I’ve said it before, I’m a bit of a “poll nerd.” I became fascinated by polls while I was in school and I took a class that broke down polling numbers, how they’re conducted, what makes them valid and how easily people can be manipulated by simply using certain keywords. So whenever I run across one, the first thing I do is look at the source. Then I’ll typically check out the method used to conduct the poll, and then the questions that were asked.
Well, earlier today I ran across a recent poll Fox News conducted that literally made me laugh. First, any poll done by Fox News is most likely pure garbage. One of the first rules of legitimate polls is to make sure you’re not trusting one done by a bias source. And Fox News is about as bias as it gets.
But what made me laugh was the fourth question asked: Which better describes how you feel about the way things are going in the world these days?
And I kid you not, these were the three choices for answers:
- Things are going to hell in a handbasket
- Everything will be alright
- Don’t know
First I laughed, then sat there in disbelief. You don’t ask a complicated question like that, then essentially only provide two real answers and one throw away for people who probably don’t care. Especially when out of the two answers, one is extremely leading (hell in a handbasket) and the other is about as apathetic of a positive response as humanly possible.
Then I scrolled down to the part where they asked the favorability of several well-known public figures in our government. And in this poll, 20 percent of the people they surveyed hadn’t heard of John Boehner – 20 percent. While nearly 30 percent had never heard of Harry Reid.
So, they’re citing a poll where 1 in 5 people had never heard of the Speaker of the House and nearly 1 in 3 had never heard of the Senate Majority Leader?
They’re asking these people about ISIS, our economy and the overall health of our nation, yet a fairly decent percentage of them can’t name two of the most powerful people in our own government.
When you have that large of a sample group that doesn’t even know who John Boehner or Harry Reid are, any findings of that poll are completely skewed. You can’t call it a legitimate poll when a decent chunk of your sample size is comprised of people who don’t even know the basics of our government. Let alone understand complex issues such as foreign policy or our economy.
And while Fox News heavily played up President Obama’s less than stellar numbers, what it didn’t point out was that even though his favorable numbers weren’t great (44 percent) they were still better than the Democratic party (43 percent), the Republican party (36 percent), the tea party movement (30 percent), John Boehner (21 percent) and Harry Reid (17 percent).
So, it isn’t really that the American people are against President Obama. What these numbers actually seem to indicate is that they’re absolutely sick and tired of the partisan bickering that’s plagued our government for nearly six years. Because even as unpopular as this poll tries to make President Obama seem to be, he still scored higher than the GOP, the tea party and John Boehner – by wide margins.
And it’s pretty safe to assume that as the overall approval numbers of Congress sink, so will the president’s. Obama’s favorability is directly linked to how functional our Congress is. And, as we all know, Republicans in Congress have made sure that our government does anything and everything but function. Because they knew that if they made the government as dysfunctional as possible, President Obama would suffer the brunt of the criticism.
But then there was question 19 in the poll, which was straight out of a right-wing talking point manual: Which one of the following issue areas will be most important in deciding your vote for Congress? 1. Economic issues such as jobs and growth 2. Social issues such as abortion and gay marriage 3. National security issues such as terrorism and ensuring a strong military 4. Fiscal issues such as taxes, the deficit and government spending.
Notice they didn’t say “women’s rights” or “same-sex marriage.” It was abortion and gay marriage, which are much stronger trigger words. The one that made me laugh was “ensuring a strong military.” That sounds like something you would hear in a Republican political ad.
Or take question #27 about the Affordable Care Act. The only answers given for respondents were “Bad thing,” “Good Thing,” “Mixed” and “Don’t Know.”
Those are laughable answers for such a complex question. “Mixed” is not an acceptable answer for someone who might slightly favor a law, but wants to see some changes. Answers should have been something along the lines of:
- Keep it, but needs a few changes
- Keep it as-is
- Repeal it and replace it with something better
- Repeal it completely
- Pass true socialized medicine, Medicare for all
Then you might have gotten a good feeling of what people actually thought about the law. Answers like “bad thing/good thing” sound like something a sixth grader might come up with for his Social Studies class.
But this entire poll was filled with leading questions and answers that were so overly simplified and vague, the results of this survey are more or less garbage.
Though we really shouldn’t expect anything more coming from a Fox News poll.