(August 3, 2018)- Quinnipiac University recently released results for a major poll they conducted on hot political topics. The headline of their June 28 press release announcing the poll results read:
“U.S. VOTERS REJECT GOP HEALTH PLAN MORE THAN 3-1, QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY NATIONAL POLL FINDS; VOTERS SUPPORT GUN BACKGROUND CHECKS 94 – 5 PERCENT.”
Anyone who follows firearm issues knows the “background check” results are totally bogus, and that inaccuracy should cast serious doubt on the “health plan” results as well. We’ve been seeing similar claims related to broad support for “universal background checks” repeated over and over again for years from Quinnipiac and other polling organizations, but when voters have actually been given the opportunity to cast a ballot on the issue the results have always been dramatically different.
Three years ago, voters in Washington State were asked to vote on a “universal background check” initiative, Sponsored by Mike Bloomberg’s gun control conglomerate, Everytown for Gun Safety, and supported by local billionaires including Bill Gates and Paul Allen. The Bloomberg consortium spent between $10 and $14 million dollars urging “Yes” votes, compared to about $1 million dollars spent by pro-rights groups opposing the initiative. Despite the lopsided spending, and polls claiming that Washington voters supported the idea at rates of 85% to 95%, the measure squeaked by with a victory of only about 2%.
Last year, Bloomberg bought similar ballot measures in Nevada and Maine. Again, spending was heavily weighted in favor of the measures, and again, pollsters reported close to unanimous support for them among voters, but in Nevada the measure passed by less than 0.5%, winning a majority in only one county.
In Maine, the voters rejected the measure outright.
These results are akin to pollsters predicting, not just a victory for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, but a massive landslide victory, only to be proven wrong on Election Day.
We attribute the very different voting versus polling results to lack of information on the part of the public being polled, and intentional manipulation on the part of the pollsters. What really raises questions about the most recent Quinnipiac poll, is that the pollsters at Quinnipiac should be well aware of the results in Washington, Nevada, and Maine. If they really were seeking accurate answers, those numbers would clearly tell them that there are some serious flaws in their methodology. For them to press forward with the same flawed methodology generating the same proven inaccurate results, is strong evidence of intentional bias and agenda-driven manipulation, and it should bring all of Quinnipiac’s polling results under suspicion.
Newspapers and TV talking heads love polls. So do advocacy organizations and politicians – as long as the polls go in their favor.
That’s because humans are basically herd animals, and we tend to want to be on the “winning” side of any issue, so if you tell people that virtually everyone supports candidate A, or favors “universal background checks,” people who don’t have an educated opinion are likely to fall in with the crowd. The good news for the politicians and pundits, is that it’s relatively easy to get polls to say just about whatever they want. All it takes is asking the right questions of the right people. Simple questions, like “Which candidate do you prefer for president?” can be manipulated by focusing the polling in geographic areas that lean heavily toward one party or another, but as the questions get more complicated, delving into legislative and policy issues, results are even easier to manipulate, because most people have only a limited understanding of the issues.
The reality is, most Americans don’t think much about politics. They don’t follow issues, don’t pay attention to the news, and certainly don’t do in-depth research. Barely half of eligible voters have enough interest to even bother casting a ballot in presidential elections, and the interest level drops exponentially as you move down the ballot or get into questions about legislation.
Human nature dictates that most of us think we are a little smarter than the next guy, and that we have enough understanding of just about any topic to offer up an opinion.
Of course, most polling organizations, especially those based in prestigious universities like Quinnipiac, claim to be impartial and unbiased. Above the fray, as it were. In reality that is rarely the case.
Polls cost money, and the folks paying the bills usually have an agenda. Pollsters know that if they come up with results that are contrary to what their patrons are looking for, they are not likely to get more funding from those sources in the future. And even if the bias is unintentional, it is almost always present, for the simple reason that the pollsters and researchers are human. They have their own preconceived ideas, opinions, and feelings. They also often have limited knowledge about the subject matter, so they might not even realize that their questions are leading.
For people well-versed on a given subject, the flaws and biases in polls are usually pretty obvious. Use of emotionally loaded words and phrases can have dramatic impacts on results, as can inaccurate or misleading information framing a question.
Couching questions about abortion in terms of a woman’s right to control what happens in her own body will yield very different results than the same basic questions couched in terms of protecting the life of a baby. Similarly, questions about guns will get very different responses if they use terms like “assault weapon,” as opposed to references to “popular sporting rifles.”
The obvious inaccuracy in Quinnipiac’s “background check” poll suggests that they are not producing polls so much as they are producing propaganda. The mainstream media’s faithful regurgitation of these polling results from organizations that have so thoroughly discredited themselves, is further testament that the “news” organizations are also in the propaganda business.
Figures don’t lie, but liars do figure, and nowhere is that more obvious than in twisted and misleading polls.