Friday, March 19, 2004

Gay marriage poll rigged

Mike Rosen of The Rocky Mountain News smelled something fishy going on, and did a little checking into the wording of polls in order to elicit a desired result.

Anytime I hear the results of a poll, one I favor or disfavor, I always want to know the question that was asked. As a political science major, I learned how the manipulation of words and questions is used to gain a desired end. It's used every day by the media and advertisers.

According to a March 10 editorial masquerading as a news story in The Washington Post, the paper's most recent poll found that a majority of Americans "reject(s) amending the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriages in favor of allowing states to make their own laws." Having just seen a CBS News poll suggesting an entirely opposite public sentiment, my first reaction was to compare the wording of the respective questions. My suspicions were confirmed. The Post led respondents to its desired answer by manipulating the question.

CBS News straightforwardly asked: "Would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would allow marriage only between a man and a woman?" By a wide margin, 59 percent favored such an amendment; 35 percent opposed it. The Washington Post put the question this way: "Would you support amending the U.S. Constitution to make it illegal for homosexual couples to get married anywhere in the U.S., or should each state make its own laws on homosexual marriage?" Worded that way, 43 percent favored an amendment; 54 percent opted for state laws.


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