When Polling Is Unethical

Gallup is both one of the oldest polling organizations and among the closest to objective, making it doubly irresponsible when it injects nonsense and ignorance into policy debates. This is what it did with two recent polls, headlined thusly: “Steady 58% of Americans Do Not Want Roe v. Wade Overturned” and ‘Pro-Choice’ Identification Rises to Near Record High in U.S.”

The immediate response here is “So what?” Abortion, at least since the misbegotten Roe v. Wade SCOTUS ruling in 1973, is matter of Constitutional law and individual rights, and neither of these are determined by popular opinion.. Nor should they be. Yet the reflex refrain of demagogues and the habitually dishonest when they are out of legitimate arguments is “the public overwhelmingly supports/opposes [fill in the blank],” a contention that inevitably depends on polling.

The threshold question Gallup asked its respondents on the abortion issue was “With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?” Useless. Did Gallup define what “pro-choice” or “pro-life” meant? Nope. Do “pro-choice” Americans believe a potential mother should be able to “choose” to kill a viable fetus right up to the moment of birth? Do they believe that abortion involves the taking of a life at any point? Ever? Do they care? Who knows? I don’t think most of those who responded that they were “pro-choice” know. It’s garbage in, garbage out: the poll results are meaningless, but they will still be cited as if they are profound.

On the survival of Roe, Gallup’s question was, “Would you like to see the Supreme Court overturn its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision concerning abortion, or not?” Gallup did not screen its polling group with essential questions, including…

  • “Have you read the SCOTUS opinion in Roe v. Wade?”
  • “Have you read the leaked Alito draft explaining the reasons for overturning it?”
  • “Have you ever read any SCOTUS opinion?”
  • “What is your understanding of what will occur if Roe is overturned?”
  • “If you haven’t read Roe or the Alito draft, on what basis have you formed your opinion about Roe?”

Absent answers to these questions (and others), all Gallup is relaying are uninformed opinions, the bane of democracy. These will then be picked up by mainstream media organizations with a pro-abortion agenda, and headlined to allow elected officials rationalizations to compound the confusion while engaging in incompetent and irresponsible policy deliberations.

6 thoughts on “When Polling Is Unethical

  1. Of course they will.

    And the sheep will gleefully repeat and then blame and shame all who don’t toe the “majority” line.

    It’s becoming nearly unbelievable.

    And, also, masses are waking up taking action in various levels where it will cost those in leadership and affect THEIR lives in tangible ways.

    Amazing how different they become when their actions will mean repercussions.

    Hope my comment makes it!

  2. I get a kick out of Roe v. Wade being described as “misbegotten.” Hah!

    An additional screening question might ask “Have you ever seen a penumbra or an emanation?

  3. I may be mistaken, but 2 key Civil Rights Decisions overturned the Dred Scott decision and Plessy v Ferguson. Neither of these were overturned due to popular opinion supporting their overturning but, rather on both equity and a solid foundation of earlier decisions (especially the work of Thurgood Marshall) that led, inescapably, to reversal of the prior precedents.

    That’s not to say that the reversal of these two didn’t result in protests in certain States (consider Eisenhower’s use of the 101st Airborne in Little Rock—aside: I don’t think DDE invoked the Insurrection Act, so I’m at a loss to understand how deployment of active duty US Army Airborne Troops didn’t violate the Posse Comitatus Act). Nonetheless, SCOTUS didn’t decide in favor of overturning Scott and Plessy based on opinion polling but, rather, solid jurisprudence that rendered the result inescapably, I suspect.

    Food for additional thoughts,

    MB

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