A Poll You Should Pay Attention To

In my last post I was upset about an ABC report on a political poll that I believed was ridiculous. It put the President up against a generic Republican and found more people would vote for the Republican. You can see what I said about it here.

I’m not a fan of polls. In general I don’t think predicting human behavior is all that easy. To a great extent we have gotten quite good at it, but there is still no way to predict what a particular person will do in a particular moment. My bias aside there is one poll I think all Americans should take a look at.

The Pew Research Center describes itself as a “nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world.” Every few years they put out a particularly interesting poll. It’s called “Beyond Red vs. Blue.” In essence the poll breaks down the American public into many more groups than the Republican, Democrat, Independent model that we are used to.  Based on questions about a variety of subjects it gives a much more in-depth look at American voters. There is a lot of interesting information included.

It gets even better. They provide a quick online quiz to show you where you land on the political spectrum. At the end you are provided with a great deal of information. I think it is a great example of the research into politics that should be happening. I encourage all of you to go to this site and take the political typology quiz. Let me know where you land and any comments about the poll you might have.

It might not seem surprising to any of my readers, but I came down as a “Solid Liberal.” Who knew?


8 responses to “A Poll You Should Pay Attention To

  1. I too am a solid liberal. But, then, I’m a social worker, so that should come as no surprise!!!

  2. I came out a “post-modern.”

  3. Freedom, by the way

    I came out as a staunch conservative. Funny, not all the descriptors fit me, though. I really consider myself a conservative/libertarian. And you, of course, consider yourself an Independent? I believe the quesions were a bit biased. A few I didn’t like either choice. But interesting!

    • You’re not supposed to like the choice. The idea is to see which extreme you’re most willing to identify with when pressed. At the end of the day, you’ll never encounter a poll and/or questionnaire which describes you with complete accuracy. They’re looking for broad-based populace categories.

      • Dave, I like your analysis. Explaining to people that you just have to pick which one seems more right is difficult. It’s also a problem that the online quiz is extremely simplistic compared to the actual poll. There is a tremendous amount of information in that poll that isn’t even addressed in the quiz. I went over the data for a long time. I plan on using it for future reference in posts to come.

    • Nobody I’ve talked to likes the questions. That’s because everyone that I know who has taken it realizes the issues are more complex than an A or B answer. It is important to note about myself that I do consider myself an independent. I’m no doubt a liberal however. I base my view on the fact that I don’t like either political party. While on most issues I agree with Democrats, I also agree with Republicans on some. (I’m not a fan of the estate tax for instance.) I just don’t believe either party is interested in representing me, or for that matter the American public. I think special interests of all kinds push us out.

  4. Freedom, by the way

    It’s a sad state of affairs that we have only two parties to choose from. I am against big government and you find big government supporters in both parties. If the federal government were not so big and overeaching into every area of our lives then party affliation would not be such a big deal.

  5. Matt – if you’re interested in polling techniques, you might check out what is called the Ordered Alternatives scale. It was developed by Sherif and Sherif in 1967. It is a great deal more accurate, as it allows the respondent to rank his/her choice on a numbered scale. If you’d like an example, let me know; I’ll throw one up on google docs and get you a link.

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