the truth about opinion polls.

Opinion polls are popular fodder for cable news networks and Web sites. While poll results make for lively debate, I’m not entirely sold on their value other than a snapshot of the moment. And even then, it’s a blurry picture, at best.

Case in point, I found this two-year old nugget at Gallup.com:

In August 1963, Gallup found considerable public opposition to the now-famous civil rights march on Washington in which King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. The poll was conducted about two weeks before the march, at which time 71% were familiar with “the proposed mass civil rights rally to be held in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 28.” Of those who were familiar, only 23% said they had a favorable view of “the rally”; 42% had an unfavorable view of it (including 7% who predicted violence would occur) and 18% said it wouldn’t accomplish anything.

If you were to see these numbers back in 1963, you’d think this rally was an awful, pugnacious gathering of a bunch of radicals. Ain’t it funny how history now portrays this supposedly unpopular event as a watershed moment for civil rights in America? In other words, opinion polls are merely a MacGuffin to spark cajole/polarize/strike fear/solicit donations, etc.

Just a little something to consider as people continue to wage a war over the passage of health care reform in the US.

Read the rest of the article here:
On King Holiday, a Split Review of Civil Rights Progress

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