Memeorandum currently has 2 conflicting stories up in their list of pieces being discussed in the blogosphere, that show how polls can be interpreted in different ways. In the political realm, it’s often said, “ignore the polls,” they are meaningless. Well, these two interpretations of the same poll clear show the reality of that statement.
First, we have this headline from AP News: Poll: Americans see gloom, doom in 2007.
AP reports that “an Associated Press-AOL News poll that asked people in the U.S. to contemplate what 2007 holds for the country.” Here’s a view of what they report from “the telephone poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Dec. 12-14 by Ipsos”…
Another terrorist attack, a warmer planet, death and destruction from a natural disaster. These are among Americans’ grim predictions for the United States in 2007.
Only a minority of people think the U.S. will go to war with Iran or North Korea over those countries’ nuclear ambitions. An overwhelming majority of those surveyed think Congress will raise the federal minimum wage. One-third see hope for a cure to cancer…
Six in 10 people think the U.S. will be the victim of a terrorist attack. An identical percentage thinks it likely that a biological or nuclear weapon will be unleashed somewhere else in the world.
Seventy percent of people in the U.S. predict a major natural disaster in the country and an equal percentage expects worsening global warming. Also, 29 percent think it likely that the U.S. will withdraw its troops from Iraq. See link for more.
Second, we have this view of the same poll: AP Poll: Americans Optimistic for 2007.
AP News reports in this piece that:
An AP-AOL News Poll finds that while most Americans said 2006 was a bad year for the country, three-fourths thought it had been a good one for them and their families.
“In a time of war, so little has been asked of us as citizens,” said Given, who teaches ancient Greek at East Carolina University. “We haven’t had to sacrifice anything. We’ve been allowed to live our lives very, very well.”
Looking ahead, optimism reigns.
Confused? I know I am, sort of. AP reports that “Seventy-two percent of Americans feel good about what 2007 will bring for the country, and an even larger 89 percent are optimistic about the new year for themselves and their families, according to the poll.”
That fits with a long-term trend suggesting that Americans are generally an optimistic lot. Polling over recent decades is replete with optimism, and with a tendency for people to feel more positively about their own situations than that of the country overall.
Self-proclaimed optimists and pessimists think they understand why. Read on here.
Finally, the optimistic view of 2007, AP reports does not extend to the Iraq war:
The current optimistic outlook among Americans does not extend to their assessments of the war in Iraq. Forty percent of those polled expect the situation there to get worse in 2007, and 31 percent see no change on the horizon. Just 27 percent expect the situation there to get better.
Polls – what are they good for?
IN THE BLOGOSPHERE:
Kevin Hayden on The American Street point out: “Poll defines Americans as bipolar, confused and inebriated, and willing to fall for anything.”
And Steven Bainbridge notes: “Happy 2007: Gloom or Optimism.”