Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bonehead Polling

Last Sunday's Chicago Tribune reported one of the most meaningless polls I've ever seen and then compounded the idiocy by drawing a false conclusion.

The poll question was, "Over the next two years, what should President Obama work on passing?"
  1. Legislation Democrats want
  2. Legislation Democrats and Republicans agree on
  3. No opinion
The results said 70% of Democrats, 93% of Republicans, and 79% of Independents chose the second answer, legislation both parties agree on.

Let's look at how inherently stupid this poll is. Reasonably informed Americans know that the Republicans control the House and the Democrats control the Senate. Since any legislation that won't pass in both chambers is a complete waste of time, the first response defies common sense (as would "Legislation Republicans want" had it been offered). It's not really an opinion poll except for the psychotically partisan.

The Tribune's interpretation of this poll is that "Most Americans, even Democrats, would like to see President Barack Obama compromise on legislation with both parties over the next two years." But nothing in the poll says that Americans want compromise. I'm sure Democrats and Republicans would rather achieve their own legislative objectives. The poll simply shows that most Americans recognize the futility of partisan legislation when the House and Senate are split.

The poll question could have been "What do you want Congress to accomplish in the next two years?"
  1. Nothing
  2. Something
  3. No opinion
Fortunately, most respondents chose "something." But did we really need a poll to tell us that?

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