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Polls - Schmolls, why should I care?

walrus

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So Iraq was wrong, and now we have proof because a majority of the American people believe it? Why does anyone actually care what opinion polls say on any subject other than an election (which they can reasonably predict)? Did those of you who supported Pres. Clinton allow your support to be swayed by the fact that a majority of your fellow citizens believed him dishonest?

Have any of you met any of these "average citizens" on whom these polls are assumably based? Most people I meet on an average day couldn't explain in 30 words or less what form of government they live under, much less be expected to understand the complexities of modern politics and policy. So now many people seem to expect my opinion to be swayed because 1,000 randomly telephoned people (who happen to have nothing better to do but answer the phone at home in the middle of the day) have managed to form an opinion regarding a war in a country which most probably couldn't find on a map if the prize was a 1-year supply of scratch-off lottery tickets.

Folks, there are a lot of reasons to dislike Bush and disagree with the war. However, one of those reasons does not include the fact that Bubba (of Bubba's discount liquor and appliance supply) also feels the same way. Here are some other things an opinion poll of the wise American voters would have shown approval of:

Slavery
Wiping out Native Americans
Expulsion of the Jews
The Marcarena
Joseph McCarthy
Richard Nixon (twice!)

"Nobody ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the American people" - Abraham Lincoln
 

shuamort

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Here's why you should care, because they have an affect on the populous:

Do the polls affect elections? Some 1980 evidence
This paper finds that the relatively favorable standing of Ronald Reagan in the preelection polls helped to generate a bandwagon effect in the 1980 presidential election. The models tested here suggest that this effect was most pronounced among voters who had the weakest prior political opinions and hence were most susceptible to suggestion through the media. While the bandwagon effect that is generated is modest, after controlling for an array of other political biases, it is substantial enough to warrant further attention as the dissemination of poll results becomes an increasingly attractive news event.
Pollaganda — n.
1. Media polling used to manipulate public opinion and advance a particular bias. This is primarily accomplished by television networks, on which most people rely for daily news. (Those who rely on print media for information are less likely to be subjected to extreme bias, and more inclined to discriminate between balanced and biased reporting.)

Pollagandize — v.
1. To engage in pollaganda. 2. The systematic propagation of television media polls to manipulate public opinion by: first, saturating viewers with "reporting" which reflects a doctrinal bias; second, designing and conducting public opinion surveys which reflect that bias; and third, further proselytizing viewers by treating media poll results as "news." 3. Using pollaganda to induce "bandwagon psychology" (the human tendency to aspire to the side perceived to be in the majority), thus driving public opinion toward an original media bias.
Senator Griffin: "...my understanding as a politician and a candidate tells me that the bandwagon psychology is important in campaigning and that if you can get the public to believe that you are going to be a winner or that you are winning ... this has an impact on potential voters. ...and if during a campaign, I can find a poll and get it published that shows that I am ahead or that I am gaining, that is helpful to me."-
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Communication, "Projections - Predictions of ElectionResults and Political Broadcasting," 90th Congress, 1st Session. Washington, D. C.: U. S.Government Printing Office (1967), p. 220
 

Deegan

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shuamort said:
Here's why you should care, because they have an affect on the populous:

Do the polls affect elections? Some 1980 evidence



Senator Griffin: "...my understanding as a politician and a candidate tells me that the bandwagon psychology is important in campaigning and that if you can get the public to believe that you are going to be a winner or that you are winning ... this has an impact on potential voters. ...and if during a campaign, I can find a poll and get it published that shows that I am ahead or that I am gaining, that is helpful to me."-
Hearings before the Subcommittee on Communication, "Projections - Predictions of ElectionResults and Political Broadcasting," 90th Congress, 1st Session. Washington, D. C.: U. S.Government Printing Office (1967), p. 220

I agree, it works in that way very effectively, yet try as they might, they couldn't get it done in 04, lol.:doh
 

walrus

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Don't get me wrong, I in no way dispute that polls can be very powerful things. It is an unfortunate fact that many people do form their opinions based on what people around them say they believe. This can be charted with any number of trends and events which have captured the public fancy. My dispute is with those who seem to feel that because a large percentage of the American people believe a certain thing that that establishes it as fact. My beliefs about Bush, the war in Iraq, or any other issue would remain unchanged whether 99.97% of the population supported them or only four rubes in Butte, Montana supported them. Some, however, seem to want to use recent poll numbers as some sort of evidence that their point of view is correct. Again I say that large numbers of people agreeing with you does not make you right, it only makes you popular.
 
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