March 7, 2010

Can we believe the polls that say a big majority of Americans oppose the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United?

No, because the people surveyed mostly only knew about the case from the description given by the pollster. Here's the way ABC/Washington Post tried to get its unprepared respondents up to speed:
Changing topics, do you support or oppose the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that says corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
What percentage of those surveyed do you think understood "spend" to exclude contributing money to the candidate?  20%? I'm saying 20% to be snarky, because that's the proportion of respondents who approved of the decision. My real point is, the survey is utter trash. Worse than utter trash, because it propagated misinformation.

21 comments:

John said...

It is an old trick Ann. They run these polls because they have an agenda. They want people to think that the opposing view is out of the mainstream. So, you run a poll like this. The object is to get people who are casual or soft supporters of the other side to switch because they think the otherside is extreme.

G Joubert said...

After the embarrassing "Dewey Beats Truman" debacle political and media pollsters spent the next 30 years rehabbing themselves, mainly by scrupulously adhering to standards and ethics designed to promote accuracy and impartiality in public opinion polling. Dewey Beats Truman was a white-hearted but empty-headed error. What we see now are not errors. These are by design, because over the next 30 years they discovered and developed ways they could use polls to proactively form and shape public opinion. It's now gotten to the point that you can't believe polls anymore.

Peter V. Bella said...

Can the Democrat Party and its President believe the polls that say 75% of the American people are against the Health Care atrocity?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Is it propagated misinformation or just willful disbelief that allows someone to propose that such a distinction would have made much of a difference in the polling numbers?

To be charitable, I'm guessing that at that point the numbers would become slightly less skewed, because the issue becomes more complex and straightforward conclusions become more difficult to draw. But it's not like you'd let an informed electorate get in the way of what you want or anything.

rcocean said...

Polling cliche - You can get any result you wish by how you word the question.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Althouse laments the fact that poll respondents are too dumb and unprepared to understand what's going on in their own country, and yet...Althouse encourages corporations and unions to spend unlimited millions to try and influence their vote. Ha.

Bob_R said...

Propagating misinformation is in the ABC/Washington Post Mission statements.

Joe said...

I have a colleague who is livid over the decision. I explained what the decision really was and he said he agreed with it and even went on a rant that SUPPORTED the decision. Weeks later, he was back to claiming that the decision allows unlimited campaign contributions.

Bob_R said...

ZPS is under the impression that average Americans have nothing better to do with their lives than be well informed about the finer details of a SCOTUS decision on campaign finance reform laws. Those of us who know this stuff (and are not teaching/taking con law) should feel at least a mild sense of shame. (He said, knowing he should be doing something better than commenting on this.)

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Yes, how dare the media mislead you, you delicate, naive American voter! Now, here. Watch this $50 billion dollar ad campaign from the Concerned Citizens Against Obama Who Is Leading The Country Into Muslim Abortions And Socialism.

Bob_R said...

Sorry, ZPS. You are the one who is saying that there are good corporations (ABC/WaPo) that can say whatever they want and bad corporations that need to be silenced. I think it's only your confirmation bias that supports the distinction.

brian said...

Zachary, that $50 billion has been badly spent since I haven't seen any of those ads by Concerned Citizens Against Obama Who Is Leading The Country Into Muslim Abortions And Socialism. Too bad, because I'd be grateful for something that would crowd out from the ad marketplace that filet-o-fish ditty McDonald's is running.

edutcher said...

This is why guys like Rasmussen thrive. You hear CBS/NYT poll and you're immediately suspicious. Rasmussen, or someone like him, is pretty aboveboard with questions, methodology, etc., so you can pick and choose whether you buy the results. When you see Demos were consulted 2 to 1 in some of these network/MSM polls, it's tough to take them seriously.

And, no, ZPS, most people have to worry about house and kids and stuff like that so they can't spend every waking moment surfing the Net. This is what you Lefties count on.

Althouse's pint is that she supports free speech for everybody, I'm assuming, not just SEIU and ACORN.

rcocean said...

Polling cliche - You can get any result you wish by how you word the question.

Ain't it the truth; and the same people who tell you nine out of ten dentists use Pepsodent are the same ones running most of the other polls.

Zachary Paul Sire said...

Is it any different than the SEIU campaign- eighty million dollars in an all out national blitz- to elect Democrats and a Democrat President?

Is what any different?

Like I said, corporations AND unions get to spend as much as they want to influence people who, according to Althouse, are stupid. Or, maybe they're just too busy and missed the story, which dominated headlines for over a week and was a key part of the President's SOTU address. Right.

NewHam said...

Why Ann, it's almost as if you're a Campaign Finance Reform denier.

The consensus is in. The science is settled you see: people disagree with the Supreme Court. Therefore, we need a new campaign finance law to be implemented immediately and not ruled un-Constitutional for another 8 years.

Here's what we should believe about polls on this topic: they're irrelevant.

Most people don't believe that we should allow abortion, either, but the Supreme Court has ruled otherwise and the political elite isn't agitating for overturning that decision so far as I can tell.

But the elite is united on this issue.

The table is being set for the Congress to usurp the Supreme Court and try to steal our First Amendment rights back from us.

Make note of it. It's dangerous. They're deliberately lighting a fuse.

Revenant said...

I think Althouse's point about the poor quality of the survey is a good one.

But even if the poll was reasonable and accurate, what of it? Free speech isn't up for a vote. Congress is forbidden by the Constitution from restricting it. So whichever people disapprove of the decision can just emigrate if they don't like it.

NewHam said...

"Free speech isn't up for a vote. Congress is forbidden by the Constitution from restricting it."

Yeah, but they don't see it that way.

It took eight years for this unconstitutional law to be struck down. Untold amounts of speech were outlawed while this case was slowly working its way through the court system.

Now, the elite are prepping the media battlefield for enacting the next un-Constitutional limitation on our speech. To get themselves another eight years down the road.

There's no dis-incentive for Congress to restrict speech with new un-Constitutional laws. And they know it.

So, it's our duty to find new guards for our liberty.

From Inwood said...

Good Grief

We don't need analogies here. GIGO.

Also, after reading the result of this Q, one must ask: does this result make sense?

Now, a survey of how many are voting for Obama & how many for McCain makes sense at some level (assuming it's based on a representative sample & not loaded with a preamble such as: "Candidate McCain says he's going to take away a woman's right to choose.”)

I saw a report that 1 out of 5 people eat Rice Krispies for Breakfast, based on the amount of RK cereal boxes sold. But then someone pointed out that RK are (is) a "base" & many people who can't stand 'em as a cereal eat 'em up when in some marshmallow treat.

But there is a visceral reaction among people who hear the Q asked here, which is best explained by Joe's anecdote.

As Mark Twain said about science "one gets such wholesale results of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

And PKB: perhaps you're right, if I understand your point, that the support for dumping Obamacare does not necessarily represent people who have studied the Bill, but who know that Socialism doesn't work. Ever.

John Stodder said...

Althouse laments the fact that poll respondents are too dumb and unprepared to understand what's going on in their own country, and yet...Althouse encourages corporations and unions to spend unlimited millions to try and influence their vote.

But is that really what Althouse said? She's talking about the wording of a poll question. The question contained within it a misleading statement. In polls, people assume the questioner is stating the facts to which he wants a reaction. That's why push polls are an effective tactic. It's essentially masking a political message in the guise of an objective statement of fact.

This was, in fact, a push poll. Increasingly, the agendaized media is using them to shape the debate. Stay tuned: I bet you'll see a lot of "Obamacare making a comeback in public opinion" surveys released the next few weeks, which will be based on tortured or misleading questions like this one.

Palladian said...

ZPS knows more about smoking poles than writing polls.

Some of us are good at both.

Fen said...

Yes, how dare the media mislead you, you delicate, naive American voter! Now, here. Watch this $50 billion dollar ad campaign from the Concerned Citizens Against Obama Who Is Leading The Country Into Muslim Abortions And Socialism.

*snicker* Classic irony.

Hey Libtard, what about the $50 billion ad campaign from ABC/Washington Post?

You're one that swallowed the line "some pigs are more equal than others".