My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Bad Poll, or Bad Reporting?

I suspect a little of both.

The CBS News/New York Times Poll is a mixed bag for the President—or so the Times would have you believe. Just as a ‘for instance,’ consider the title of the article: Public Voicing Doubts on Iraq and the Economy, Poll Finds.

To be sure, the poll is not glowing news: 49% JA, 56% Wrong Track. On the other hand, 60% are “optimistic” about the second term of W.

But just to give you an idea how poorly written, or how deliberately confusing the writing is in this article, take a look at the following lines (in order of appearance in the article), all dealing with Social Security.

. . . and many have reservations about his signature plan to overhaul Social Security, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll.
Seventy percent, however, said they thought Mr. Bush would succeed in changing the Social Security system.

Just under 80 percent, including a majority of those who said they voted for Mr. Bush in November, said it would not be possible to overhaul Social Security, cut taxes, and finance the war in Iraq without increasing the budget deficit, despite Mr. Bush's promises to the contrary.

That could undermine his leverage in Congress, where even some Republicans have expressed concern about major aspects of Mr. Bush's Social Security plans.
Fifty percent said Social Security is in crisis, echoing an assertion that Mr. Bush has made and that has been disputed by Democrats and independent analysts.

Answering another question, 51 percent said that while there were good things about Social Security, the system needed "fundamental changes," while 24 percent said it needed a complete overhaul.

But 50 percent said it was a "bad idea" to permit workers to divert part of their payroll taxes into the stock market, as Mr. Bush is expected to propose. That number leaps to 70 percent when the question includes the possibility that future guaranteed benefits would be reduced by as much as one-third.

Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they were not likely to put their own Social Security money into the stock market, and a majority said that in pushing for a Social Security overhaul, Mr. Bush was more interested in helping Wall Street than protecting the average American.

Still, 54 percent of respondents said they do not expect the Social Security system to have enough money to pay them pensions when they retire, a figure that has not varied much since the Times/CBS News Poll started asking the question in 1981.
And younger people were much more likely to support the change Mr. Bush is seeking than older Americans.

Got all that? It’s bad and in trouble, but don’t do anything about it, but it won’t be there for me, but he shouldn’t try to change it. . . Again I ask, bad poll, or just bad writing? Well, the part about the writing is obvious; what the question really should be is ‘how skewed was the questioning on Social Security?

The important number that I pulled out: 75% think the current Social Security system needs significant change (respondents answered either “fundamental changes needed” or “complete overhaul.”

Lucky for us, we have a President who is willing to lead on this issue.

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