Friday, March 03, 2006

Skinning the Poll Kat

During this election season, we are going to see a proliferation of polls. Take any issue out there, and you will likely find that all candidates are using poll results to justify and reinforce their position. It is amazing how adaptable and changeable the Poll can be. So it is very appropriate to do a quick overview of the characteristics of this popular political tool

First point to remember is that polls have nothing to do with the truth or validity of an issue. They are about peoples opinions.

At best, polls give a snapshot of how people feel and what they think they know about particular issue. They can be a valuable tool for communicating from voters to governments and companies. They can give a snapshot of the thoughts and feelings of those polled. Properly used, that information is extremely valuable.

At their worst, polls can be a thinly disguised sales tool. Carefully worded questions with highly emotional phrases are often used to push for the results that the pollster wants. These are then used to justify everything from raising taxes, massive spending projects, to going to war.

The whole field of the use and misuse of polls it too broad to cover here but this website is a good place to start. Read it carefully. Learn how to dig out the details and skin the Poll Kat.

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