This is why it’s always smart to dig into a poll

It’s tempting and easy to take poll results at face value. I certainly used to for most of my life and even now still have a lazy tendency to do so. However, I’m beginning to discover that you always need to drill down into the poll at issue, either to discover what population got polled (and its not always as representative as you might think), or what the questions were. Today, Confederate Yankee caught an NBC-WSJ poll that phrases questions in such a way as to force an answer. For the uninformed, it would be hard to avoid being steered in the direction the pollster wants; while for the uninformed, it would be almost impossible not to be driven in the preferred pollster direction.

2 Responses

  1. It’s not an unfair question,exactly, since folks who answer “BAD” probably do believe we are not prepared to carry it out. The flaw is not in the text of the questions, but in the methodology. People could say “GOOD” thing or “BAD” thing for all kinds of reasons. To limit the answers to the reasons the poll-takers feel are the most likely ones is to give people who don’t share the specified reasons no possible way to answer the question. “I think it’s a ‘BAD’ (or ‘GOOD’ ) thing, but not for that reason, is not an option.

    By the way, Pete Stark is my Congressman, and he sends questionnaires like this to his constituents (and taxpaper expense, of course) all the time. I think he just likes putting words in other people’s mouths. It’s much easier to answer the other sides arguments, when you make those arguments for the other side.

  2. You have 2 uninformed for your comparison Book.

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