Another Misleading Poll: 12% Don’t Believe Obama Cut Taxes02.17.10
I heard about this statistic on my drive into work this morning listening to NPR’s Morning Edition, according to a CBS News poll:
12% of Americans don’t believe that the Obama Administration cut taxes last year.
Once I got to work, I did some more research on this because I found it to be extremely troubling. The data was in fact from a CBS News/New York Times poll, the news article of which is entitled: “Poll Reveals Most Americans Don’t Know They Got a Tax Cut.” Although, if you notice, in the first paragraph of the article, there is a link to the actual poll article (I thought I was already on the page of the poll?), so I click through and I’m greeted with this headline: “Poll: Who Are the Tea Partiers?”
Well, now this changes everything. A poll of those in the Tea Party will provide much different results than that of all Americans. And that’s exactly what it is: “44 percent of Tea Party supporters believe Mr. Obama has already raised taxes this past year, while most Americans think the president has kept them the same.” This poll was designed to figure out which people comprise the Tea Party and what they believe, which means that the figure of only 12 percent represents of the Tea Partiers who were polled, not the general population. This makes much more sense and is also rather relieving. To think that nearly 90% of all Americans were so completely factually incorrect and in the dark was too much for me to accept.
Although it shows, once again, just how polls can be extremely misleading. It’s even worse in this case because CBS News made a huge error in stating that this poll of Tea Partiers is indicative of the feelings of all Americans. Perhaps if the Tea Party were a huge section of the population this could be a more reasonable supposition, but according to their own poll, only 18 percent of Americans self-identify with the Tea Party.
As our culture keeps shifting toward placing importance and validity on opinions over facts – going so far as to even discredit facts simply because one doesn’t want to believe the truth (see: climate change, evolution, the definition of torture) – and news organizations more interested in juicy headlines than reporting the new properly, more and more polls will be given way too much weight to their findings. Remember to always take poll and survey results with very fine grains of salt or investigate them enough to really put the numbers and data in the proper perspective. At the end of the day, they only gauge public opinion, which doesn’t always reflect reality.
We are all entitled to our own opinions, but like Sen. Al Franken said, “we’re not entitled to our own facts.”