumeracy of the Right

Se Inteligente's refusal to acknowledge that accepted sampling procedures makes a sample of 1470 relevant to Honduras' 8 million in population reminds me of something that happened to me at DailyKos yesterday. There was a thread arguing about gun rights, and I pointed out that the US has a much higher murder rate than our Western European friends. Someone named "duckhunter" linked to a bar graph that clearly showed the US had a murder rate of about 5 per 100,000, and Germany and France each of about 2.5 per 100,000. So he said, get this, that since the two countries combined had only half the population of the US, if you added them together they had a much higher murder rate than America. I had to explain to him twice that you can't add rates.

Apparently if you love the few and hate the many, you are much more likely to deform your own ability to comprehend numbers to reverse reality.

 

There Are No Missing Pages

To "Missing Pages" - If you scroll down the document, after page 38 appear pages 29, 30, 31 and 32.

They're just out of order, that's all.

Now maybe you can criticize yourself for not reading the whole thing before jumping to conclusions that we didn't deliver what we promised!

Re: missing pages just reordered.

To Al: You're perfectly correct that the pages are just reordered a little oddly, not missing. :)  Excellent work in publishing this - i hope that COIMER & OP get the motivation to start their own website.

 

Juan Ferrera: golpista

To answer my own question about Juan Ferrera: I comfort myself that 60% of the Honduran public are with me in my ignorance. 

He backs the coup. He's a former Finance Minister under the Carlos Reina (Lib.) government 1994-1998, and still a power to be reckoned with ("leader of an umbrella group of civic and business leaders").  He made the news today by supporting Zelaya's return -- but only after the November elections: “If you let Zelaya come back before elections, he won’t allow them.”

Lobbying Effort on Honduras Getting Results

 

 

 

First, depose a president. Second, hire a lobbyist.

In the months since soldiers ousted the Honduran president,Manuel Zelaya, the de facto government and its supporters have resisted demands from the United States that he be restored to power. Arguing that the left-leaning Mr. Zelaya posed a threat to their country’s fragile democracy by trying to extend his time in office illegally, they have made their case in Washington in the customary way: by starting a high-profile lobbying campaign.

The campaign has had the effect of forcing the administration to send mixed signals about its position to the de facto government, which reads them as signs of encouragement. It also has delayed two key State Department appointments in the region.

Costing at least $400,000 so far, according to lobbying registration records, the campaign has involved law firms and public relations agencies with close ties to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Senator John McCain, a leading Republican voice on foreign affairs.

 

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/08/world/americas/08honduras.html?hp

Any indication of who commissioned the poll?

Or was it conducted by COIMER & OP on their own dime to set a baseline before the election campaigns (which formally opened the week after the surveying for this poll was completed)?

@ Nell

Nell - Nope. No idea. The source that slipped it to me doesn't know either. But I was able to confirm its authenticity.

NYT cotton candy

@barbs

Glad to see the NYT is taking the hard news reported by Narco News and putting it in the cotton-candy spinning machine.

I guess that's what you do when you get beat on a story and the meme is already out of your control. You try to respin it with that special brand of MSM sugar.

This statement from the story:

The campaign has had the effect of forcing the administration to send mixed signals about its position to the de facto government, which reads them as signs of encouragement.

... is never backed up, at least as far as I can see in reading the rehash of previously reported facts. It seems it was the selling point of the story, but alas, like cotton candy, it disappears nearly as soon as it's put into your mouth.

Such is life when you're chasing the fast class.

I'm sure the lobbyists like it, given they have to justify their bills to the various coup plotters — generally accomplished, in part, by sending them newspaper clips as proof of their manipulation at work.

But I look to another explanation for the Obama administration's seeming ambivalence with respect to Honduras.

Nnenna Ozobia, policy director for Latin America at the TransAfrica Forum, in a recent telephone interview, offered this insight into that ambivalence — which I think has far more merit than what the Times printed:

“It’s a bit baffling as to why the U.S. has not done more in Honduras [to crack down on the coup] but at the same time, Honduras has a long history as a U.S. ally and there are a lot of entrenched U.S. interests there as a result that could be having some influence on the administration,” Ozobia said.

[As an example of those "entrenched interests" she mentioned Iran/Contra in terms of Honduras serving as a U.S. base of operations.]

Ozobia added that our prior president surely would not have gone as far as Obama has in condemning the coup, but with that said, she added that the Obama administration has not gone far enough.

She stressed the racist and violent nature of the current coup junta, mentioning the Honduran minister who made the racists remark against Obama as an example of the mentality we are dealing with there.

In addition, Ozobia said Obama is facing problems in getting his people approved at State to handle Latin American affairs [referring to the Republicans holding up his nominations over Honduras, which is also mentioned in the Times story] and that fact, coupled with the entrenched U.S. interest pushing back against more drastic coup sanctions, might explain why more is not being done.

Finally, Ozobia pointed out that the big fear now is that the Micheletti regime will suddenly agree to the San Jose Accord, or some version of it, within weeks of the election, allowing deposed and democratically elected Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to return, with the goal of making it seem the November elections are legitimate, even though that would clearly be a sham.

Ozobia said the people, meaning the social movements in Honduras, don’t want that to happen — the creation of a false pretext for sustaining the cruelty of the coup junta.

Ozobia pointed out the great disparity between rich and poor in Honduras and the fact that the same elite wealthy class has been entrenched in power for years. She said the people active in the resistance to the junta actually see the current moment as an opportunity to try to get people in power who will actually represent the interest of the Honduran people for a change.

And that last insight is what is missing from the Times story — an important insight, since it is the reason the coup plotters hired DC lobbyists in the first place.

They fear democracy and so seek to disrupt its course, even here, in the United States.

 

election scenarios

The election poll suggests that opinions about major candidates and party factions is mostly unchanged by the coup, with the notable exception that the Liberal Party is spit over those who support the Santos/ Micheletti faction on the one hand, and those who support Zelaya's turn to the left and the popular resistence to the coup on the other, aligning themselves with Carlos H. Reyes. The clear negative here is that traditional supporters of Lobo (National) are not drawn away from him because of anger over the coup and mostly don't associate him with the coup. A good question would have been: do you think (Lobo, Santos) were involved in the coup and should in some way be held responsible?

Third party candidates often build momentum over time, especially when you have such a political crisis that no one can avoid, in a country which two parties have controlled on behalf of a rich few for 25 years. Zelaya's popularity suggests that an enthusiastic endorsement of Reyes followed by joint campaigning would have a major impact on the race, with the expectation that in the relative absence of intimidation at the polls (a possibility that currently seems remote) the Reyes faction will turn out in greater numbers.

Whether Lobo can be associated with the coup would be a major factor, because the Liberal Party's Micheletti has been, conveniently for the oligarchy, the face of the coup. As it is, Lobo, who narrowly lost to Zelaya in the last election, benefits from the Liberal Party split.

Another factor would be Zelaya and Reyes expaining to the public how it can benefit from a constitutional referendum. Another is whether the election can be delayed until constitutional order can be restored by Zelaya's executive branch including an investigation of the crimes and causes of the coup.

Even if Lobo wins, the crisis of the Liberal Party will lead to its tranformation or decline in favor of a party that better includes the voices of the poor in Honduras and gives the public the view that they can change policy through their participation, leading to electoral results more in line with neighboring countries.

As for the US and Obama, it is clear that the US diplomats knew that whomover wins the November election (Lobo or Santos) would be compliant to the US and thus wanted to do whatever they could to frustrate Zelaya's ability to use executive power from the time of the coup until January 2010. Measured and delayed US public opposition to the coup has attempted to limit erosion of US credibility abroad with the hope that the process of Zelaya's restoration be slow and that if and when Zelaya does come back, it will be with little time and limited presidential power to enact his presidential reforms and to push for a constitutional referendum. There's no reason to think Obama doesn't share that strategy, hoping to both hold off corporate media criticism over not doing enough to bring back Batallion 3-16 and being able to deny that he has anything to do with the repression of the coup.

@ Bill Conroy

Thanks for your comment.  The cotton candy fluff MSM sugar melt in your mouth "rehash" of previous information is an excellent metaphor for the MSM coverage and "analysis" of the coup in Honduras.  I thank you also for reporting of your conversation with Ozobia regarding Obama and the history the US has in Honduras.  This site helps me understand the people and their issues in ALL of America. The force fed cotton candy diet of MSM/US coverage is lacking in the nutrients necessary for healthy citizens.

Insight such as yours, plus your commitment to Authentic Journalism, is why I support you and future journalists trained by the School.

One more thought:  We are half way to the goal of raising $20K.  Those future journalists and organizers are counting on our $$ support.

.pdf file now smaller, pages in order

Thanks to reader Héctor's initiative, skill and volunteered labor, the .pdf document of the full poll results now downloads much more rapidly, and the pages are in order!

progress

Kudos to Lorie for reminding us about the fundraising. My understanding is a little different, though. I understood the fundraising goal to be $20,000 from us, which would be matched - for a total of $40,000. We raised just over $5,000, which was matched - for a total of $10,000. So it looks to me like we are only one quarter of the way there.

My $10 recurring monthly donation came out yesterday, and I believe I read earlier that recurring donations also count for the fundraising drive. Yah!  Just sorry I can't do more.

The recurring donation was so simple to set up, so if you are thinking about it, I encourage you to do it!

Taking liberties with numbers

While the poll itself is methodologically okay, I am disappointed with the liberties taken with interpretation of the results, which I think  seriously undermine this article's credibility - an enormous pity given the importance of the poll results.

Anyone with a minimal understanding of statistical analysis knows that to claim the following is just plain bad - and deliberately misleading - science. "Strip away the “no response” and the percentages among those with an opinion reveal a stunning 75 percent percent against the coup with only 25 percent in favor: an anti-coup margin of 3 to 1."

It is the sort of trick more suited to cynical and desperate politicians, the usual manipulators of statistics to present whatever they want to promote in a good light, and it is very sad to see such a practice here in Narconews, especially by "a former professional pollster," who one would reasonably expect to be familiar with this type of manipulation and to eschew it.

While the results of the poll itself are a welcome indication that a majority of Hondurans definitely oppose the coup (52.7%), and some of the other variables are also indicative of reason for hope that the Honduran resistance will ultimately prevail, much of the spin masquerading as analysis leaves a big credibility gap and renders what should have been a very useful contribution to the situation, pretty well useless.

Instead of being a piece I would happily forward or recommend to thousands, which I frequently do with Al's work, this is one that will have to lie fallow as 'some analysis' added for English readers would pretty much be an insult to their intelligence - but thanks for the link to the actual poll, which is itself certainly worth making widely known.

dodgy analysis

Great poll results, but some of Al's analysis is pretty dodgy manipulation of the figures!!! eg Strip away the “no response” and the percentages among those with an opinion reveal a stunning 75 percent percent against the coup with only 25 percent in favor: an anti-coup margin of 3 to 1.

 

That's the sort of manipulation more suited to politicians than journalists, and creates a bit of a credibility problem for the article. But the poll results themselves could be good news for Honduras - if they materialise...the question has to be asked though, if we can't trust a November election to be free, fair and genuinely representative of the general will (which I believe is the case) why should we be expected to take this poll as being any more legitimate - other than to reassure ourselves that the resistance has the moral high ground?

 

juliewp

@ Arna Gaby

Arna Gaby - I couldn't disagree more that extrapolating the undecideds away from a survey is somehow "taking liberty" with numbers.

Here's a trade secret: That's exactly one of the ways I was able to call the results - in advance - of 51 out of 54 presidential primaries in the US last year (as many Field Hands can testify; they were here when it happened). The people who state an opinion are generally the ones that vote, and a greater proportion of those who do not are the ones who disproportionately stay home.

Do you have any background as professional pollster, or managing triumphant political campaigns, or organizing successful social movements that leads you to the presumption that extrapolating among decideds is such "bad" or "misleading" act?

And how is it "misleading" if I gave you all the original numbers from the survey and then fully disclosed how I got to the extrapolated numbers? What information or truth was withheld? None, that's what!

Fortunately, "this article's credibility" doesn't get decided by you. The Frente Nacional en Contra del Golpe de Estado in Honduras posted the Spanish version on its website, among 100 other links already on Google that found it more worthwhile than you did. But they're all fools and you're the genius, I suppose.

If you can write a better analysis according to your own prejudices about what constitutes "statistical analysis" when it comes to politics, well, guess what? I've also made it possible for you to do that, by posting the original survey, too! You would likely never have seen it had I not found it and posted it.

But the world is full of know-it-alls that think a little bit of knowledge makes them all-knowing. Your comment smacks of that attitude. And I challenge you: You think a better analysis can be written? Write it yourself, Sir (or Madam) Grumpus! At least I sign my name to what I write.

Oh, wait!

"Arna Gaby" wrote:

It is the sort of trick more suited to cynical and desperate politicians, the usual manipulators of statistics to present whatever they want to promote in a good light, and it is very sad to see such a practice here in Narconews... much of the spin masquerading as analysis leaves a big credibility gap

And then Julie slipped in:

That's the sort of manipulation more suited to politicians than journalists, and creates a bit of a credibility problem for the article.

Oh wait! Are you the same person?

That wouldn't surprise me, Julie, given the frequent tone of your previous exchanges!

Picky posers are wrong

Well, I don't know where the folks above got their survey analysis training, but it is not out of the ordinary to exlude "no responses" in an analysis to better zero in on the particular information context — for example, likely voters.

Take a look at this analysis involving a customer service survey for the District of Colombia Superior Court (link here):

 

Among the respondents who identified their roles in the Court that day, over a third (36%) were attorneys in September. In February, attorneys were 47% of the respondents.

 

 

Total Respondents in September 155

Total Respondents in February 286

 

 

Percent (excluding no response) Sept 2004:

Attorney: 36

Party in a case: 15.1

Title researcher: 9.4

Paralegal: 2.9

Other: 38.1

Total: 100

The survey also then reports the precentages including the "no response" and the attorney percentage drops to 32.3 because the total 16 "no responses" were added to the total of 139 who provided responses and that results in a percentage shift [downward for attorneys] when the calculation is redone because the total sample set is increased.

The long and short of it is that Al's analysis is fine, and likely undercounts the coup opposition. Since if the methodolgy above was employed [which involves subtracting out the actual number of "no responses," as opposed to just subtracting the percentage, and then recalculating the percentage based on the new sample total, as in the above example, the percentage of anti-coup responses would increase [as would the pro-coup percentage, though the relative difference would remain about the same].

But that entails having access to a detailed level of the data, which I suspect isn't in the cards for the Honduran survey on the outside looking in — or would involve serious number entry and crunching. But the basic methodology of removing "no responses" is in no way flawed analysis, as long as the premise and conclusion are clearly stated, as they are in this case.

UPDATE: And as I reread Al's numbers, it appears he actually did get access to the actual response totals in order to recalculate the percentages after subtracting the "no response" number from the total sample. He can correct me if I'm wrong, but that would explain the 75/25 split, up from 52.7/17.4 -- precisely the type of percentage shift that would happen by calibrating the actual sample size to exlude "no responses."

 

 

 

statistics for dummies

I not only have a Master of Public Health, but I also studied advanced epidemiology, research design, and categorical and regression analysis with  the New Englsnd Epidemilogy Institute at Tufts University, so yes, I think I am on the right track with my criticism of the dodginess of Al's manipulation of that data.

To remove the non-responders from the analysis skews it to all heck - so I have no option but to agree with Arna that it is bad science. 

Nor do I think I and Arna would be alone in considering such statistical sleight of hand the frequent domain of politicians. 

Al's intention was clearly to exaggerate what the pollsters themselves did not do, for good reason - they clearly wished to preserve the validity of their data, thus its generalisability.

Al's manipualtion is a pretty well meaningless exercise statistically, because all he is saying is 75% of the 70% of people who responded, opposed the coup. Or as the original pollsters (and any other reputable researcher would) report, 52.7% of all responders oppose the coup. Why paraphrase anyway? That doesn't constitute "analysis"!!

I guess the temptation to use ratios estimated by excluding almost a third of the sample - because they sound 'bigger and better' than those produced by including all of the data - overcame any actual statistical knowledge he might have. This is pretty rich given his exhortations about the rigour of the poll methodology, a rigour which he then tramples in his manipulation of their results.

As Al counsels so often, journalists (like scientists) should stick to the facts.

The value of this poll is the clear indication of independent statistical data that there is widespread opposition to the coup, the principled use of which the media can and should utilise - with the same ethical and intellectual rigour the pollsters applied.

Talking up the results by selective data manipualtion does not in my opinion serve anyone's interests, raising as it does justifiable qualms re credibility.

If I am wrong, I await the deluge of statisticians leaping to defend Al's practice in this regard.

juliewp

@ Julie

Julie - I don't know what is more pathetic:

That you think having "studied advanced epidemiology, research design, and categorical and regression analysis with  the New Englsnd Epidemilogy Institute at Tufts University" gives you any knowledge or experience at all with political or electoral polling, or that only "deluge of statisticians," presumably of elite pedigree and background would be knowledgeable about how polling works. (It's a different field altogether than medical statistics, there's your first clue.)

Or that you refer to "Arna" as a different person without actually going out on the limb of saying that those coments are not also not your own (if one looks at the stunning similarity in the two comments, the key words, the language phrasing, it's hard to conclude that you're not the same person pretending to be two; now how dishonest would that be?).

Or that you would continue your dishonest claim that I've somehow been "misleading" when I've disclosed the raw data that I've added further analysis to: an honest person with a disagreement would simply try to argue that this is a difference of opinion in how such data should be interpreted, rather than continuing your (months old) vendetta-of-envy against me personally. It's childish of you, Julie.

You are wrong about this matter. My guess is you've never done any political or electoral polling, or managed a campaign that depended on good analysis of such data, and you have little idea of how it is different than whatever medical epidemiology you were taught in the elite higher education system. This is not a matter of tracking cancer or swine flu patients. It's political polling - a completely different animal.

But I think it's beneath contempt of you to go spewing accusations that I've been "misleading" when I merely offered an analysis you disagree with about one way to interpret data that I've fully reported here in its raw form, too.

In other words, If someone says "It's a sunny day, but look at some of these clouds in the sky" and you then accuse him of having "misled" on the fact that it is a sunny day because he also talked about clouds, you end up looking very petty and envious, with an axe to grind over discussions held here in the past in which you also didn't handle yourself very maturely.

 

Countdown to an apology owed

Kind Readers - I have just sent to Julie the evidence that the comment by "Arna Gaby" (whose words Julie cites as if it is a separate person than she) and her are the same person.

We know that because both comments were made from the same IP address.

Talk about misleading.

Let's see if the commenter is big enough to apologize to all of you for trying to deceive you.

10, 9, 8.....

- Al

Fact vs. Fiction

 

By the way, Julie or Arna or whoever you are, I have a masters degree in mass communications from Marquette University, which I attended on a research scholarship. That research assistantship entailed working for the head of the Mass Com department whose specialty was survey design and research. As part of that work, I was involved in conducting a host of surveys, some of them involving the impact of media on political issues and others involving more pure behaviorial/attitudinal research.

So if we are trying to pull rank here, that's my card in saying Al's methodolgy is fine; in fact it's often used in an advanced form of survey design called multi-variate analysis — which involves isolating various variables extracted from a survey (such as age, income and occupation) and combining them through the use of statistiscs to create a new variable that is then used as a point of analysis against other variables, such as media use.

For example, the actual voting results in the election could be compared with the "responder" variable through a Pearson Correlation analysis to determine the degree to which responding to the question itself and the act of voting are correlated [positively or negatively, if at all].

So creating new variables [with full dislcosure] is very much a standard practice of advanced survey research, like it or not. By removing "no responses" from the sample pool of a valid survey, all Al is doing is creating a new variable [responders] for further analysis. That doesnt' mean you have to agree with his analysis, that's a whole other question [though his track record on that front has earned him an international reputation, so think about that] but you are off base in trying to claim his methodology is flawed.

And I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to pull that card out of my hat, since I haven't had to use it in years; didn't think it even mattered in the world any more.

 

@Nancy M

Nancy, thanks for the reminder about the $$ goal.  Gee...right there in yellow and black.

the poll

 I think the pro-coup will argue against this poll that questions asked are biased (in their point of view).

Here's my point: they deny it was a coup.

We can therefore easily picture what will be their reaction to the poll.

"Of course people are not agree with a coup" ,"but it was not a coup, it was a constitutionnal succession"

"question should have been : "do u agree with the destitution of Zelaya in order to protect the constitution?" "

That's why it doesn't matter we know it's a coup, they will use it to disqualify the whole poll whereas it which shows a lot more.

Maybe it would have been better to start the poll with "do you think what happenned on june 28th was a coup d'etat". 

apologise for what?

We aren't all North Americans with a separate IPS each - in NZ we share houses, and we share the services including electricity, phone, and yes, even internet accounts!! Welcome to our world!!! Before making wild accusations the journo's I respect would at least have checked the electoral roll and discovered that Arna Baby and I are actually separate individuals who live at the same address. But I won't hold my breath waiting for Al's apology. FYI, nor do Arna and I agree on everything - but we do manage to treat each other respectfully even when we diverge in opinion.

Al, if you read my comments you will find that I have always, and continue to, address the issues, not the person. You unfortunately do not seem to do the same, but continually resort to personal abuse when someone disagrees with you or posits a different opinion - this applies not only to me, but it is apparent in numerous threads on this website. That is your problem, not mine.

As for my purported months-old vendetta - I disagreed with you once before (and was proved correct), and have had no contact with you since. You are the only person evidencing any kind of vendetta with your continued accusations and paranoia - maybe you should see someone about your inability to take vlaid criticism instead of shooting the messenger.

As for Bill' comments, rather than trying to pull rank, I was challenged as to my credentials and gave them. I also suggest that statistical practice does not change because it is applied to biology, polling, or anything else - it is a science and the same rules and techniques are used, whatever is being analysed.

Throwing around terminology doesn't alter the fact that Al's claims are bad science, and if Bill was as familiar with mulltivariate analysis as he claims he would know that removing a third of the sample, then performing said analysis would leave such small numbers that the confidence intervals would be so large as to  render the results functionally useless for the purposes Al wants to utilise them.

I thus amend my last post to read "competent statisticians" and note that none have responded...

My comments were made in good faith, to "keep the batsards honest" - that appears to be impossible, and I have more important things to do than continue this pointless exercise, and I suggest that so do both of you - even if only reviewing your stats textbooks.

 

Opinion Polling Doesn't Have Same Rules as Epidemiology

Well, if there is an Arna and a Julie on the same computer, fair enough. Must be quite the echo chamber in there!

The delusion is beyond measure. Julie's reference to "I was proved correct" was over her July claims that Obama had plotted and executed the coup d'etat in Honduras! Of course, people who believe something like that are also capable of believing that public opinion polling is the same as medical statistics because maybe somebody in an elite university told them so. But it's not. Not at all. Because an individual's opinions are mutable, ever-changing, and have many varying degrees of intensity.

For example, one can say that X percent of a certain sample has swine flu. Or X percent of a certain sample are pregnant. One either is or one is not. One can't be partially pregnant.

But one can (and many often do) have mixed feelings - or no opinion at all - about a political matter.

But if a public opinion pollster asks a population "are you for or against a coup d'etat," there are people who are clearly for it, people who are clearly against it, and people who for varying reasons don't have a hard opinion on it (or choose not to express it). It's not so iron-clad. As electoral pollsters can tell us from long experience, people who don't have strong opinions on major matters tend to coincide with those that do not vote.

Therefore, it is not only kosher to extrapolate those with opinions when trying to estimate the results of an election, but it would professional malpractice not to do so as one of the variables that one is measuring.

A polling sample is a particular universe. But there are universes within universes. For example, it would likewise be a completely worthwhile and professionally sound exercise to extrapolate what percentage of women, or men, favor or don't favor the coup d'etat. The same would go for what percentage of, say, Afro-Hondurans, or indigenous, or of a certain age group or income level favor the coup or not.

(Come to think of it, another sub-sample could be "people who share the same computer in New Zealand and think everyone in Mexico has their own computer and IP number!")

If extrapolating those with opinions as a similar subgroup is disallowed, then so is analysis of demographic sub-samples. And yet what do pollsters and political analysts talk so much about? They say, "So and so has got X percent of the black vote, and X percent of the women's vote." It's not only ethical and interesting, but it is also standard practice.

What is so untouchable about "respondents" as such a sub-sample?

It can all be boiled down to this: Those who think inside the carefully structured boxes of academia are clueless when it comes to politics and civ il resistance. And those who win these battles are typically those who think outside those boxes.

But to treat people's opinions as immutable, exact, unchanging and unchangeable, as if one is measuring how many have blue eyes and how many do not, is to treat people themselves as numbers and objects. Once one has accepted that kind of over-socialized thinking, one is pretty darn lost when it comes to analyzing or reporting on political and social struggles.

Wrong again, despite the insult

My two bits on this absurd comment and the insult Julie hurled at me even while she claims not to do such things -- make it personal, you know:

... if Bill was as familiar with mulltivariate analysis as he claims he would know that removing a third of the sample, then performing said analysis would leave such small numbers that the confidence intervals would be so large as to  render the results functionally useless for the purposes Al wants to utilise them.

Al already addressed the practical aspect of making comparisons between sub-sample groups in survey research.

Now we get to some simple math. Julie's claim about confidence levels is just bad science. The truth is that with survey methodolgy, a very small random sample can be used to accurately measure attitudes of a very large population. In this case, the survey sample was huge, 1,470, far more than actually was needed for an accurate random sample.

Now, to make this easy, do the calculations yourself. Go to this link, which allows you to calculate both the sample size needed and the resulting confidence interval for a survey.

You will see that 30 percent [the no responses] of 1,470 is 441, leaving a sample size of "responders" of 1,029.

If you use the confidence-level calculator at the link above, you will see that to attain a 95 percent level of confidence in a survey [meaning any answer is within plus 5 or minus 5 of the actual percentage result] that the sample size needed for the population of Honduars [nearly 8 million people] is only 384, if randomly sampled. So it would appear 1,029 is far more than sufficient to meet that test.

That's statistics, Julie.

 

Batsards!

See, Bill, now we're "batsards" (sic) who have to be "kept honest." The dripping resentment is palpable.

And as for these repeated calls for an army of statisticians to come and endorse my methodology or somehow it must be wanting, I don't see any of them coming forward to rebuke me (nor to back up J's claims) either.

Of course, I've never looked for validation from "experts" to call 'em as I see 'em.

"Non responders" are responding

This is probably a dead thread but I think Julie's cold "analysis" that 25% of "Non Responders" means 25% didn't have an opinion is just plain stupid.  This poll was taken in a country that has had a repressive and deadly coup in place for months, has killed, incarcerated and tortured people, has beaten diplomats and has even conducted chemical, sound warfare and disrupted supplies and services to a major country's embassy.  I'm surprised that only 25% of the population might have been afraid to offer an opinion.

I would dearly love to see the gender make up of that 25%.  I would be willing to bet it's skewed significantly toward women.  A while back there was some discussion that women were being disproportionately abused and raped by the military.  Nothing new there.  One of the major building blocks of all fascist regimes is sexual repression of women and gays which simultaneously serves to "toughen" up the fascist enforcers.

Remember the Bradley Effect, the idea that people lied to pollsters about voting for a black candidate because they didn't want to be thought racist.  For that matter I've caught myself in health surveys shaving 10 pounds off my weight for, after all there's every chance that in a month or two it might even be true.

 

Media coverage

I have not seen this poll reported in any newspapers to date which is disappointing.  Am I mistaken and if not, why do you think that is?

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About Al Giordano

Biography

Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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