Proposition 46 poll: In the Sept. 13 LATExtra section, an article about a USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll on Proposition 46 was based in part on a survey question that contained an error.
The proposition would raise the state ceiling on damages for pain and suffering in malpractice lawsuits, require random drug and alcohol testing of physicians and require doctors, when prescribing medications, to consult a state database of patients’ other prescriptions.
The poll found that 61% of likely voters were in favor of the measure or leaning in that direction but that approval dropped when respondents were told of the proposition’s potentially high costs to the state — and declined further when they heard the main campaign arguments for and against the proposition.
One of the poll questions summarized those arguments and then asked respondents how they would vote on the initiative in light of that information.
Referring to one of the opposition arguments, the question said that Proposition 46 “establishes a massive new database filled with Californians’ personal medical prescription information run by the government.”
That statement was in error. In fact, the database already exists, and the question should have reflected that.
A spokesman for Consumer Attorneys of California, which supports Proposition 46, complained that the error likely skewed the poll results.
The bipartisan team that conducted the survey — Drew Lieberman of the Democratic firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Dave Kanevsky of the Republican company American Viewpoint — said the results would likely not have been materially different if the question had been phrased correctly.
“There are certainly instances when the difference of a few words in a question can create a very different response,” the pollsters said in a statement. “But given the structure and length of this question, and considering it within the context of the results on five total Proposition 46 questions in this poll, it is our professional opinion that different phrasing is unlikely to have altered the results significantly.”
“The Rule": In the Sept. 12 Calendar section, a film review of the documentary “The Rule” said that in Newark, N.J., “only 32% of its students pass the High School Proficiency Assessment (a figure cited by Gov. Chris Christie but disputed by the New Jersey Department of Education).” The Education Department did not dispute the 32% passing rate for the assessment; rather, the department disputed the governor’s use of the 32% figure as an overall adjusted graduation rate, which the Education Department said was 61%.