What are the good and bad points of a survey like this?
A former president required that callers to the White House first complete a survey before being connected. For all questions, callers could press one for yes, two for no, and three for undecided.
Do you agree that it is a good idea to fully fund public education?
Do you agree that it is important to support human rights around the world?
Do you agree that a strong economy is best for America?
Callers who selected yes to all questions were congratulated for being part of the wide majority who fully supported the president’s domestic and foreign policy (a percentage was calculated and reported instantly).
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Looking at this in terms of opinion polling, there is nothing really good about it. This is a very poor opinion poll in the sense that it does nothing to actually measure true opinion in the country. This poll is not randomized. Instead, its population is completely self-selected. This makes it skewed. The questions it asks lack any sort of nuance. They are things that essentially no one would disagree with. Therefore, it does not measure opinion on any real issue.
The only way in which this might be good is from a political perspective. It may be a good political tool for building support for the president. It makes people feel as if they have something in common with him and his beliefs.
So, this is a complete failure as an opinion poll but it may have some value as a political tool.
The only good part of the poll is that it has questions on it. There are several faults with the study, however. First, we do not know why the former president wants this information. It seems as though the only reason the president was using this information was to (hopefully) get people to associate his administration with a strong economy, public education, and human rights. Also, the sample was congratulated for picking the "right" answers, but on a good survey there are no "right" answers--the whole thing is done for informational purposes only. Also, the survey only gave people three choices--yes, no, or undecided. What if someone believed in a strong economy, but were unsure of how to achieve this? Could it be achieved through government intervention or letting the free market take more control? It seems as though this survey was only concocted to be a campaign tool of the administration so that people would associate the former president with these three positive outcomes of a good government.
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