Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Skewed Surveys

When I come face-to-face with God, I'm sure I'll be so astonished that I'll forget to thank the Almighty for the greatest technological invention of the past 50 years: caller ID. Computers, cell phones, the Internet, Stephen Colbert—yes, these are all great advancements in the history of humanity. But none compares with caller ID, because it's the one form of technology that enables me to choose to ignore every caller who is not Stephen Colbert.

So a few minutes ago when the phone readout identified a call from "Unknown" at the number "000-000-0000," I at first ignored it, as I normally would. That's not Stephen's number, and he's not unknown. But something told me to answer it. I did, and I hit the jackpot—a political survey. Woo-hoo! This is going to be fun!

Here's how the Q&A went, dramatically condensed for your reading pleasure:
Q: On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being "very closely," how closely are you following the presidential campaign?
A: 1 (so far, so good)

Q: If the election were held today, would you vote for John McCain or Barack Obama?
A: Neither (total silence on other end: have I provoked shock and awe?)

[Interviewer recovers]
Q: If the election were held today, in the Colorado U.S. Senate race, would you vote for Republican Bob Schaffer or Democrat Mark Udall?
A: Neither. Hey, if you're going to ask more questions about individual candidates, my answer will be the same, because there are more than two candidates running, and I take third-party and independent candidates into consideration. (Interviewer says something like, "Uh, okay.")

Q: Would you be more inclined to vote for a pro-choice candidate who upholds a woman's right to choose or a pro-life candidate who wants to make abortion illegal?
A: Neither. There are ways of being pro-choice that are not based exclusively on a woman's right to choose, and there are ways of being pro-life that aren't exclusively based on making abortion illegal. The question is fundamentally flawed, because the definitions are flawed, narrow, and presume an either-or response.
I suspect the survey sponsor simply threw out my responses since they didn't fit the prescribed pattern. But for five brief minutes, I had a chance to expose an unsuspecting interviewer to the reality that there are more than two candidates for most positions and more than two sides to every issue.

I'll sleep well tonight.


hambone said...

I was just having this conversation with a co-worker yesterday.
The news was reporting someone as "pro-abortion" which I thought was odd. Are there really people who are like "Yay, abortion!"

I'm tired of the "major political parties" pushing things further and further into the realm of black and white when it's not that simple.

Agnostick said...

CHICAGO -- Declaring that clergy have a constitutional right to endorse political candidates from their pulpits, the socially conservative Alliance Defense Fund is recruiting several dozen pastors to do just that on Sept. 28, in defiance of Internal Revenue Service rules.


P.S. Love the book, Marcia!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Earlier today, I was thinking that a major problem with America was how divisive the populace is, and thought saying "The problem with America today is that it's no longer 'We the People', but 'We the Purple'."

Then I googled 'We the Purple', hoping to find the Simpsons scene that inspired it, but instead found your blog. Now I'm sad you got there before me, and for something that's actually pretty cool.

Anonymous said...

Hi Marcia,
I see you're based in Colorado and I'm a newspaper reporter in New York, but I thought you might be able to help me. We're looking for an undecided voter that lives on Long Island, NY, to interview next week. If you have a listserv or contact list of independents, would you mind sending my message along? I can be reached at christina.hernandez@newsday.com.
Thank you! Christina