July 25, 2005

WM Watch Distorts WSJ Reporting

It's hard for me to read Wal-Mart Watch, because I can never tell how (it is not a question of when) they will intentionally distort and misreport facts, figures, and quotations.

A clear brand-new example is in their press release that describes two of their paid-for surveys showing a decrease in WM's favorability rating from 59% in March to 50% in July. These numbers are good to have, but only inasmuch as we understand completely the methodology and context of the surveys, which is not provided.

Hence, I'd like to know a few things:

1) Did WM Watch pay Westhill Partners to perform surveys in-between March and July?

2) If so, what were the results of those surveys?

3) What was said to the respondents before asking the question, "Based on everything you know or have heard about Wal-Mart, is your opinion of Wal-Mart favorable or unfavorable?" Was there prompting or a script?

4) Was this the only question asked? It's very, VERY odd, to ask one and only one question in a poll.

5) Can we get the full uncensored report from Westhill Partners?

But more importantly, WM Watch distorts a snippet from the Wall Street Journal. On Friday, July 22 John Harwood reported in his weekly Washington Wire the two following sentences:

LIBERALS STRUGGLE for ammunition against Roberts, but claim progress in denting Wal-Mart's image. The activist group Wal-Mart Watch, which calls the retailer "an irresponsible corporate citizen," says its polling shows the company's favorable rating dropping to 50% from 59% in March.

He reports what WM is claiming, and takes no position. So how does Wal-Mart Watch construe this?

Wall Street Journal: ��progress in denting Wal-Mart�s image�

Here's a screenshot:


Um, no. The WSJ did not give its own support to the WM Watch poll, and neither supported nor parroted the WM Watch claim. Another example of Wal-Mart Watch just making things up.

UPDATE: It's a start. Here's the April survey:

10B. Wal-Mart (IF FAVORABLE OR UNFAVORABLE, ASK:) Would you say you
have a strongly favorable/unfavorable opinion or a somewhat
favorable/unfavorable opinion?

----- --- --- ---
Strongly favorable 25% 31% 20% 29%
Somewhat favorable 30% 32% 32% 24%
Somewhat unfavorable 15% 12% 13% 20%
Strongly unfavorable 16% 15% 13% 17%
Heard of but can't rate
(DO NOT READ) 11% 8% 16% 9%
Haven't heard of * 1% 1% -
Don't know/Refused (DO
NOT READ) 2% 1% 5% 1%
FAVORABLE 55% 63% 52% 53%
UNFAVORABLE (NET) 31% 28% 26% 37%
FAMILIAR (NET) 86% 91% 78% 90%

Note: Percentage less than 0.5 printed as *.

I have sent an email to WM Watch asking for them to release all the data.

Later: WMW has decided to keep the rest of the data in-house, as is their right. In response, I have decided not to trust their polling data. , as I cannot confirm that the political composition of the sample hadn't changed considerably. Well, by looking at the data, it seems that they force the sample into a 1/3 Repub, 1/3 Dem, 1/3 Indy mix, so one of my concerns is moot.

Posted by Kevin on July, 25 2005 at 09:47 AM