Monday, June 1, 2015

Subtle Form of Torture: Controlled Polls and Slanted Questions

Simple Graph With Simple Choices for Responses 
(easy to measure results)

Two ways to look at polling, which is something I have always been interested in for a very long time:

First Example: Polling is prevalent in modern day politics, with most every politician utilizing and implementing polls to serve their needs. Politicians may even have a team of pollsters at their right hand in order to keep a steady grip and knowledge on polls.
  • Former President Bill Clinton was most famous for his excessive use of polling, going as far as polling to determine optimal vacations spots and pets for his family that could yield the highest popularity among voters.
  • Former President George W. Bush was certainly less flagrant in his usage of polls, but used them nonetheless to determine how to create a favorable outlook on his unfavorable policies.
Both of these presidents were aware of the advantages that effectively employing polls could have. Both were well aware of the multitude of uses and impacts that their polling could offer.

Thus, polling is no longer simply an objective questionnaire used to determine a popular opinion about something simple or easy to see the results quickly and get a feel for what the public really thinks (like the first chart above re: Opinion on the Iraq war in 2007).

It asks and answers this question: “What does this graph show?”

This graph is an example of a public opinion poll that asks a question about a specific issue with four possible answers. The respondent's opinions show their feelings on the matter below percentage. From the graph, it can be determined quickly that the public believes the situation in Iraq has gotten worse.

So, polling and its purpose and affect both have a broader spectrum of usage than ever; some good, some not so hot.

Second Example * current hot topic now in Congress: Refers to the two charts below that are supposed to be self-explanatory about public basically on the same subject, but are they really, objective?

One Set of Views

Second Set of View - same subject

It boils down to the question, how it is formulated but more importantly who is asked and how it is asked and sometimes even, when it is asked.

More so, it is evident that the use of polling is very beneficial but not always accurate. Polling analyzes the voters behaviors, however, if the poll itself is biased or unclear, the results are not as accurate as they were hoped to be. Polling is a necessary process, but is not always completely reliable.

Additionally, polls impact voters because people stick with the norm. If many people feel one way, others will be influenced and ultimately do the same. This constant cycle of people voting because others did that first, causes for further falsity in the results.

However, the results that are released are taken into consideration by the politicians and they govern based on what the public says. So, polls are at their greatest when they are accurate.

What we do not need are more highly-paid and ugly Ads like the next graph (cartoon actually) shows. You may agree or might not, but it does make the point I want to make with this post. I wonder what the poll results for this blog post would be (smile).

Thanks for stopping by and by all means answer the next pollster who calls for your opinion. It might just count - for what I am not sure (second smile - depends on who is paying for the survey, I guess)???

No comments: