The Corner

Polls, Shmolls

Last night the phone rang, and it turned out to

be the Gallup polling organization calling me to ask a few questions (the

caller ID confirmed it). The Voice said it would take only five minutes, so

I agreed to do it. The Voice asked the expected questions about the war, the

economy, the president’s performance and so forth. I answered honestly, but

was bothered that she didn’t ask my age, my political affiliation or whether

or not I’m a registered voter. Doesn’t this matter in terms of getting a

statistically valid sample? I don’t know anything about polling, but it

seems that it does.

The final question was: “Are you worried that there will be a terror attack

over the next few weeks.” I told her I didn’t know, and asked if that was a

valid answer. She said it was not, that this was a yes/no question. So I

said “yes,” but only because that felt less dishonest than no. The thing is,

I’m always concerned about terrorist attacks (aren’t you?), but they aren’t

at the forefront of my mind. If they’d asked me that question any time of

the year, I would have answered it the same way. Had they asked, “Are you

more worried about terrorist attacks over this holiday season?” I would have

said “no.” Anyway, just you watch: the next Gallup poll will come out

reporting that a large percentage of Americans are worried about terrorism

during the holiday season. Take it with a large grain of salt.

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