Study: How a Poll Question is Asked Influences Results

j0427673This is a great illustration of the ignorance and self-centeredness of many Americans…and how that can be manipulated by pollsters.

CNS News article (written by AP, so beware) examines an AP poll conducted by Stanford University and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that found what some of us already knew: wording (and inflection, sometimes) matters when asking poll questions.

Tell Americans that letting the government sell insurance in competition with private industry would be cheaper for them, and a majority is in favor.

Tell them the government would be making decisions about what medical care they could get, and support sinks.

The findings from an Associated Press poll come as lawmakers struggle to advance President Barack Obama’s signature health care overhaul, with the final shape of any government insurance plan very much in doubt. The issue has been the biggest flash point in the health care debate, and the poll results underscore that how it is defined can make a big difference in the public’s response.

The poll found that if you stimulated the “what’s in it for me” factor, 52% favored and 35% were still smart enough to oppose.

If you add to that question the information that the government will be calling the shots on what medical care you get, support for government health care dropped 8 points and opposition went up 3 points: 44% for and 38% against.

Which is exactly why these socialists appeal to the self-centered “what’s in it for me” button that many people have; socialists know that for too many people, whether it’s failed everywhere else in the world doesn’t matter, whether it makes sense doesn’t matter, whether it taxes your neighbor more doesn’t matter, whether it runs counter to American values does’t matter, whether it’s illegal under our Constitution doesn’t matter.  All that matters to some people is: Do I come out ahead (even in the short term)?

But beyond the selfish-button many people have, these differing poll results illustrate an important truth.  For many people, if they know the facts, it doesn’t matter as much how the question was asked–or whether the pollster asked the question with an inflection that told the respondent what the right answer was. If people have more information about the issues, they can cut right right through the bull of “It’ll be cheaper for you” to the understanding that the government will be taxing you for it either way…and undermining your Constitution in the process.

We are seeing the wisdom of the founders (unfortunately) played out before us in poll results:

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be. – Thomas Jefferson

No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders. – Samuel Adams

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