Never assume Americans have a clue – about anything – people can’t correctly answer a poll question if they don’t know the noun.
Puppet Trump was twitterpated by a recent Morning / Politico poll. It appears to show that the majority of Americans support the executive orders he’s signed since Steve Bannon became president.
For example, the first question asked if they approved revoking funding from sanctuary cities. 55% approved, 33% disapproved. The rest were strangely honest: they have no opinion because they haven’t a clue what a sanctuary city actually is1. The GOP has framed sanctuary cities as hiding immigrants in attics, rather than what they really are: cities that don’t use a “papers please” police force, and don’t exhaust their own resources to “round them up” on behalf of an authoritarian federal government.
Another question: 55% approve that all federal government regulations should be frozen until “the new administration can review them.” Yet the pollsters ignore the fact that most Americans are blissfully unaware of the thousands of regulations keeping us alive on a daily basis: the ADA, airline safety, road safety, food safety; building codes that ensure your house doesn’t fall down, prohibiting old man Potter from putting your child to work in a sweatshop, minimum wage… even pesky things like Justice. Unfortunately, post-Rush Limbaugh conservative America turned “regulation” into a four letter word – and so most Americans have no idea what they actually are. I bet 90% of republicans interpret “federal regulations” as applying exclusively to financial markets and small business tax code… and so they smile and look the other way as the new head the EPA sets our rivers on fire.
We also see in this poll that 49% approve2 of “delaying or ignoring” parts of the Affordable Care Act. Yet these inept pollsters failed to ask if these people know what the ACA does! (If they asked, they would have discovered that 1/3 of Americans still don’t know that Obamacare is the ACA, let alone all the ways in which they’ve benefited from it.)
To Pollsters, A Hint: Americans Are Idiots
A long standing impasse to quality democracy in America has been one thing: Americans are idiots. Half of the population doesn’t bother to vote, one quarter are wholly misinformed3, one sixth are lost in their own egos, one third don’t have time to read news, and the remainder can’t do math without the calculator on their iPhone.
Mind you, being an idiot isn’t an insult; it’s a long-term state of ignorance, which in this country is a byproduct of making less than a six-figure salary.
I accept that publishers have to do polls: it’s click bait and gives both sides of the aisle an opportunity to shout, “These people are idiots!” But pollsters need to make a fundamental change to their methodology: never assume Americans have a clue – about anything – people can’t correctly answer a question if they don’t know the noun. Large parts of America simply have no time to understand the ACA, properly define a sanctuary city, or know how few jobs a pipeline will create.
If you want to poll Americans about the Trump Administration’s executive orders, or the uselessness of the Democratic Party in Congress4…well, then… you have to author the questions as you would for the cognitive abilities of a second grader5.
The moment you assume the average American has a clue about policies is the moment you start creating “fake news”… well done Morning Consult & Politico, well done.
1 Yes that is a guess. POLITUSIC possesses not budget nor magic: we didn’t divinely locate the people who were incapable of forming an opinion and pester them as to why they neither approve nor disapprove of something that in all likelihood has no impact on their lives whatsoever. But in retrospect… now that we’ve had a little time to think about it… we like to think that someone having no opinion regarding a non-life-impact is a little bit wiser than someone who disapproves of a thing they’ve never – even by proxy – experienced. Honestly: what does a person living in Rifle, Colorado know about the everyday challenges and operations of San Francisco, California? back
2 49% is close enough to “the majority of Americans approve”… we’re in America: we always round up to fit the narrative. Big league. back
3 Hello Fox News. back
4 Everyone give a big welcome to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of (Privatized) Education Betsy DeVos. back
5 The one who always needed a tissue, smelled faintly of old cardboard, and wore brown corduroy trousers. It’s an underreported quirk of the Universe that 42% of the time he had the same first name as your great uncle (mother’s side). back