Tuesday, April 26, 2022


Last week, the opinion section of The New York Times published an op-ed by Mark Penn, former pollster to Bill and Hillary Clinton and frequent Fox News guest; Penn predictably urged President Biden to tack rightward on a wide range of issues, citing a recent survey his Harris Poll had conducted under the auspices of Harvard's Center for American Political Studies.

I took a look at that poll. Much of it is agenda-driven hackwork -- pure push-polling.

The survey starts with unobjectionable questions. It asks respondents what they think of the president and a range of other figures, whether they think the country is on the right or wrong track, and so on. The hackishness kicks in about halfway through.

Yes, Biden can either expand the social safety net or be "responsible." Just dry, neutral polling language! I give credit to the 36% of respondents who dared to say they preferred the first choice.

Right, because "energy independence" can be achieved only via oil (which is priced globally), and can't possibly be achieved via renewables.

Should Biden continue to allow his policies to be dictated by East Coast elitist socialist hippies? Or should the policies be decided by Americans?

Yes, let's embrace the notion that if we issue a lot of drilling permits on Monday, by the weekend we'll be awash in new oil and the price of gas will instantly drop to $2.50 a gallon.

This is just one in a series of Fox News-flavored leading questions on immigration:
* "About 200,000 immigrants are crossing the Southern Border each month and over 2 million came in illegally in 2021. Given these numbers, should the administration continue its current policies or issue new, stricter policies to reduce the flow of people coming over the border?"

* "Is the Biden administration creating an open border or is it just trying to enforce immigration laws more humanely?"

* "Do you think the Biden border policies are increasing the flow or drugs and crime to the United States or are those policies simply treating people more humanely?"
There's a similar series of hackish questions on crime:
* "Turning to the issue of crime. Do you think big city district attorneys today are prosecuting violent offenders sufficiently or are they pulling back from prosecuting them?"

* "Would you support or oppose removing district attorneys that are pulling back on prosecuting violent offenders?"

* "Do you think the Justice Department is focusing enough on fighting gangs and crime syndicates or is it focusing too much on political offenses like January 6th and protecting school parents?"

* "Would you favor or oppose the justice department intervening in cities where local District Attorneys have reduced their prosecution of violent offenders?"
There are reasonable questions on Ukraine and the pandemic -- but then we get to a series of "Emerging Issues" questions.

Harvard, I hope you're proud.

The final questions are making news today. From The Hill:
Fifty-seven percent of voters said they approve of entrepreneur Elon Musk buying Twitter, according to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey released exclusively to The Hill on Monday.

Another 43 percent said they were opposed to Musk purchasing the social media platform.

The poll was conducted late last week....

The Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll also showed a divide over whether Twitter fairly shuts down inappropriate speech or if it censors conservative speech.

Forty-eight percent of respondents called it a fair platform, while 52 percent said it censors conservative speech.

“Twitter had a poor image and was increasingly out of the mainstream of America and those who believe in free speech,” said Mark Penn, the co-director of the Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll survey. “Most of America welcomes the Musk takeover.”
Yes, and I'm sure those responses were completely spontaneous, and not at all a reaction to the ideological lean of the questions:

This is garbage. It's propaganda disguised as polling.

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