Sunday, March 22, 2009

Why polls always need to be viewed with caution

Mark Blumenthal, of Pollster.Com had a brilliant post this week on a subject of continuing interest to TC.

He noted that often:
...pollsters are asking about something that a lot of respondents have not really considered before. Some call these "non-attitudes." As a general rule, it is hard to understate how often ordinary Americans are oblivious to the controversies that seem oh-so important inside the beltway, on cable news or the blogosphere.

In the case in point it was a contrived debate over whether Obama was doing too much - as in fixing the economy, doing something about health care and tackling global warming. So, not surprisingly, when the pollsters asked about it, the results were completely contradictory. In other words, the whole controversy meant nothing to most Americans so the results of the poll were entirely a function of the wording of the individual survey questions.

In fact, the U.S. President has many responsibilities, and pursuing several priorities simultaneously is no big deal.

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