If the facts are important to us when casting our vote for president, should all the facts matter to us, or only the ones that support our choice? Considering that, today the New York Times offers us a lesson in polls and how they are used as a tool first then and information gathering mechanism second.
For the past 52 years worth of presidential elections, and likely the next one in 2016, the Times had officially endorsed the Democratic candidate, whoever it happened to be. The first on that list was John F. Kennedy, leading right up to consecutive endorsements of Barak Obama. Understanding this, it’s common sense to identify their efforts as being an extension of their longstanding support for the Democratic party; which is their right. They are anything but alone in this practice.
The Times sites the results of its latest New York Times/CBS News nationwide poll. They are careful to mention that it was conducted BEFORE Donald Trump made his now famous statement about the temporary banning of Muslim immigrants to the US.
And why is that important? They shall tell us later.
If the question was asked, “Do you think Donald Trump is looking out for the safety of Americans?” what you’ve done is to plant the thought that he is, in fact, doing that. People’s thoughts will automatically turn to thinking of his recent public statements and actions and considering if, right or wrong, it was his motive.
If you asked the question, “Would you consider yourself to be concerned or scared about what Trump would do if he is elected president?” your thought would, in the same manner, begin to think that in asking the question alone there is a reason to be.
This is what the Times did with their poll.
They reported that the poll was conducted over the telephone, so we’ve no way of determining their exact verbiage. We will also never know the manner or tone in which the questions were asked. And for that matter what questions were asked at all. But; we do know that they reported their results as a news finding and that finding was that more people are scared of Trump than Hillary Clinton being president.
Back now to the question of why it was important to mention that this poll was conducted BEFORE Trumps latest statements. And here’s the answer. More people were scared of Trump before he opened his mouth. See now why they all thought that, and why you should be too. That is the message of the poll.
Does Fox News do the same thing? Answer; Yes, all news media sources do the same thing. It is impossible to conduct a poll without slant or agenda, though many would claim that they do. The very questions themselves, and the omission of other questions are all determined by the desired outcome of the poll.
So what does this lesson in polls teach?
We look for the agenda in ALL sources of news. All poll results, and realize that the truth is quite subjective. We become smarter readers; As people we question human beings and their motives when they are presenting us with information. We evolve into wiser Americans.