Thursday, June 19, 2008

Misleading Poll on Oil Drilling

Here's the way CNN ran the poll story:

A new Gallup poll suggests more than half of the country may support a proposal backed by President Bush and Sen. John McCain to allow states to authorize off-shore oil drilling, a practice currently banned by the federal government.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans favor allowing oil drilling in coastal and wilderness areas that are currently off-limits. Forty-one percent of Americans oppose allowing drilling in those areas, and 2 percent have no opinion.

Here was Gallup's actual question: "Please state whether you favor or oppose taking the following steps to attempt to reduce the price of gasoline."
TO ATTEMPT TO REDUCE THE PRICE OF GAS. This is the problem with polling. The question can be misleading. People answered based on the fact that they thought gas prices would go down. But that's not the reality. Gas prices WILL NOT go down with more drilling.

Here's the way the question could've been better asked: Do you favor offshore drilling for oil even though it wouldn't lower gas prices?
Or: Do you favor offshore drilling in areas set aside for wildlife, even though it wouldn't lower gas prices.

You see, it's all in the questions. Pollsters know this. Polls can inform and influence. It's all about the intention.