Today in Misleading Polls

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The day is young, but I think we already have a winner in the least useful poll category. The latest from the ABC News/Washington Post poll shows that most people are in favor of the sequester but opposed to its specific cuts in the military.

Well, of course they are. But phrasing it this way is deeply misleading. People are always in favor of “budget cuts,” and they’re always opposed to cuts in actual programs when they’re mentioned by name. This poll is deliberately phrased to make it seem as if the public supports domestic cuts but not military cuts, and that simply isn’t true. The second question could have been about Social Security or road building or the FBI or education or anything else, and it would have gotten about 60 percent opposed. This has been true for approximately as long as polls have been conducted.

The ABC News report that passes along these poll results makes a teensy little nod to this well-known fact at the tail end of the story, noting that “support for budget cuts in general may be easier to express than support for cuts in particular programs.” This is about as opaque a reference as you could imagine. What’s the point of all this? It’s so deliberately deceptive that it’s hard to make sense of.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend