Useless poll, no. MMCX

Okay, I could admittedly spend a whole blog trumpeting mis-use of public opinion polls, but sometimes I just cannot let it go by.  Especially, when as in this latest Washington Post poll on financial regulation, the Post is using the results to frame all its stories on the matter.  Here's the question that really gets me: "Do you support of oppose having the federal government regulate the complex financial instruments known as derivatives?"  43% support and 41% oppose.  Well, clearly we've got closely divided opinion.  Or, more like it, I'd guess upwards of 75% of respondents were lying so as to not sound ignorant. The vast majority of truthful respondents, answered "no opinion" but they were only 17% of the poll.  If you believe that 83% of Americans have even the slightest clue what financial derivatives are (much less understand what regulating them would entail), I've got a bridge to sell you.  



About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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