Polls may actually influence public opinion, not reflect it

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Reading over my comments from earlier columns, it’s clear that there’s a dependency on polls to explain this country’s vast opinion. The polls have infiltrated America’s voting minds. Instead of truly grasping concepts, an illiterate voting body has formed — and no, I’m not insulting Tea Partiers.

Truly conceptualizing politics is difficult. Pollsters have stepped in to fill the void. They’re doctoring public opinion.

The average American has little time or interest for politics. Inherently, that naiveté leads to a reliance on polls. The brilliance of the plutocracy is in controlling the masses.

We’re pawns for our employers — a full-time job traps the worker in 40-plus hour weeks. Come home, and whatever leftover energy you have quickly evaporates. The “extra” time is spent caring for kids, cleaning, bills and other stuff.

Meanwhile, a quick glance at your local paper or online bombards you with senseless numbers, like they represent your opinion. A poll number shouldn’t influence you or make you vote one way or another.  The dead peasant laborer knows what help they need and what would benefit their family most.

The travesty is that families aren’t voting for what they need. The trust in polls and politicians is leading to a stratified schema that is leading to a dichotomous — yes or no — country.

Fortunately, there is a gray area. The world doesn’t operate in black and whites, and it’s illusory to believe otherwise. The exploitation of citizens by pollsters must be examined.

Right-wing conservative pollster Frank Luntz is famous for fashioning loaded poll questions. In fact, Republicans often credit Luntz for his ability to persuade average people not to vote for their needs.

A hypothetical question: “Is Obama’s government mandated health insurance a step toward socialism?” Poll after poll showed respondents that were terrified and overwhelmingly said yes.

Unfortunately, the preceding question along with many others has an inherent bias. Those questions incite a worry — the government mandate.

Try separating the individual changes present in our current health bill. “Do you believe preexisting conditions should prevent Americans from receiving health insurance?” No.

“Do you think Americans should pay exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses?” No. “Do you (students) want to renounce your parents’ coverage before 26?” No. “Do you want to be discriminated against because you’re a woman?” No. “Would you like an annual cap or lifetime coverage limit to the amount of treatment you can receive?” No.

All of the former questions were solved with the passing of the health bill.

Nonetheless, propagandist polling is continuous. You’ll read things like, “Should illegal immigrants qualify for coverage under Obama’s health plan?” No. “Do you want to have a choice of health coverage?” Yes. “Should health care cost more under Obama’s plan?” No.

Then, the ultimate conclusion is that those polled aren’t really reading and don’t know enough about the bill in the first place to make these judgments. And why should they? They aren’t doing this for a living and have better things to worry about — like putting food on the table.

How many are polled? What’s their education level? These questions are never divulged for the confidentiality and sanctity of the partisan message.

On top of everything else, polls are self-reported. While being a necessary survey element, fact-checking isn’t completed.

We want to know everything that a pollster is asking us. But those polled may be uninformed about their answers. An all-or-nothing mentality runs rampant. Survey-takers would rather pretend to know what they’re talking about than admit ignorance.

Should we be exploring for oil? Yeah, we need it. Should we be pillaging the world’s natural resources for a minimally efficient and unsustainable way of life? No way. It’s a brilliant wordplay.

Once a measure, it’s now become the focus of political debate. Instead of understanding an idea, we lazily glance at a poll.

We must not vote against our own beliefs, causes and needs. Throw away numbers and intelligently explain what you believe in.

By Samuel Lustgarten, The Rocky Mountain Collegian (Colorado State)The College News Network