Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The latest Fox poll

I was reading through the questions asked in the latest Fox news poll, which has Americans saying Bush is doing a bad job, Democrats are doing a bad job, Republicans are doing a bad job, the media is doing a bad job, etc.. I was struck, as I always am, at how useless polls really are, since they lack any nuance. What does it mean that the Republicans/Democrats are doing a bad job? For your state? For the country? In the war? Domestically? Fiscally? In presenting themselves in interviews? There's are also no questions asking the responding voter how well informed he or she is, what newspapers or TV shows inform him, what matters interest him. For all we know, the people giving these definitive answers haven't looked at a newspaper since 1953 and, though registered, somehow haven't gotten around to voting in the last two or three years. These binary questions (yes/no) with no context in the question, with no room for nuance in the answers, and with no context about the responder cannot provide the kind of in-depth information that should drive the political process -- yet that is precisely what these endless poll results do. It's as if politicians were told to bake a cake with a recipe that said:

Ingredients: eggs, milk, flour, sugar (with no amounts and no reference to other essential ingredients, such as butter, salt, baking soda, vanilla) Directions: Mix together and cook (for how long? at what temperature?)
No one in his right mind would attempt a cake with this spotty, incomplete information, yet the Gallup mentality that's shaped our politics for half a century has our leaders running around desperately trying to craft foreign and domestically policies based on exactly the same useless material. Hat tip: Real Clear Politics