Friday, April 09, 2004

The Unbearable Meaninglessness of Polls

The results for this really lame CNN poll were split exactly 50/50 when I first checked.

No wonder, there are just too many ways to intepret it:
  • Yes, it's what I expected - we're doing fine (head in the sand approach quite popular with Instapundit and the folks at NRO)
  • Yes, we're in a quagmire as predicted (me and a few billion other people around the world)
  • No, we're doing better than expected (hah! see same NRO folks?)
  • No, we're doing worse than I expected (any honest people over there on the right? Senators Lieberman and Kerry? Other misguided lefties?)
Whether the percentages change or not is irrelevent. The question is so vaguely worded it makes the results essentially meaningless.

The poll on the CNN International site is a little more straight forward:

And the results? 34% Yes, 66% No last I checked.

Insert usual boilerplate blather about the inaccuracy of such polls here.

I'm always fascinated by how these polls differ on CNN's U.S. versus International sites. Sometimes, they have the same poll. And the results can be radically different on the U.S. site versus the European site. Sometimes, they have the same poll, only slightly reworded, but effectively spinning the poll in a different direction for the audience. And often the polls are entirely unrelated.

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