Seems like everyone is conducting polls today, or reciting various poll numbers. Always look at the questions asked and how they are worded when judging the legitimacy of poll numbers. Taking the percentages at face value is very misleading. For example:

Hypothetical question intended to elicit a favorable response –

Americans have discarded the legacy of discrimination against minorities. People consistently say that all Americans should be treated equally and have opportunities not available or denied to their parents. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton (or insert Barrack Obama) for President?

Answer – You betcha!

Hypothetical question intended to elicit a negative response –

Americans want change and a break with the past. The country is in danger of dynasty rule, which we fought against in 1776, due to the same families holding power over and over again. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton for President?

Answer – No way!

The pollster can generally elicit the response he wants by the way he words the question. Be careful when reading poll numbers.

For a short discussion of wording bias in polling see this entry in Wikipedia, and this entry regarding coverage bias.

Advertisements