Score Another One for Poll-Based Leadership

I find surveys, polls and all things opinion as fascinating as anyone, but there is really a problem when we begin to take the voice voter as so expressed too seriously.

For example, if you were asked if you would rather have root canal surgery or be dunked naked into a pool full of puppies, you are much more likely to want to get the canine tickle fest. Its only natural. And if you’re asked if you’d rather see someone else lose their job, raise state revenue by leeching off the addicted, or pay more in taxes, I don’t think anyone is going to be shocked that the most common anonymous answer is “no new taxes.”

So, here we have yet another example. Quinnipiac conducted a state-wide survey in Pennsylvania, asking among other questions, how the state’s revenue problems might best be eased. Raising taxes, legalizing gambling in the state and laying off workers are all presented separately as options. Entirely unsurprisingly, the results are a tortured amalgam of “no new taxes.” No shit, really?

It might (I stress might, because I am hardly an expert in the ways of thinking) be better if they asked, “laying off workers would save X dollars but mean not getting X services. Raising taxes by X percent would raise the average income by X amount. Which would you prefer?” But of course, they do not ask that kind of question.