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Help Set The Progressive Agenda On Habeas Corpus

Hello Fire Dog Lake! The byline is not a misprint, and this is indeed Chris Bowers, formerly a full-time blogger for MyDD. In a little less than two weeks, I will be starting a new website with Matt Stoller and Mike Lux. In the meantime, Jane and Christy have been nice enough to allow me to post on Fire Dog Lake concerning a project we have been working on with The Alliance for Justice over the past month. Specifically, the project is a public opinion survey commissioned by the Alliance for Justice on Habeas Corpus and other civil liberties issues, and they are looking for input from the blogosphere on the construction of the poll. You can read the current draft of the survey here:

Alliance for Justice Habeas Corpus Poll Draft (PDF)

The current draft of the survey was written by Guy Molyneux of Peter Hart Research Associates, with some help from the MyDD community (for background information on the collaborative work that has taken place thus far, see here, here and here). In less than a week, the poll will go into the field. Appropriately, we will be asking Americans about civil liberties around July 4th. However, before the phone calls begin, Guy would like some more feedback on the survey. I am here today to ask the readers of Fire Dog Lake to check out the survey and, in the comments, offer him suggestions, revisions and other edits on how you feel the survey could be changed, expanded, improved or otherwise altered.

Alliance for Justice Habeas Corpus Poll Draft (PDF)

Now, there is an off chance that, like me, you are a polling geek who would jump at the chance to help draft a real public opinion survey and, as such, wouldn’t hesitate to read it over and offer suggestions. More likely, however, when presented with a proposal like this you may ask, “why should I help out some advocacy organization draft a poll on habeas corpus?” Either way, I can think of at least two good reasons why you should read this survey and offer suggestions on how to make it better.

First, polling helps set agendas. As such, the progressive netroots and blogosphere need to have a voice in how more polls are constructed. Whether we like it or not, polling helps campaigns, elected officials, and advocacy organizations determine how they frame messaging and construct legislation on a variety of issues. In fact, I would argue that they are right to do so because, when done properly, polling has been an accurate means of determining public opinion on any given issue for seventy years now. This poll will help not only the Alliance for Justice, but indeed the entire progressive ecosystem, determine how it will talk about Habeas Corpus another civil liberties issues in the national media. Further, it even has the potential to help determine how Democrats in Congress will approach legislation on this issue in the immediate future. Considering this, it is imperative for grassroots and netroots progressives to make sure that our best ideas and our messages are tested in polls like this sort. This is a process we cannot afford to sit out.

Second, as important as it is, polling is a political tool that has generally been out of the reach of grassroots and netroots activists. Simply put, telephone polls are expensive, and we in the progressive blogosphere cannot afford many of them. For quite some time now, we have struggled to find sustainable funding that will allow us simply to pay bloggers a living wage, or to provide them with health care. Given the shoestring budget on which the blogosphere operates, we just don’t have the resources to shell out $10,000–$20,000 on a single telephone poll. However, in this circumstance, the Alliance for Justice has offered to bring us into the process of drafting the poll, free of charge. So, we can take part in an important, agenda-setting process, and it won’t cost us anything. That sounds like a good deal to me.

So, help set the progressive agenda on Habeas Corpus and related civil liberties issues. Look over the survey. In the comments, let us know what you would like to see included in the survey that isn’t already there, and / or offer suggestions on how you think is currently in the survey can be improved. Guy Molyneux will be looking through them over the weekend, and incorporating your suggestions into his final draft. Also, even though I have to run for a few hours, I look forward to reading what you have to say as well. As I indicated above, I am indeed something of a polling geek, and any comments and questions people have about public opinion surveys are of great interest to me.

Alliance for Justice Habeas Corpus Poll Draft (PDF)

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Chris Bowers

Chris Bowers