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When polls are used to sway opinion rather than reflect it
As Americans debate the necessity of a border wall — or lack thereof — it’s not surprising if they’re confused. President Trump hasn’t always been exacting and consistent in expressing his vision. Yet a lot of confusion is being caused by media reports.
Take the polls.
Reporting on polls typically implies America is soundly against a border wall. “Sorry, Donald: Pew Poll Finds Large Majority Oppose Border Wall,” Mediaite wrote in April 2016, reporting on the results of a Pew Research poll.
Last February, Pew reported similar findings: 62 percent of Americans oppose building a wall. Only 35 percent support it.
But are we telling the whole story?
First, it’s worth looking at what Pew asked: “All in all, would you favor or oppose building a wall along the entire border with Mexico?” To me, it’s a confusing question. After all, there already is a wall or fencing along approximately 700 miles of the southern border. It might make more sense to ask, “Would you favor or oppose building a wall along the remaining, unwalled portion of the border with Mexico?”
Second, why ask about something that’s not under consideration: a wall along the “entire” border? If you think President Trump favors such a thing, that, too, might be blamed on confused reporting…
2008 December: President Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. 2009 Jan. 13: Reports say the clintonemail.com domain was established. Jan. 21: Senate confirms Clinton as secretary of state. March 18: Clinton will later name this as the date she began using a private server for government business. 2012 Sept. 11: Islamic extremists launch […]