Governing By Polls!

Has the media succeeded in taking control of our government? I propose that the media uses polls to force weak-ass politicians to bend to the current will of the majority, as shown in the latest poll. Often these polls use very small samples and the methodologies of different polling organizations are wildly different. Morning Joke loves to throw polls at politicians and confront them about how their stance doesn’t fit with the majority. It isn’t just Joe (an intern was found dead in his office) Scarborough but many other talking heads and pundits do the exact same thing. Haven’t they had any statistics classes?

As Chris Matthews pointed out so pointedly on his show two nights ago, go here for more, “But the poll that was the official poll, where people had to go into the booth and vote…” that’s the only “poll” that really counts. I could rattle off all sorts of polls that have been wrong over the years for individual races, but that’s really beside the point I’m trying to make. When we elect someone, we elect that person to make judgments and represent us with the principles they ran on, and their whole world view. When I vote for a candidate, I want that candidate to make decisions based on their best judgment not whichever way the wind is blowing on that particular day.

The media just beats these polls into the public consciousness, and as we learned from the Reagan years and ever since, if you repeat something over and over again, pretty soon people start to believe it, whether it’s factually true or not. Of course the Republicans have raised it to an art form, I’m pretty sure the NEA has given them grants it’s such a powerful art form. The really shitty part of this phenomenon is that there is no good way to change it. The lazy journalists in this country use it as a crutch, heaven forbid they write an original article or do a little research or expose a crooked politician. And it gives them tremendous power that they yield over politicians, you can’t watch a Sunday morning show or any other political cable news show without a poll being dragged out and abused.

The last thing I’ll say about polls is that they are exaggerated to the extreme. “The people want this or that”….when it may very well be 52% of the people in a poll with a margin of error of +/- 4%.  It drives me nuts when they completely discard the views of the other 48%. When you see a margin of error higher than 3%, the sample is usually less than 800 people, many times less than that because not every question is answered by all the participants.  So often the results they spew are even smaller subgroups within the poll. “Of the people who support Obama, 20% believe this or that”…..which may very well be less than a hundred people when you divide up the pie.

If you are ever in need of a reality check about any given poll, visit Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog, he’ll give you realistic analysis and perspective too.


8 thoughts on “Governing By Polls!

  1. It sounds like some one is getting a bit upset that people are finally learning the truth about a universal health care system. The simple fact is that even with a majority behind her, Pelosi still couldn’t get a bill passed. Now with politicians’ jobs on the line no one in their right mind will vote on it because they know they will be destroyed in the polling booth.

    Your socialist plans are being dashed and I love it!

  2. My post is about polls in general and it isn’t really about Obama, this is something that’s been going on for many years. I really don’t think our founding fathers envisioned polls as a way to run our government. The health care plan is a good example, 80% or so of people have insurance so of course the selfish Americans think, I’ve got mine, screw you. We democrats aren’t asking for socialized medicine, although I think we should do it, we are asking for a level playing field for all people, not just the ones who can afford it. This every man for himself crap isn’t what America is about, or at least it wasn’t what we were about.

  3. You aren’t guaranteed happiness in America. Please tell me where it says that in our constitution. Health insurance is a privilege not a right. Just like a drivers license and owning your own home. These are all privileges which requires work from the individual to attain. It’s not our governments job to step in and say you are going to take insurance or else you are going to jail.

    You are sounding more and more like a Progressive Socialist….not a Democrat. I also suggest that you go back and read our Founding Fathers’ writings.

  4. Well I never said anything about happiness, even people who have everything aren’t necessarily happy. In order to DRIVE a car you have to have insurance, do you have any idea why that is? It’s the same principle as health care, those who don’t have it end up in emergency rooms and guess who those costs get passed on to? I guess that concept is sometimes hard for conservatives to understand.
    I realize their are a lot of people like you who don’t care about anyone but yourself and maybe your immediate family, but a whole hell of a lot of this country does care about the well being of their fellow man. We used to be a compassionate nation, but since the Reagan Brainwashing of America, we’ve become much more selfish. Whether you care about your fellow man or not, I’m never going to apologize for caring about how my neighbor or co-workers or family is getting along. And if you fall on hard times, I’ll feel compassion for you too, even though you apparently wouldn’t reciprocate.
    And our founding fathers laid the foundation for our nation, they didn’t try to address every possible issue or predict what might happen in our country 200 plus years later. I’m surprised they didn’t rise from the dead during the Bush massacre and take revenge for the destruction of our foundation.

  5. Jim, the reich wingers of America have to find creative ways to brainwash the nation so relying on polls pulled from their asses is one such way!

    Now that Scott Brownshirt is in the Senate he will be reaching across the aisle to get health care reform passed, because he says the nation needs it. Ooopsie! What poll said he would do a 180 in 24 hours of being elected? Bah hahahahahahahaha! That one must still be stuck up the teabagger’s asses!

  6. Health care is a human right. We should be protected from the moment we’re born American to the moment we die as Americans. Oh wait! The right wing believes it’s okay for the health insurance industry to profit on the backs of sick people while denying claims so Wall Street won’t get sick! See?


  7. I’m afraid the Rethugs will get to him and he will fall in line with them. They know how to threaten senators to fall in line. But man, that would be so cool if he was the 60th vote. Too funny.

  8. “We should be protected from the moment we’re born”
    You know Hitler said the exact same thing right? Health care is a privilege Kay not a right. Please, tell me, where does it say in our Constitution that health care is a right? I would really like to know where you see this.
    I’m sorry to dash your Socialist dreams, but maybe you should just go ahead and move down to Cuba. Cuba recently had about 30 patients die of hypothermia in one of their wonderful government run top notch hospitals.

    As for caring about your fellow man, my wife and I donate to local charities all the time to help out the homeless, and we were more than happy to donate money for the relief in Haiti, along donating one of our tents for Haiti. One of the local organizations was doing a tent drive since so many people in Haiti don’t have any sort of shelter. So please don’t preach to me about not caring for others, I’m more than happy to do my share…..what about yourself?

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