Experts question methods in housing survey

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) -- Experts say a survey on the mayor's website is seriously flawed. The survey is an attempt by the mayor to get the public's opinion on setting up a landlord registry and mandatory inspections of rental units.
.
Dr. Chad McBride chairs Creighton University’s Department of Communication studies and he says, “It generates a kind of gut reaction in many people or it could create a gut reaction in many people about, what does this mean?"

Dr. McBride teaches students about how to conduct proper research.

We asked him to participate in the mayor's online survey about housing regulations that was created after the city closed the Yale Park Apartments because of code violations.

He thinks it lacks context and uses leading language.

Dr. McBride said, “I think if they really wanted to get a true sense of people's reactions they would need to explain more about why is this survey being conducted, what was the impetus for the survey, provide some explanations about what some of the regulations already are and why it's on the table that we might need to change some of these things."

He points to words such as “significant” being placed in the same sentence as ”taxes” as being a problem.

"Even just the word “significant” is leading in a way because what is significant? We don't really know what that means and so we hear significant and we may think, 'Oh my gosh, we can't afford that.'”

We had one of Dr. McBride's colleagues take the survey. He hasn't been following what's been going on with rental housing in Omaha.

Dr. Guy McHendry teaches Communication Studies at Creighton and he said, “I feel like I have given my opinion about something I'm not that well informed about. And so obviously that's uncomfortable because I think it's really important that if we're going to participate in the political process that we know what we're contributing to."

Jeff Cahill, the CEO of Warple the company that worked with the mayor to create the survey said, “I think we have some really good examples of how we’ve captured public opinion accurately - and the latest example is the fireworks Cahill that provided the mayor with information necessary to change ordinances.

“There’s no perfect survey mechanism - and if there were we would have known that almost half the country was going vote for Donald Trump, but Warple’s approach has shown to be accurate, effective and well received.”

Mayor Stothert released the following statement: “Warple is one of the many ways we to try to engage the community and measure public input. Warple is designed to see how public opinion changes over time, based on a person's knowledge of an issue."

You can view the survey here.