Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A stupid poll (about Ted Kennedy)

By Michael J.W. Stickings

"Poll: Ted Kennedy's Favorability Was Lower Among GOP, Independents, Southerners"

That's a headline at The Washington Independent, atop an article by David Weigel. To which I respond: And?

I suppose the numbers themselves are somewhat, if barely, interesting. A slight majority of respondents -- 51% -- had a "favorable opinion" of Ted Kennedy shortly before his death (the poll was conducted July 31 to August 3). Otherwise, though, what's the point? What do we learn?

That Kennedy was more popular among Democrats than among Republicans, with Independents in between? That Kennedy was more popular in the Northeast and West than in the Midwest and South?

Isn't all that pretty obvious?

If anything is interesting, it's that Kennedy's favorability rating in the South, a strongly Republican part of the country, was a strong 48%.

And yet, with fairly high sampling errors (+/- 5-6.5%), it's not clear how accurate the poll is when broken down into partisan and regional components.

News outlets like CNN insist that public opinion surveys are news. Many of them, though, are just a waste of time.

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