Category Archives: polls

Fun With Polls

This is cute:

Americans like Witches, the IRS, and even Hemorrhoids better than Congress

Raleigh, N.C. – While Congress remains divided amidst the government shutdown, Americans are united in their disapproval of the legislating body. Of registered voters polled, 85% disapprove of the job Congress is doing. Only 8% approve- Democrats, Republicans and Independents are almost equally united in their distaste for Congress, with only 7%, 10% and 8% approving respectively. Very conservative voters differed slightly with a support of 15%.

[…]

Americans currently have a higher opinion of witches (46/32), jury duty (73/18) and hemorrhoids (53/31) than Congress. Republicans seem much more accepting of Congress over hemorrhoids compared to other voters — 41% favored Congress more than the diseases, as oppose to only 25% of Democrats and 27% of Independents.

Wow. Republicans like Congress more than hemorrhoids? There’s a joke in there somewhere.

Still, it’s not all bad news for Congress:

Half of registered voters have a higher opinion of Congress than of Anthony Weiner right now (50/23). In fact, public figures are some of the only people that registered voters dislike more than the legislature. Americans thought higher of Congress when asked about Vladimir Putin (49/28), Charles Manson (56/18), Honey Boo Boo (42/33) and Miley Cyrus (36/31) – with ‘twerking’ also four points below Congress at 37/33.

Poor Miley Cyrus. She gets such a bum rap.

Meanwhile, Dave Weigel debunks Fox News’ “Obama is tanking in the polls” meme. This is your right wing information bubble at work, folks. You’d think they’d have figured out that it’s not working for them.

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>I Blame The Liberal Media

>I’m not a big fan of polls, but I thought this new one from Pew Research was interesting:

• About half of Americans think the debate over spending and deficits has been “generally rude and disrespectful,” including 48% of Republicans and Democrats as well as 57% of independents.
• The percentage of Americans who feel that the Republicans are better at handing the deficit dropped from 35% after the election to 21% currently.
• The percentage of Americans who feel President Barack Obama is better at handing the deficit has also dropped from 24% to 20%.

• About 75% of Tea Party supporters back the GOP budget plans after the election, that figure has dropped to 52%.

Hmm… maybe, just maybe, anti-Muslim hysteria and a focus on abortion might not have been the deficit reduction plan folks had in mind. Just maybe people are thinking that tax cuts to millionaires and corporations while cutting funds to schools and fire departments isn’t the solution they wanted.

What’s interesting to me is that Republicans and Tea Party leaders blame voter impatience. I’m thinking … no, at least, not as far as budget deficits are concerned. I think people understand that you don’t vote in November, have your representatives sworn into office in January, and see results by March.

I’m thinking that people are pissed off that jobs and the economy still suck after so many years. It’s really that simple.

It’s the same thing that pissed people off in 2004, 2006, 2008 and November 2010. And it will continue to piss people off in 2012 and 2014 and 2016 unless somebody, somewhere, goes after the real problem, which is outsourcing of jobs and wage stagnation and widening inequality between the haves and have nots. These are systemic problems that have no easy answers and they won’t be fixed in three months, let alone two years. Tackling healthcare reform was a huge step in that direction but the institutional powers that be pushed back so hard against it, we ended up with very modest changes that really didn’t reform much at all. This is a sign of what’s to come, people: I’m afraid we’re in a situation where we have to fight tooth and nail for tiny, incremental changes like this in everything, which means we’re going to be in this situation for a long, long time.

It’s kind of sad that the media doesn’t get it. We’ve been in a recession for a really, really long time — since long before the market crash of 2007. I remember blogging about all the people left behind from the supposed “Bush boom,” and Republicans calling me “angry” and “negative” and a “blame American first” kind of person who suffered from “Bush derangement syndrome.” I mean seriously, am I the only one who remembers these conversations from 2004? Am I the only one who remembers arguing with Bill Hobbs every time he blogged about how terrific the economy was? Am I the only one who remembers George W. Bush telling a divorced mother that it’s “fantastic” and “uniquely American” that she works three jobs? As if she wanted to?

America has been in a downward spiral for a long time, folks. This isn’t some new phenomenon that just popped up when the real estate bubble burst. And I think what surveys like this one from Pew show us is that Americans understand this yet don’t know what to do about it, because we have so little control over anything. We’re basically offered a choice between dumb and dumber every two years and people are getting frustrated and maybe a little frightened.

I know I am.

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>Things Change

>Remember the GOP’s ”Unprecedented 10-point Lead” on the generic ballot?

All gone now.

NOW can we stop paying attention to stupid, meaningless polls?

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>Spin Control

>Our discourse is so warped, jaded and spun that we sometimes can’t even see the spinning wheel behind the bias. Such was my thought when I linked to Athenae’s post rewriting Liz Sidoti yesterday , and such is my thought as I read Eugene Robinson on the New York mosque issue today.

The money quote:

A CNN poll showed that 68 percent of Americans opposed a plan by “a group of Muslims in the U.S.” to build “a mosque” two blocks from the World Trade Center site. I wonder what the results might look like if pollsters had phrased the question differently — if they had asked, say, whether “a group of Americans” should be allowed to build “a center promoting moderate, peaceful Islam.”

Yes, one wonders, doesn’t one? CNN didn’t phrase the question that way, though. They took the Republican talking point–ZOMG! A mosque! Near Ground Zero!–and used that as the basis of their poll. They reinforced the prevailing narrative which came straight out of Frank Luntz’s Little Shoppe Of Bullshit. We see this time and time again with issues as serious as war and healthcare policy or as silly as a “beer summit” and Lindsay Lohan’s jail time.

Public opinion polls are for the most part meaningless drivel which allow the news media to pretend to cover an issue without actually covering it. They can cover the spin, not the facts. It’s laziness disguised as crack journalism.

Here’s an interesting thought:

So now, whenever I see the results of a poll that pretends to speak for the “majority” of Americans, I wonder how that poll question could have been framed differently to achieve a completely opposite result.

When I read “88% of Americans don’t like their government,” I wonder what the results would be for a poll that asked, “Would you prefer to live in a country without roads, schools, laws, police and pollution controls?”

When I see “80 percent like the insurance they have now,” I picture a poll asking, “Do you want an insurance plan that raises its rates without warning, decides what illnesses can and cannot be covered and can cut off your coverage at any time?”

We don’t see polls like that, of course. But next time you read of a CNN (or USA Today or any other poll), you might, just for shits and giggles, rewrite the poll questions in your head.

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>A Self-Perpetuating Myth

>Yesterday’s New York Times carried an excellent story about exit polls and how they create self-perpetuating media myths:

[I]n five states, voters in Republican contests were asked their religious affiliation, and in four states they were asked how frequently they attended religious services. Voters in Democratic contests were asked those questions in only three states.

In four states, voters for Republican candidates were asked how much it mattered that a candidate shared their religious beliefs. Nowhere was that question put to voters for Democratic candidates.

And most notably, in every state voters in Republican caucuses and primaries were asked if they were born-again or evangelical Christians. Voters in Democratic caucuses and primaries were never asked.

The media has long perpetuated the myth that all Christians (especially Evangelicals) are Republican. They support this myth by presenting far-right people of faith like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed and Richard Land as the face of American Christianity. Even though American Christianity is far more diverse than that, and even though there are prominent and influential people on the religious Left — Jim Wallis, Sister Joan Chittister and Rev. Welton Gaddy are three names that come to mind — and even though these leaders represent millions of faithful, they are rarely invited to participate in news panels and their views are rarely offered to the public. It’s as if they don’t exist.

Of course they don’t exist. Because the media has already decided on the storyline: Christian = Republican. Why present any views that differ from that? Why, in an exit poll, would anyone want to ask Democrats if they are Christian? We all know that all Christians are Republican!

This is what I hate about exit polls and the Corporate Media. They aren’t interested in facts, or real news stories. They’re only interested in spreading their approved version of the facts. They only want to tell their approved version of the story. Who are you going to believe: ABC News, or your own lying eyes?

The National Election Pool conducts state and national exit polls. It consists of representatives from the corporate media: ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX, NBC and The Associated Press. The exit poll questions asked, according to the article, are “what the polls’ “journalist clients” feel is most important for their articles.” In other words, the corporate media comes up with exit poll questions based on stereotypes they’ve created about the two political parties. And I think these stereotyped views are evident in the corporate media’s day-to-day political coverage, too.

I’m not the only one. Evangelical leaders have complained about this disparity in exit polling, but their complaints have fallen on deaf ears. Sorry, folks, the story has already been written:

In the meantime, the nine unhappy evangelical leaders fear a kind of vicious circle. Is “an outdated script” about religion and Republicans, in Mr. Dean’s phrase, unduly influencing the exit poll questions, the answers that are in turn influencing reporting and analysis by reporters, newscasters and pundits, which in turn influence future poll questions. Is campaign coverage and discussion being diverted from new developments among both evangelicals and Democrats?

Of course it is. And it’s not just the media’s assumption about Christians. It shows up in a whole variety of other places.

For example, the media always assumes that people in the military are Republican. But the military is as much a cross-section of America as any other profession. Trust me, there are plenty of Democrats in the military–especially since so many Republicans these days have better things to do than fight their precious Iraq War.

Exit polls will continue to paint a skewed portrait of American political views, as long as the media insists on weaving their pet narratives into the process.

And media coverage of American political life will continue to suck, as long as the corporate media only asks those questions to which it already has the answers.

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