Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"One Man's Myth is Another Man's Margin of Victory"

Patrick Hynes over at Right Wing News discusses what this election is about. He notes the lacking of polling on "moral values":

I think pollsters leave “moral values” off their questionnaires because they know it will recalibrate the respondents’ frames of mind. Contrary to David Brooks’ analysis of “the facts”:

Much of the misinterpretation of this election derives from a poorly worded question in the exit polls. When asked about the issue that most influenced their vote, voters were given the option of saying "moral values." But that phrase can mean anything - or nothing. Who doesn't vote on moral values? If you ask an inept question, you get a misleading result.

…“moral values” can’t “mean anything.” Nor did it mean “nothing” in 2004. Brooks is a sharp cookie. Is he really confused about what “moral values voters” were saying? I mean, 82% of them voted the same way (for Bush), so it seems reasonably clear they were of the same mind on something, and it wasn’t the price of gas or global warming.

Instead, if pollsters asked about a respondent’s attitudes about “moral values,” it would immediately trigger in the respondent’s head images of law breaking civic officials who “marry” gay couples, angry feminists who wave “Abortion Yes!” banners, Hollywood filth and other cultural rubbish. And that would immediately in turn open up and let escape their inner rightwing nut. At that point it’s good bye Democrat advantage in your survey.

But that doesn’t sell, I suppose. So let’s just forget about “moral values” and the “mythical” voters of the same name … well, at least until the day after Election Day, when we rediscover that they do, indeed, exist. And they’re not wringing their hands over gas prices and healthcare.

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