The 70 percent figure has been pushed hard by the official Iranian Press TV.
An opinion poll, conducted by the US daily news service World Tribune, shows that 70 percent of Syrians support President Bashar al-Assad, 20 percent say they do not support either side involved in the ongoing unrest in the country, and only 10 percent back the opposition.Big problem. Not only is the World Tribune a shadowy, obscure, web publication, but it clearly states it did not conduct a poll.
The sources said no formal polling was taken in Syria, racked by two years of civil war in which 90,000 people were reported killed. They said the data came from a range of activists and independent organizations that were working in Syria, particularly in relief efforts. (emphasis added)The World Tribune report is nearly totally unsourced. It says "a Western source familiar with the data," but it headlines misleadingly says "NATO Data" It describes "data, relayed to NATO" and a "report to NATO," but gives no real reason to think that NATO took the report seriously.
Should World Tribune be taken seriously? Look at their ties.
The following World Tribune.com content partners have both contributed articles and columns and have helped alert the worldwide web to its exclusive reports:
Moreover, as recently as July 2013, World Tribune reported that "Forensic findings on Obama’s birth certificate: ‘A 100 percent forgery, no doubt about it." A crazy, birther site isn't one that should believed by anyone, particularly by anyone on the left.
DrudgeReport.com Middle East Newsline GertzFile.com Breitbart.com The Washington Times Hoover Institution NewsMax.com Geostrategy-Direct.com Hudson Institute WorldNetDaily.com East-Asia-Intel.com Int. Strat. Studies Assoc.
Charlotte McDonald of the BBC points out that while YouGov poll interviewed 1000 people in 18 Middle Eastern countries, only 98 were from Syria.
This is a very low sample according to the managing director of survey company ORB, Johnny Heald, who has been carrying out polls in the Middle East for many years.
"When we poll and we want to find out what Libyans think, or what Syrians think, we would rarely do anything less than 1,000 interviews," he says.
"One thousand is the generally accepted industry minimum to be able to speak confidently about what people from a particular country think about an issue."If you say that this poll covers people from 18 countries, then that's fine. But you need to be very careful when you interpret the findings.
"It is not good to say that 55% of Syrians, for example, think that Assad should stay when only 97 people were asked that question."
248 supporters of the Assad regime, 152 opponents and a larger number who support neither side or prefer not to tell usIn percentages, just under 30 percent support Assad and 18 percent oppose.
This is not a representative sample: three-quarters are male, over half are under 30 years old, and just under 50 percent say they have a university degree.So, when we finally get to a poll that has some, limited validity, support for Assad is about half of the claimed 70 percent.
Pepperdine University conducted secret surveys in Syria in 2010 and 2011. Here is an article which describes how their guerrilla polling was done. The results of the 2011 survey were summarized this way.
Elizabeth Buckner, a PhD Candidate at Stanford University, however, raises serious questions about the scientific flaws and political biases of the Pepperdine study here and here.Eight out of ten Syrians surveyed want to see regime change and won't be satisfied with mere reform, according to analysis by Angela Hawken, associate professor of economics and policy analysis at the School of Public Policy (SPP), of interviews done for the Democracy Council of California.That latest "secret survey" results reflect face-to-face interviews with 551 Syrians collected between August 24 and September 2, 2011, despite an official ban on public opinion gathering. An earlier effort took place in January and February of 2010. "The most surprising thing about these results is that they could be collected in the first place," explains Hawken.
James Prince, President of the Democracy Council and a leading expert on Arab civil society, says, "This survey further illustrates the deep-seated angst felt by most Syrians. The Syrian people do not have confidence in the Assad regime. They no longer want to live in the Baath security state. As in other regional countries, the Syrians are fed up with the corruption, nepotism, and lack of opportunity in Syria. The people are searching for alternatives to Assad."
In sum, there is a flawed poll to go with whatever your position on Syria.