Friday, September 13, 2013

Catch of the Day

An easy one this time, as Steven Benen goes the Ignore Those Polls! route with regard to the debt limit.
Let this be a reminder to the political world: there's nothing quite as useless as a debt-ceiling poll. Folks have no idea what the debt ceiling is, what default is, what bond markets are, or what the full faith and credit of the United States means, so polling on the subject tells us nothing.
Since my position is that politicians should probably ignore all deficit/debt polls in general, I obviously agree that they should ignore debt limit polls.

While I'm here: I'd also say that they should mostly ignore all "who would you blame" speculative polls about a government shutdown, as well. At best, it's going to give you just a bit more than basic party ID questions, but mostly, asking people to predict how they'll react to possible future political stories is just a waste of time. People aren't very good at understanding why they have the opinions they currently have; they're usually in no position to predict their future reactions. That goes double, of course, for something which they have very little knowledge about in the first place.

The other thing about the debt limit is that unless there's an actual catastrophe, the debt limit is purely symbolic. Which means (among other things) that unless people are out there talking about it, it basically doesn't exist in political discussion. It's still understandable that it's not a vote that Members of Congress want to take (and, of course, what they really should do is just get rid of it), but it's not as if voters are going to bring it up on their own a few months after it happens.

At any rate: nice catch!


  1. The great irony is that we ignore the polls on the debt ceiling because people don't know what they're talking about and yet we still allow Louie Goehmert to vote in Congress.

  2. I think that polls on "who would you blame?" can tell us more than party ID.

    They give us an insight into how the debate is playing currently in the public. Not much of an insight, and one that's not very predictive of how they'll react to different news, but it's something.

    I don't think it measures party ID; it just confirms that partisanship is the lens through which people view politics.

    In the end, I don't find it very interesting or useful, but that's mostly because of what its measuring.


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