What is the purpose of polls?

Friday, November 04, 2005
The question is rhetorical of course.

Are polls intended to gauge public opinion or influence it?

Recent polls on Bush's approval ratings have given hope to the Democratic opposition.

But look at these numbers:

Washington Post poll:

Democrat leaners...52%
Republican leaners....41%





Keep in mind that according to the actual voting habits of the American people in recent elections, the two parties are at parity with 37% and the remaining 26% are said to be Independent.

Now, is this another attempt on the part of media to undermine support for the president or are they just sloppy?

[HT: anklebitingpundit]


David Thomson said...

“Now, is this another attempt on the part of media to undermine support for the president or are they just sloppy?”

The Republican hating MSM are the unofficial partner of the Democratic party. They will do everything possible to damage George W. Bush. The way a question is asked in a poll can highly influence the response. This is the rule of thumb one should follow: the MSM are not worthy of your respect and should normally be perceived as enemies. They are unwittingly endangering the safety of your family and country. The MSM, on a practical level, are serious obstacles in our war on terror.

Knucklehead said...


I'm no polling expert but the public opinion polls I've taken a gander at seem to have questions designed to channel answers in a desired direction (generally the "liberal" direction).

The samples are then selected to hedge the bet and make sure the answers channel properly.

The report is then spun to make sure that those reading it get the message that the responses reflect the desired position.

These polls are used to turn up a measurement they want to use to attempt to influence opinion. In my most cynical moments I think they are actually designed to determine precisely how far public opinion can be moved in the desired direction for the purposes of rate setting (how much they can charge the Dems and Soros type gillionaires for PR and marketing services) or maybe just to quantify it for later electioneering purposes.

David Thomson said...

“...for the purposes of rate setting (how much they can charge the Dems and Soros type gillionaires for PR and marketing services)”

These people may be ideologically committed leftists. Still, we should never overlook the importance of money. The left-wing establishment is throwing it around like a drunken sailor. I don’t have any exact figures, but my guess is that we are outspent by at least a ten to one margin. Well do to conservatives comprehend the importance of donating directly to the GOP. Unfortunately, they sometimes feel uncomfortable around “intellectuals.” This is a major obstacle in our ongoing battles with the Left.

terrye said...

Sometimes I wonder how deliberate it is.

I do think that the press wants to weaken Bush so that perhaps.. just maybe... if they are lucky... he will resign, go away... whatever.

I do think Bush's numbers are down because of a very bad couple of months, but not this down.

Rick Ballard said...


The Demsm is overplaying a very weak hand in a couple of respects. The biggest one is the concept that W can be weakened. You can't weaken an opponent who will never again face the electorate. The Demsm tactic is as stupid as their hyping Clinton's job approval numbers as he was impeached. Who cares?

The second error being made is that they've kicked off the "evil 'Pub" campaign way to early. That may have been forced by the calendar on the Fitzmas issue because I truly believe that they were counting on an indictment of Rove as well as Libby. "Libby - who's he?" is going to be the response from the overwhelming majority of the electorate and it certainly appears that DeLay is going to kick Earle's butt pretty good in TX.

So what else is going on that can be used to gen up the "evil 'Pub" charge? That's the question, because the Dems have nada, zip - nothing in the way of a positive message.

"We're not them." does not win elections.

terrye said...


I am not sure how this whole Libby thing is going to play out. A lot of pundits think that it will have little if any lasting effect on the president.

I guess that depends, but I have not heard anyone outside cable news and the internet even talking about it.

The idea is to appeal to the desire of people to be on the winning team. They hope that if they can make it look like everyone hates Bush, then everyone will...that in turn will weaken the party as a whole because he is leader.

I can think of no other reason why every poll would be slanted that way.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

You have to remember there's feedback loop. First, Bush has high ratings. That has to be fixed. So, a constant stream of bad news about Bush is presented to the readers/viewers day after day relentlessly. If some of the bad news turns out not to be Bush's fault or to be irrelevant to Bush, that's not reported. After the voters have been softened up by these repeated hammer blows, polls are taken. Just to make certain that the polls get the right answer, they are taken in a biased way. If the numbers are bad, that is reported all over the place. If not, they are quietly forgotten. The bad polls in turn drive the numbers lower, which sets everything up for another round.

Why the MSM feels that "getting the president" in this highly artificial way is "the thing to do" is another question. It seems that the watergate model is the only means of approaching journalism left to these articulate but brain-dead people. Like the Democrats, they have no new ideas.

terrye said...


I thought the same thing.

They are trying for another Watergate.

Even the reporting in Iraq is following the Cronkite model.

I was watching Special Report the other day and Mort Kondracke, a moderate, made note of this. He said that the military said we were winning in Nam but the mews got so bad that the Congress cut off funding and forced a withdrawal.

I thought to myself, are you just now figuring this out?

So if Iraq is Viet Nam, then Bush is Nixon and Plamegate is Watergate and Cheney is Agnew...

and on and on and on.

But I wonder how long that will work?

Rick Ballard said...

"But I wonder how long that will work?"

The real question is when the Dems are going to figure out that it is not working at all.

terrye said...


Tonight on Special Report Mort Kondracke justified the press asking Bush questions about Rove when he was in Argentina. He said based on the polls the president should expect to be questioned about his truthfulness.

He seemed to think Bush should give a speech or something. dumb.

He said that if the president's numbers were that low then the press should ask those kind of questions.

So I guess that kind of reinforces meaningless hot air's point.

Anonymous said...

Mickey Kaus coined a great word for polls like this , "hamburger helper". They are taken right after very one-sided anti-Administration stories, to a skewed sample, involve preposterous sorts of questions, and usually hide the relevant data about the poll.

They have only one purpose:To allow the author of the piece to print editorial comment under the guise of a news article.