Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Misuse of National Polls

I find it incredibly frustrating when every network news show compares popularity poll numbers of the President to popularity poll numbers of the entire Congress.

You cannot compare opinions about a group of people to opinions about an individual. It is the old "comparing apples to oranges."  This is a misuse of polling data and the polling companies should know better.

 Let me give you an example. When people are asked how they feel about lawyers in general, typically the rating is always very low. But if you ask those same people how they feel about "their own" lawyer, they will typically say they think he/she is okay. The same is true for many other professions. Even though we may think of a group in negative terms, the individuals we know in that group are okay in our minds.

If you ask people if they like their individual member of Congress you will get numbers higher than the President. I would submit that most people like their personal representative in Congress, but when they think of this large body of hundreds of people they don't like them very much.

So, what the polling companies should do is have people rate their own member of Congress and then give an average of those results. I am sure you will most likely get rating near the approval ratings of the President. But, if there are large differences in those that would be worth reporting.

But let's be honest here, it makes for better press to report low popularity numbers for Congress. Honesty in use of data seems to have gone out the window.

Just my two cents...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014