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HUFFPOLLSTER: Friday Pi Day Edition

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The threat from Russia is rising among Americans...but watch out for the context set by previous questions. Support for same-sex marriage appears to be accelerating. And TGIPD (thank God it's Pi Day). This is HuffPollster for Friday, March 14, 2014.

RUSSIA INCREASINGLY VIEWED AS A THREAT - CNN: "As the crisis in the Ukraine continues, a new national poll indicates that for the first time in more than a decade, more than half of Americans see Russia as a serious threat to the U.S….According to the poll, 69% of Americans say they see Russia as [a] threat to the U.S. 'That's a 25-percentage point increase since 2012 and represents the highest number on that question since the break-up of the Soviet Union,' says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland." [CNN]

But In foreign policy polling, context matters - YouGov's Doug Rivers: "Most polls, including ours, don't attempt to put questions into 'historic context.' We tend to ask questions and let people put them into whatever context they want. We asked whether 'the U.S. should get involved with Russia's dispute with Ukraine' without asking whether they know where Ukraine is, what the dispute is about, or anything else."

To test how much framing might influence opinions, YouGov asked half the sample on their latest survey simply, "Do you think the U.S. should get involved in Russia's dispute with Ukraine?" while prefacing the question among the other half by asking, "Do you think Vladimir Putin's actions in Crimea today are similar to what Hitler did in Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938?" and "Would you consider it 'appeasement' for the U.S. and other western democracies not to take strong action to defend Ukraine?"

Rivers: "Only 21% of those asked in the conventional way favored U.S. involvement in the Ukraine. When this question was preceded by the questions about appeasement and comparing Putin to Hitler, support for U.S. involvement rose to 29%. It didn't change the overall result -- a majority of Americans still oppose getting involved in the Ukraine even after the parallel to 1938 is mentioned -- but it does make a difference of about 8%....Even after mentioning Hitler, only 7% favored sending troops (compared to 5% in the normal poll) and 13% favored providing weapons (compared to 10% without the cue). The suggestion of appeasement did appear to raise support for economic sanctions and financial aid (by 7% and 8%, respectively) and slightly dampen support for negotiations."

SUPPORT FOR SAME SEX MARRIAGE IS ACCELERATING - Andrew Flores, the Public Opinion Project director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law: "Here is some evidence that support for same-sex marriage is truly accelerating. Below I compare how well two different kinds of trends fit the pattern in the polls: a simple linear trend, which assumes that the rate of change is stable, and a polynomial trend, which assumes that the rate of change is increasing. The accelerated regression line better fits both the data prior to 2004 and the upward trend after 2012. Additional statistical tests confirm that the accelerated trend does indeed out-perform the linear trend. This has important implications for where public opinion is headed. If the stable linear trend were the right one, then by 2016 just over 56 percent of the public would be expected to support same-sex marriage. However, the accelerated trend predicts that support for same-sex marriage will be about 5 points higher by 2016. It is appropriate to infer that opinions are trending positively and changing exponentially as time goes on." [WaPost's Monkey Cage]


IT'S PI DAY! - So of course we're quoting "If you’re in the US, at some point today your clock will read 9:26 on March 14, 2014. That means you’ll see 3/14/14 9:26:53, which is almost the most complete representation of Pi we’ll ever see in a date/time format — we’re off by just one one ten-thousandth! We’ll have to wait for next year for a truly massive blowout, but we can still celebrate the mathematical wonder that is Pi today. Do you know what that means?" Click through for "3.1415926 reasons to celebrate." []

Some celebrate with mnemonics... - Sasha Volokh: "Today isn’t the great Pi Day that we’ll have next year (3/14/15, some may prefer to round and celebrate 3/14/16), but it’s Pi Day nonetheless. In honor of the day, I offer an old mnemonic of mine. Some of you may be familiar with the classic mnemonic How I need a drink, alcoholic of course, after the tough lectures involving quantum mechanics: count up the letters in each word, stick a decimal point after the 3, and you get 3.14159265358979." Click through for Volokh's version, "which gets you to 167 digits after the decimal point." [WashPost's Volokh Conpsiracy]

...others with pie and acceptance letters... - Steve Annear: "When it comes to celebrating mathematical constants, MIT takes the cake. Or pie, actually. On the unofficial holiday “Pi Day, an ode to the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter—3.14—which so happens to be recognized on March 14, MIT’s Admissions Office will finally let students know whether or not they were accepted to the school. To tease out the big day the office posted the video [below], which features students getting splattered with actual pies." [Boston Magazine]

Some share odd facts... - The Census Bureau: "On Aug 14, 2012 the U.S. Pop reached 314,159,265 residents, or pi (3.14159265) times 100 million." [@uscensusbureau]

Some make YouTube parodies... - A "Pi Day Inivitation" [From the Association for Competitive Tech via @DCBadger, a parody of Rebecca Black's Friday]:

...others are less excited - Karen Kaplan: "In short, pi has been helping humans do cool stuff for about 4,000 years. But despite this illustrious history, pi is finding itself under attack by people who think it is only half as awesome as it ought to be. These folks are pushing to have pi replaced by the Greek letter tau, which has a value of 2Π. As Victoria Hart explains in the video [below], the thing that determines the circumference of a circle is its radius, not its diameter...In Hart’s view, pi is simply an unfortunate anachronism that has outlived its usefulness." [LA Times]

Ezra Klein's VOX celebrated by creating... - "A pie chart for Pi Day—where does the federal government spend?" [@voxdotcom]

...others by condemning pie charts:

-The "#onelesspie initiative... [to] celebrate PI day...How about cleaning up Wikipedia* by getting rid of those ugly, confusing, multicolor, 3D, exploded pie charts?" [Kaiser Fung/Junk Charts]

-"Happy Pi Day! Take action and redesign some pie charts today. Use #onelesspie" [@jschwabish linking to PolicyViz]

-"For Pi Day, the science of why pie charts are terrible...Humans judge position and length better than angle and area" [@kwcollins linking to Cleveland & McGill]

HUFFPOLLSTER VIA EMAIL! - You can receive this daily update every weekday via email! Just enter your email address at the bottom of this article or in the box on the upper right corner of the Pollster page, and click "sign up." That's all there is to it (and you can unsubscribe anytime).

FRIDAY'S 'OUTLIERS' - Links to the best of news at the intersection of polling, politics and political data:

-PPP (D) finds Clinton the most electable Democrat in 2016. [PPP]

-Amy Walter finds perceptions of Hillary Clinton much improved since 2008. [Cook Political]

-Only 18 percent of Americans say they’d like to live in a state that makes it tougher on gays to marry. [Bloomberg]

-Only 19 percent of Americans have experienced colder than usual temperatures that they attribute to global climate change. [Gallup]

-Frank Newport ponders why Americans aren't more worried about climate change. [Gallup]

-Although Vladimir Putin is unpopular in the U.S., Americans see him as a stronger leader than President Obama. [RCP]

-Marylanders approve of Obama and their senators, but not Gov. Martin O'Malley (D). [Goucher]

-Nearly half of women under age 35 have tattoos vs. just 25 percent of younger men. [Fox News via @jennagiesta]

-Charlie Cook finds "both seasonal and cyclical forces are working against Senate Democrats" in 2014. [National Journal]

-Ben Highton sums up the challenges Democrats face from national conditions (the economy and presidential approval) in two charts. [WashPost's Monkey Cage]

-Alison Lundergan Grimes' (D) campaign pushes back against Nate Cohn's pessimistic analysis. [Business Insider]

-Early television advertising for congressional elections has been heavier than usual, and nearly half the ads had an anti-Obamacare message. [Bloomberg]

-Wealthy countries are also among the most open with their data. [WashPost]

-The Census experiments with combining the race and Hispanic origin questions. [Pew Research]

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