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Ross, It's Not Because We Don't Like You.......

it's because you're an idiot

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, September 18, 1996.

Ross Perot, pending outcome of a lawsuit and its restraining order, won’t be part of the Presidential debates. I’m glad, myself, even though he would drain votes from Bob Dole, whom I despise. Dole is an awful debater and Clinton excels, so the more time given to Dole, who does not understand the concept of coherent sentences, the better.

, as ever, Perot brings up a good point. He is being excluded from the debate because his poll ranking are stuck in the mid to low single digits. Perot’s point is that politics are corrupted by polls and that the debate committee is supposedly committed to more objective criteria. Perot should be disallowed because he is a zany, paranoid, ego-stuffed yahoo of the first rank, and not because of the polls, about which he is correct.

There is a dangerous and prevalent conception that polls are objective, a form of pure science. Pure science is investigation by objective people to discover answers to simple questions about often complicated things. There is no preferred or sought answer. It is otherwise with polls.

Like all businessmen and dogs, pollsters are deeply in love with the views, integrity, and brilliance of whatever entity paid or fed them last. That is why questions are so convoluted, wedded to the passive voice and conditional tense. There is a desired result, and pollsters today could probably construct 50% approval ratings of Hitler from death camp survivors. That is why polls do not often ask questions directly. Four questions and answers will often cure a respondent’s answers to a desired mean. They are, in themselves, valueless. But they can intimidate.

And do not be fooled by the supposed objectivity of journalism polls. In a one-sided election, newspapers and TV stations hire pollsters to construct a phone survey to indicate a race is tightening up when it is not. Worse, any survey about, say, new stadiums, is closely linked to the amount of cash stations and newspapers make from the coverage of professional and college sports. Since the medial has direct financial interest, their polls are immediately suspect, if not outright hypocritical.

So like much else - the budget, for example - Perot asks the correct questions. But after one election in which we heard his answers, most Americans would vote from Richard Simmons before Ross Perot. At least, according to this poll.......