Monday, November 23, 2009

When Polls Mislead?

Some are suggesting that polls of everyday folks on really complicated or emotional issues are misleading at best, probably useless at worst.  Recent examples of this argument can be found by Mark Blumenthal and Joe Klein.  Some agreed with this position but focused more on how "the media" report the polls (or even the kinds of poll questions "the media" ask) rather than the polls themselves.  The topic is, of course, health care, and what the American public really thinks about a complicated piece of legislation that is longer than most Harry Potter novels, and a helluva lot less interesting to read.

Maybe most of us could just wait for something simpler, something a bit more cheesy.  A Twilight novel version?

We swerve awfully close to elitism when we ask how much the public really understands of the topics its polled on, but to be honest most research suggests the public offers answers to survey questions without really, truly, understanding what its being asked.  So elitism?  Yeah.  But also reality.

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