Keep Your Poll to Yourself

I’m inclined to support Judge Sotomayor for Supreme Court, so far. Nothing the Right has brought up has been terribly interesting – in fact, the Connecticut firefighter case is so esoterically legal, it’s amusing watching the Republicans try to make it a nice sound bite like they like to exploit.

But I know jack-shit about her, and I suspect those of you reading this are probably in the same boat. We need a hearing to know anything much about her; I don’t think there’s even been a public interview of the woman so far.

So why is the media polling Americans about their support for the Judge? How could we possibly know what our support level actually is, and of what value is our opinion in that case? Polling about something like abortion, a subject for which there’s lots of avenues of information, is appropriate. What we know or don’t know about the subject says as much about our opinion as does our opinion.

But in this case, the only thing we have to go on is either our level of support or lack thereof for Barack Obama; our racial prejudices; our sexual prejudices. What else is there? These things are almost completely static, absent any information, and don’t represent really usable data.

Once a hearing happens and Republicans and Democrats get to grandstand, then our public opinion polls will be of some value. Until then, cudgeling politicians with Sotomayor’s 80% approval rating is useless as anything other than a partisan sledgehammer.