A recent poll shows that 80% of American voters support the Green New Deal. The pollsters also claim that “92 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans indicate that they either strongly or somewhat strongly support the initiative.”
Sound incredible? It is.
Phil Magness, a Senior Research Fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research, doesn’t believe it either. He explains how this team of professors from George Mason University and Yale University were able to generate such a remarkable – and completely bogus – result.
Magness assures us that “a very different story lurks beneath the surface of these impressive-looking statistics. He says that this was a “push poll” designed to bias respondents in favor of the proposition.” He writes:
“The trick behind the outcome may be seen in the question’s wording. Rather than asking voters directly about the GND, the pollsters first presented them with a glowing paragraph-length synopsis that touted the proposition’s fantastical claims:
Some members of Congress are proposing a “Green New Deal” for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy.
This paragraph is intended to create a favorable view of what the GND will do for America.
Missing from this idyllic scenario are the facts that air travel will be phased out, every building in America would require “”costly renovation and reconstruction” in order to meet new energy-efficiency rules,” we will be forced to become vegetarians and the size of our government will reach unmanageable proportions. In addition, the government would maintain control over most of the US economy. Finally, the price tag – $93 trillion – would bankrupt our country.
By presenting only the upside and eliminating the extremely dangerous consequences, these pollsters have “exploited public ignorance to produce a skewed result.”
Magness points out that most Americans have no clear idea of what’s involved in the GND, nor are they aware of the damage it would inflict on the US. He says, “The pollsters confirmed this finding in a separate question that showed 83 percent of respondents knew “nothing at all” about the program’s details. After supplying them with an overly rosy and biased synopsis of those details, they unsurprisingly found large majorities in favor.” He adds:
Loaded opinion polling of this type is a commonly encountered dirty trick in partisan political campaigns, where marketing firms associated with a certain candidate or policy try to build the illusion of public support (or hostility to the opposing party’s candidate) by asking intentionally loaded survey questions and then reporting the results as if they contained an accurate measure of public opinion. Long controversial, these tactics violate standard practices in survey design and question construction.
Unfortunately, the pollsters in this case are not political campaign consultants — they’re university professors at research institutes specializing in “climate change communication.” Given the way that they skewed their poll results toward the GND with biased and loaded questioning, it’s reasonable to ask whether their research output crossed the ethical line separating scholarship from politically motivated advocacy.
In college, I took a course called “How To Lie With Statistics.” I learned that it’s possible to manipulate numbers and facts to say just about anything one wants them to say.
Although Republican pollsters, such as Rasmussen, tend to overstate support of Republican candidates and initiatives, Democratic pollsters are equally or even more guilty of this practice. Which, I suppose, is why smart people don’t pay too much attention to polls.