Of Polls and Rumors of Polls

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A February 15 article on CNN’s website claims that “by a large number, most Americans lack faith in the ability of Democrats or Republicans to solve the nation’s problems“.

For those of us who identify with neither of these two parties this comes as no surprise, and maybe even seem music to our ears.

But before any of us start saying “I told you so,” consider this piece from Jeff Jones on the Gallup Organization’s own weblog about how poll results are reported by the press and especially by pundits:

It is interesting to see the differences in their use of polling data. They are accurately citing polls, but none tells the whole story. That is similar to what is now common in partisan political discourse — no one is necessarily lying, but very few are telling the whole truth. (Jones, “State of the Union Spin,” 01-Feb 2006 4:21 pm)

Once the full report becomes available, perhaps the rest of us should look more closely at what the poll actually says, as well as what the poll actually asks.

Unfortunately this is not as easy as it sounds. For now, this author could only find presidential approval scores from the February 9-12 poll on Gallup’s own page.

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