March 07, 2010

Polls and Citizens United

Ann Althouse takes a look at the way the ABC/Washington Post poll asked about the case and comes to the conclusion that we shouldn't believe the poll results. I agree.
[T]he people surveyed mostly only knew about the case from the description given by the pollster. Here's the way ABC/Washington Post tried to get its unprepared respondents up to speed:
Changing topics, do you support or oppose the recent ruling by the Supreme Court that says corporations and unions can spend as much money as they want to help political candidates win elections? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
What percentage of those surveyed do you think understood "spend" to exclude contributing money to the candidate? 20%? I'm saying 20% to be snarky, because that's the proportion of respondents who approved of the decision. My real point is, the survey is utter trash. Worse than utter trash, because it propagated misinformation.
The hyperbole surrounding this case has been astounding. For example, Kieth Olbermann said that Citizens United “might actually have more dire implications than Dred Scott v Sandford.” The coverage in the MSM hasn't been much more nuanced or accurate so it is no wonder the question was posed as it was.

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