The latest CBS-New York Times poll has Eric Alterman contemplating the end of democracy as we know it: “More than 60 percent of respondents said Mr. Kerry was either ‘hiding something’ or ‘mostly lying’ in discussing his service in Vietnam. That’s suspiciously close to the number of people who think Saddam attacked us. How can you have a democracy under circumstances like ours?”
It’s a bit of a nasty, reflexive tic for leftists to always assume that Democrats and Democracy are the same thing: in other words, if Democrats lose, Democracy has failed. Even so, I feel a little David Broder nanny fit coming on when pollsters ask voters if someone is “hiding something” or “mostly lying” on a subject. (And the CBS-NYT phoners also found 80 percent found the President “hiding/lying” on Iraq.) That’s a poll designed to exploit cynicism. I’d guess less informed poll subjects are quick to bite on the cynical line about either candidate to appear more “sophisticated” to the pollster. Couldn’t pollsters just ask the same question in different words: do you trust what the candidate has told you about X?