Every now and then, someone trots out a poll that is written in such a way that it predetermines what the responses will be.
That happened with a recent Harris Interactive poll that showed among other things that 45 percent of Republicans agree with “birthers” who believe President Obama was “not born in the United States” and is thus not eligible to be president.
The problem with the poll was that its methodology has been questioned by experts in that field. A story from the Columbia Journalism Review, linked here, details some of the problems with this and other polls designed to show extreme views by either conservatives or liberals.
Other interesting and questionable findings of the poll were that:
• 38 percent of Republicans presumably say that Obama is “doing many of the things that Hitler did.”
• 24 percent of Republicans responded that Obama may be the Antichrist.
So, what options the poll respondents were allowed to give and were questions asked in such a way that they incited flippant responses more than thoughtful answers. The CJR piece also hints that respondents were “pushed” toward more extreme answers.
I’ll buy that the partisan divide is approaching Grand Canyon proportions. I don’t believe that the conspiracy theorists — birthers among the Obama haters and the “Bush/Cheney orchestrated 9-11 believers” among the liberals — represent the views of large percentages of Americans.