Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Perils of Polling

in_polls Rasmussen and Zogby both have polls out that aim to figure out how Americans feel about the climate change legislation travelling through Congress.

If Rasmussen happened to call you, you were in a bad mood:

In late June, Rasmussen Reports surveyed 1000 adults. The poll showed that only 12% of respondents were strongly in favor, while 25% were strongly opposed. And 42% said that the measure would hurt the economy, while only 19% said it would help.

And you were much happier when Zogby caught up with you:

Now comes a competing poll from Zogby, which presents a far different picture. In this poll, a stunning 45% of the 1005 respondents were strongly in favor of the climate bill. Only 19% strongly opposed it.

What does this mean? Well, Business Week’s John Carey thinks that Zogby put the most positive spin possible on their questions while Rasmussen aimed at “objectivity” – good luck on that one! Carey concludes that “the public really doesn’t yet know what to think.”

Well, maybe. But we like the idea that Scott Rasmussen offers – that he was aiming to create a baseline for future polls. That works for both Zogby and Rasmussen. The trick is to see where the numbers go in future polls – especially as people start paying attention after the health care kerfluffle clears out and climate change comes back to the fore.

For ourselves, and only for right now, we’d lend more weight to Zogby because 45 in favor, 19 against (and presumably 36 undecided) seems a more plausible starting point for legislation not quite in the public eye but one about which strong advocates – and the House – have weighed in fairly positively.

A few more polls on the topic (from Gallup and Pew but really anyone) wouldn’t hurt, either.

We expect the polls will get really interesting when the Senate starts fighting over the bill in the Fall. Until then, let’s just say the numbers are all over the map.

Do you favor puppies or kittens? Why, yes, yes I do.

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