You have to admire the nerve of polling companies that have absolutely no shame in the way they bias their questions in order to get the answers they want. Take for example this recent question from Rasmussen:
“President Obama says the United States doesn’t have a strategy yet for dealing with ISIS. How concerned are you that the United States does not have a strategy for dealing with this militant group?”
Any wild guesses about how the responses to this question turned out? I mean, really, how many people are going to say, in effect, “Nah, we don’ need no stinkin’ strategy. We can just make something up as we go along.”
So it’s hardly a surprise that 73% of voters said they are indeed “concerned,” 47% are “very concerned,” 25% are “not concerned” and only four percent 4% are “not at all concerned.”
It’s a basically meaningless question, but it produces the headline Rasmussen was seeking to produce in the first place: “73% of voters concerned by Obama’s lack of a strategy”
And now here’s how Rasmussen frames another question, this time when they want to get a positive response:
“Do you approve of President Obama’s decision to launch U.S. airstrikes to help the democratically-elected government of Iraq fight al-Qaeda-led militants who threaten to take over the country?”
This question is, of course, a trifecta of factual inaccuracy: After all, few Sunni’s or Kurds would agree that elections in Iraqi are “democratic,” Middle East experts agree that the ISIS extremists, grotesquely vile though they may be, are not the same organization as the Pakistan-based al Qaeda and few if any military observers think ISIS can actually take over the Shia areas of Iraq, areas that include the capital, Baghdad.
But once you load up the question with a bunch of helpful little hints like the ones above it’s hardly a surprise that 60% of likely U.S. voters approve of President Obama’s decision while only 20% oppose it and 19% are undecided. Realistically, the airstrikes may very well be the right thing to do, but Rasmussen’s ridiculously loaded question obviously sheds no light on the issue at all.
Oh well, and so it goes, I guess. But, just as a scientific experiment I do wish that Rasmussen would ask the following questions:
1. Obama admits he has no strategy for dealing with the political and military threat that a potentially hostile Nova Scotia might pose to northeastern Maine and northern Vermont. Are you at all concerned that Obama has no strategy to deal with this threat?
2. Do you approve of Obama’s decision to aid the heroic freedom fighters of East Timor in defending their staunchly pro-western island nation against the imminent threat of invasion by insurgent rebels from Tonga?”
I’m willing to bet the survey responses to these questions will be almost exactly the same as the ones Rasmussen got to the questions above, even though until they were asked these two questions most of the respondents probably thought Nova Scotia was just smoked fish and a Tonga a South Beach cocktail.