Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Why Polls Shouldn't Matter

If you want to find out what people want in dishwashing liquid, bath soap, toilet paper or deodorant, marketing research is the tool to use. Personal preference in items we use in our daily lives is part of our culture. We know what we like.

The same principle applied to politics is a disaster. I've made no secret of my disdain for polls and how the media use them to generate the stories that they want to promote. A recent study revealed the fruitlessness of polling Americans to ask them their opinion on political matters.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) conducted a survey of 2500 Americans, quizzing them about American civics. The average score of all respondents was 49%. College educators did a bit better, at 55%. Something that may or may not surprise you: political officeholders scored 44% -- lower than the average person surveyed. (Take the quiz yourself here.)

I'm not criticizing anyone who doesn't score high on the quiz -- we each have our own strengths and interests. But the ignorance of Americans that the survey revealed illustrates the worthlessness of polls that ask Americans their "opinion" about something going on in politics. As we saw from the survey of Obama voters, most opinions are based on ignorance.

Pollsters should stick to soap. Everyone else should ignore polls.

(For those who are curious, I scored 93.4% on the quiz.)

1 comment:

chupacabra said...