WHOA misleads about WHOAful survey

WHOA reports that its recent “independent” survey found a majority of Placitans “want the free-roaming horses of Placitas to remain.”

Let’s look at those claims.

Was the survey “independent”? No. The survey was sponsored and paid for by WHOA, whose President, Patience O’Dowd, was closely involved in developing the questions. An independent poll is one funded and designed by a neutral organization that has no vested interest in the outcome.

Did the survey ask whether or not you “want the free-roaming horses to remain”? No, there was no such question. Nor did the survey ask callers in what part of Placitas they lived, and whether free-roaming horses frequented their subdivision, property, and nearby roads — key variables that would be expected to influence the opinions of those polled.

Was the survey fair and unbiased? Nope. An objective poll would have addressed the key issues residents have raised for years related to free-roaming horses, such as environmental damage, impact on wildlife, impact on the watershed, property damage, and public safety. And some questions were leading or misleading. For example, the response options for one question incorrectly implied that contraception, fences and cattle guards would be sufficient to “manage” the current overpopulation of free-roaming horses. Another item included irrelevant response options, such as keeping free-roaming horses on the Placitas Open Space (that’s not permitted by the City of Albuquerque Open Space Division). And let’s not forget that long, jumbled question about a loop road.

By avoiding key concerns and manipulating questions and response choices – something an independent poll would not have done – WHOA once again intentionally misleads the community to serve its own agenda.