Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Who The Hell Is AP/Ipsos Anyway

You're not going to believe this one. From No Pasaran:

The most recent AP-Ipsos poll, released on November 11, brought bad news for President Bush
writes John Rosenthal.

The headline told the story: "Poll: Most Americans Say Bush Not Honest". Coming just after the indictment of vice presidential aide "Scooter" Libby for perjury in the so-called CIA leak affair, the implication was clear: the majority of Americans were beginning to get what Democrats and Frenchmen had understood all along (or almost): "Bush lied!"

But this was not the first time that an AP-Ipsos poll had been the bringer of bad tidings for the President. … Why, if one were to judge by AP-Ipsos polling, one would have to conclude that American attitudes toward their President -- and indeed themselves! -- were beginning to seem positively… well, French. Americans were finally acknowledging that they were mistaken for re-electing the malevolent boob -- and that they were themselves uncivilized and fat to boot.

But, then again, if one were to judge by AP-Ipsos polling, George Bush would not have been re-elected in the first place. On October 22, 2004, just ten days before the presidential election and at a time when other polls almost all showed Bush in the lead with just a smattering of ties, the AP released an Ipsos poll showing John Kerry with a three-point lead. …

So, maybe Americans are not turning French, after all. Maybe the anomalous AP-Ipsos results have to do rather with the firm that is doing the polling.

What exactly is Ipsos?

Read the answer (the one neither the American nor the French MSM will tell you).

AP press releases identify Ipsos coyly as an "international polling firm". Ipsos's own releases on its AP work describe the company as "a leading global survey-based market research company" -- as well as "non-partisan" and "objective". One would hardly expect them to say otherwise. But here is what neither AP nor Ipsos want Americans to know and assiduously avoid saying: Ipsos is a French polling firm. Not that this should matter per se. But AP and Ipsos undoubtedly fear that to many Americans it might or that, in light of the current climate of Franco-American relations, it might at least raise some doubts about Ipsos's impartiality and objectivity.

And what is worse: about this particular French polling firm, these doubts would be highly justified. On its home market, Ipsos is well known precisely for the unreliability of its polls and for being especially tight with the French political establishment.

Here's how a November 2001 profile in the French economics weekly l'Expansion described the cozy relationship of Ipsos co-President Jean-Marc Lech to the occupant of the Elysée Palace:

During the two seven-year-terms of François Mitterrand, he was one of the advisors to the prince and he held open house at Copenhagen, the famous restaurant on the Champs Elysées not far from the "castle". Since he began working for Jacques Chirac, he has left the Champs and stays put in the XV arrondissement at lunchtime. Now, he merely delivers his confidential polls personally to the antechamber of the President.

According to the latest Ipsos financial report, a holding company controlled by Lech and his partner Didier Truchot controls 35 percent of Ipsos capital and nearly half of the voting rights in the firm. Ipsos's international expansion in the late 1990s was, incidentally, largely financed by the Artémis investment group of French businessman François Pinault. This is the same Artémis and the same Pinault that were heavily implicated in the Executive Life fraud and that only avoided being indicted in US courts presumably through the intercession of Pinault's close personal friend Jacques Chirac and by coughing up some $185 million. Artémis sold its stake in Ipsos when the firm went public in 1999.

There's more, and you can go read it at Tech Central Station: