Tuesday, June 21, 2011

KSTP poll: It's all in the question

@aaronklemz If you were going to commission a poll at this point, wouldn't YOU ask

That pretty much sums up my feelings about this poll. Only I might add a WTF, or something similar, but I'm a bit more uncouth than Aaron is.

KSTP, as they are wont to do, asked a couple different questions about the budget, but none of them really got to the point; who's budget do you favor the Governor's or the GOP Legislature's.

Not only that, they asked completely different questions from the survey that they did at the end of May, only one month ago, meaning we can't even really compare the two surveys.

SurveyUSA (6/20, no trendlines):
Going forward, should Minnesota's government increase spending? Decrease spending? Or continue to spend about the same amount as it has been?

Increase 8
Decrease 60
About The Same 27
Not Sure 5
(MoE: ±4.1%)

This question is just dumb. An increase in spending is not even on the table unless you consider Governor Dayton's plan to be an increase in spending, which it is not. The Governor's plan proposes to decrease spending compared to projections.

No one involved in the negotiations is advocating for an increase in spending so why ask the question this way? And again, why ask a different question then the one you asked in May?

SurveyUSA (5/24, no trendlines):
Minnesota has a five billion dollar budget deficit. Should Minnesota raise taxes on just the wealthiest Minnesotans? Raise taxes on all Minnesotans? Cut spending? Or raise taxes and cut spending?

Raise Taxes on Wealthy 31
Raise Taxes on All 4
Cut Spending 36
Both 27
Not Sure 2
(MoE: ±4.3%)

And that was a different formulation than the one they used in March.

Now I don't know about you, but if I was in charge of commissioning polls for a news organization I think I would want my questions to be consistent, so I could do things like, you know, compare recent surveys with ones I did only a month ago.

Apparently KSTP wasn't happy with the question wording it used in May, not that I blame them, but rather than improving the question they simply doubled down on the dumb. As Aaron said in his above tweet, why not just ask who's plan you support?

Not only that, there was no question to all of the respondents asking how they fell about increased taxes on the wealthy. The question on revenue was only asked of those who said they support increasing state spending, again, a position that no one is taking.

Fortunately approval/disapproval questions are really hard to mess up and in these numbers we get a similar picture to the other recent polling.

SurveyUSA (6/20, no trendlines):
Do you approve or disapprove of the job Mark Dayton is doing as Governor?

Approve 42
Disapprove 43
Not sure 15

Do you approve or disapprove of the job the State Legislature is doing?

Approve 23
Disapprove 65
Not sure 12
(MoE: ±4.1%)

While Governor Dayton's numbers here are worse then the recent PPP poll, so are the legislature's and the differences between the two remain the same.

In the KSTP poll Dayton is at -1 and the Leg is at -42(!), a roughly 40 point difference. In the PPP poll Dayton was at +13 with the GOP Leg at -29, again, a roughly 40 point difference.

Obviously, there is a segment of voters who support the Governor, yet when asked how they would deal with the budget issue respond with the answer of decreasing spending, which is part of the Governor's plan anyway. So again, the results of this poll don't really tell us anything because KSTP asked questions that don't really mean anything.

How should the question have been asked?

"Do you support Governor Dayton's plan to balance the budget through spending cuts and increased taxes on the wealthy or do you support the Legislature's plan to balance the budget through spending cuts?"

That wasn't hard now was it?

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