Why most polls suck

by thoughtfulconservative

Any one who reads me, or even hangs around me for any length of time, will find out I’m not a big fan of polls.

There’s just too many things that can tilt a poll one way or another.

Oh, you want me to name some? Gladly. Size of the sample, who’s in the sample, how the question is worded, the order of the choices, if my wife mouthed off to me this morning, if I woke up with a headache, if I’m getting ready to go out, ideological leaning of the one taking the poll, You want me to go on?

This is not to say there’s no value in polls. For example, I will use polling results in responding to liberals about some issue they are big on. I do this because liberals love polls.

For example, only 27% Americans believe abortion should be legal under any circumstance, in other words like it is now.

But I’m just playing with them.

Long prelude to get to this:

A new Gallup Poll finds that just 26% of GOP voters think a deal to lift the debt ceiling should consist entirely of spending cuts.

The vast majority of Republicans believe that at least some tax revenue increases are necessary, which is contrary to the current position of the Republican congressional leadership.

Nate Silver: “The Republicans in the House of Representatives are extremely conservative on fiscal matters and are significantly out of step with the public as a whole.” [emphasis mine]

via Most GOP Voters See Need for Revenue Increases.

I’m like, “Whoa. Really?”

So I looked up the poll. Here’s the table:

Preferences for Spending Cuts vs. Tax Increases to Reduce the Deficit, by Political Party, July 2011

This is one of those (frankly useless) polls that both sides can get something from. I guess pollsters do this so no one will get mad at them.

Because what Mr. Goddard wrote is correct. Because tax increases are included in every choice but one.

Clever, eh? I love how they did that!

And Republicans can say, “Half of the American people want the deficit to be reduced by mostly spending cuts.”

See how easy that is?

The more choices there are, the better chance to find a majority that favors your point of view.

But sometimes it’s hard to tell anything from a poll. In that same Gallop poll (3rd question), 51% of Americans are concerned the government would raise the debt ceiling without cutting spending. And (4th question) 46% trust Republican leaders rather than Obama (43%) to handle the issues concerning the budget and debt ceiling.

And everyone knows that web polls are even more useless, right? Like this one. I wouldn’t mind voting but they don’t have a choice that matches mine.

One Comment to “Why most polls suck”

  1. 72% of statistics are made up.

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