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