Monday, February 17, 2014

The Phrasing of Questions Matters

I pulled the block quote below from a post on the Daily Kos blog. Background is that, based on polling, three separate news stories suggested three different, even contradictory, public responses to the proposed Wall St. bailout package, the price tag for which was given as $700 billion. Dig down into the questions from the pollsters and you find how the phrasing of the basic question drives the answers. The lesson for us, I suppose, is that you can ask questions several different ways to tease out attitudes.

From the blog post

The Times/Bloomberg Poll  asked respondents if they believed it was "the government's responsibility to bail out private companies with taxpayers' dollars." A majority said no.

The Pew Poll, by contrast, asked respondents if "investing billions to try and keep financial institutions and markets secure" was the right thing to do. A majority said yes.

ABC/WaPo  (Q 16.): Do you approve or disapprove of the steps the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department have taken to try to deal with the current situation involving the stock market and major financial institutions? Do you approve/disapprove strongly or somewhat?

To summarize:


Do you think it's good to stave off economic collapse? Well, sure!

But do you think those dirty rotten scoundrels should be rescued with your money? Hell, no!

And as for the specific steps? Well, maybe.

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