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…

…Read the rest of my article in The Hill here:


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