## Friday, April 13, 2012

### Catch of the Day

Very smart post from Kevin Drum, who looks at a polling question on Barack Obama's recent "hot mike" incident, notices that only 4% of respondents claimed to have no opinion, and concludes:

The problem is that although the question above is the one that was presented to people, here's what I think they mostly heard:
blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah President Obama blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Troubling or Not?
Yes!

The most important thing about reading polls, even more important than remembering that some results could be statistical flukes, is not to take the meaning of the question at face value. We know perfectly well lots of things about that. Seemingly small differences in question wording can have massive effects on the answer. And, as Drum points out, people who get to the point of the survey that they're asked about issues or candidates are generally very reluctant to admit ignorance or indifference, even though we know that there's lots and lots of ignorance and indifference out there.

See also a nice item by Jonathan Chait on a similar subject today.

And: great catch!

#### 1 comment:

1. Drum's piece is a repurposed Far Side strip. I like that he's comparing the electorate to a clueless dog named 'Ginger' and that the passage he thinks is beyond this electorate to have a reasoned opinion about is short and cogent. Maybe he'd just read The Myth Of The Rational Voter.

Liberal pundit thinks voters are clueless liars? 'Catch of the day' indeed.