Reason-Rupe Public Opinion Survey

Jonathan Chait is Wrong About Reason's Polling

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New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait, in the course of disagreeing with the notion that we're living through a libertarian moment, has mischaracterized the Reason-Rupe public opinion research survey as an advocacy poll seeking to bend the truth:

Reason has invested a great deal of money and time in promoting its claim to represent America's youth, including regular polls that purport to bolster this claim. It's important to understand that, since small changes in the framing of a poll can produce dramatically different responses, it is possible to produce polling that seems to show agreement with any position the sponsor of the poll desires. Advocacy organizations routinely sponsor polls that show the public supportive of their own position. Reason is the only magazine I know of that uses this tactic.

Reason-Rupe has conducted 13 national or state polls to date, one of which was focused on millennials. The announcement of our millennials poll findings includes the following words:

Millennials Think Government Is Inefficient, Abuses Its Power, and Supports Cronyism

But young Americans also want government to guarantee health insurance and living wages; plan to vote for Democrats in 2014 and 2016….

[M]illennials also support more government action and higher spending in a number of key areas:

71 percent favor raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour

69 percent say it is government's responsibility to guarantee everyone access to health care and 51 percent have a favorable view of the Affordable Care Act

68 percent say government should ensure everyone makes a living wage

66 percent say raising taxes on the wealthy would help the economy

63 percent say spending more on job training would help the economy

58 percent say the government should spend more on assistance to the poor even it means higher taxes

57 percent favor spending more money on infrastructure

54 percent favor a larger government that provides more services, when taxes are not mentioned

54 percent want government to guarantee everyone a college education

Now, does this read like the outcome of a libertarian advocacy poll?

In Chait's view, Pew polls are reliable and Reason-Rupe polls are not. Most of the Reason-Rupe polls are conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International—the very same company that conducts the Pew telephone polls. Our recent poll of millennials was conducted by YouGov, using its web-enabled survey software, the same group that The New York Times, CBS, The Economist, and The Huffington Post trust to conduct their surveys.

Any serious pollster knows that fair and objective wording is crucial to the integrity of a poll, and it is a paramount consideration when we develop our surveys.

Chait offers zero specifics in his article to back up his claim. But in a Twitter exchange last night, he provides this example of what he calls "crafted" language that is not neutral:

Here are the questions to which he is referring:

Chait accepts our first question as neutral, but dismisses the second question as "crafted"—one of what he calls "obvious prompts for downsides of bigger government."

A key objective of the Reason-Rupe Poll is to ask tradeoff questions, such as this, which are often not asked by other major polls. This helps shed light on how opinions are affected when respondents are presented with realistic costs and tradeoffs associated with public policies, rather than simple questions that ignore such consequences. That's what we did here with half of our sample, and we reported both results. We believe this adds some depth and nuance to public opinion research.

Perhaps some are uncomfortable with poll questions that examine preferences when considering real world tradeoffs associated with an active government.  But readers can decide for themselves whether or not they think research questions such as these contribute to our understanding of public opinion.

As always, our survey questions, methodology, topline results, and complete crosstabs are all available online for review and discussion.

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  1. Even suggesting there are trade-offs is anathema to many on the left.

    1. Their whole worldview is predicated on the notion of FREE STUFF, which they really believes comes free.

      1. Actually, they know it doesn’t (hence the constant lying), but they don’t want anyone to think about that because in their minds it comes from the “rich” and “corporations” and that’s really what they want anyway. Remember that the primary motivator behind everything they do is hate and envy.

        1. One pie that cannot grow. The hugeness of that fallacy in the face of America’s past economic success is staggering.

          Make the pie bigger, and there’s only one effective way of doing that.

          1. It’s amazing to me the destruction and waste they will blithely ignore as long as they think the people they hate are getting hurt. And the kicker is, usually they aren’t. Rich people have the resources to dodge most things that get thrown at them. So just the hope that some rich people might have to pay a fractional amount more (and that will not even remotely affect their lifestyle) is enough for them to support incredibly terrible policies.

            You’ll note they aren’t too bright.

            1. We could–no, we should–be well on the way to very advanced technologies and maybe even tapping into the resources of the solar system. Instead, we’ve got this stupid kleptocracy that is slowing down our technological advancement, weakening our economy, and stripping us of the rights and incentives to lead happy, productive lives. All for what?

              1. Because someone might get rich, ProL.

                I really don’t think you understand how massively powerful envy is for these people. I’ve met a lot of people who were intensely, self-destructively jealous and hateful of anyone at all who had more than them. It colored everything they did, all their interactions, all their obsessions.

                1. So post-scarcity superwealth is right out, isn’t it? Crap.

                2. From each according to my hostility, to each according to my greed.

                  1. This is gold.

                3. Poll the man on the street about “Do (CEOs, Athletes, Movie Stars, the Guys in Front of You in Line at the Grocery Store) get paid too much?” and see what you get.

                  My own experience bears out that more people than don’t think that people who make a lot of money are dishonest, undeserving, and/or criminal. They are not sure exactly why when asked for reasons however, because reason has nothing to do with it. They are only sure that someone has a lot of money and they don’t and that’s not right. It is simply Covetous Envy.

                  It may be hardwired into people’s brains to lean that way for all I know. Some animal instinct to hit the other primate over the head with a rock and take their banana that is only partially subdued by civilization’s advances maybe, but it seems to exist to some degree in the majority of the people I have broached the subject with and when it gets channeled by a political movement the results range from unhelpful to gruesome.

                  1. Sure, if you ask a question like that. If you ask them whether those people have ugly children or bad taste in cars, you’ll get them to say that too. That says nothing about their actual sentiments.

              2. I often wonder what our economy would be like now if we hadn’t wasted 1/3 of our GDP on government bloat but had instead left it to private imaginations and all the marvelous improvements and inventions they would have come up with. We’d be so far ahead of the rest of the world and their statist-clogged societies, probably having orbital vacations for the masses, a much more flexible and tolerant society, far fewer poor, one tenth the prison population.

                All those bureaucrats would have to have real jobs, productive ones. The rest of the world would be envious but wouldn’t hate us like they do now for all our busybody concern for their societies.

                Crap it would be nice.

            2. Oh, C’mon y’all. All these accusations of envy are ridiculous. I have it on good authority that it is a fairness issue. Fairness.

              Why do y’all hate fairness?

              1. Why do y’all hate fairness?

                Cause it?s evil.

        2. I think this is right most of the time, but I remember listening to a debate on KGO radio here in the bay area a few years back. Ray Taliaferro was talking about some program he helpde institute in SF, with money from the Feds. One of the other debater’s asked him, then where did the money come from, implying that it came from taxpayers. Ray just dumbly repeated, “it came from the government,” as if it was some magic pump that spewed out his free money.

          1. …”Ray just dumbly repeated, “it came from the government,” as if it was some magic pump that spewed out his free money.”

            It’s from the orchard right behind the capital building.
            The harvest was thin this year.

          2. He’s right. But it only spews free money to certain people. Do you think the national debt is ever going to be paid off?

        3. Actually, they know it doesn’t (hence the constant lying),

          Not to mention the insidious campaign to silence the owner of the River Oasis Caf? in Stillwater, MN for exposing the fact that the minimum wage drives up prices. I encourage everyone here to leave him a positive Yelp review.

          1. Amazing:

            “Absolutely ridiculous to add a surchage for min. Wage fee on each check..”

            ‘They told me it doesn’t cost anything and I don’t want to be reminded of my idiocy in voting for it!’

    2. ….

      dammit thats the only comment i had.

    3. Come on man, it’s all about intentions.

      As long as they mean well, any cost is acceptable.

    4. THERE IS NO DOWNSIDE TO BIG GOVERNMENT.

    5. You’re manipulating their opinion by pointing out costs! That’s not fair!

  2. Make my life complete, poll Millennials on what they think of books by Reason editors.

  3. Forget Jonathan Chait, what do millenials think about Reason’s polling?

    1. Millenials were overwhelmingly upset to be duped by Reason’s partisan push-polling, which purports to demonstrate their preference for policies promulgated by the racist teathugger GOP.

      1. Teat hugger?

        1. I saw them in concert back in ’83. Awesome show.

        2. Sounds like a movement I would like to join …

  4. It’s important to understand that, since small changes in the framing of a poll can produce dramatically different responses, it is possible to produce polling that seems to show agreement with any position the sponsor of the poll desires.

    I’m sure we can find Jon making this same point around the innumerable polls sponsored by various lefty/prog/Dem/DemOp media outlets. Right?

    Advocacy organizations routinely sponsor polls that show the public supportive of their own position. Reason is the only magazine I know of that uses this tactic.

    Oh, fer fuck’s sake. Jon is apparently bright enough to write an English sentence, so I can only chalk this up as a blatant lie.

  5. Fuck millennials. Fuck baby boomers too, while you’re at it.

    Oh. And fuck Jonathan Chait.

    1. I’d love to but they are really a little young for me, no?

  6. “Now, does this read like the outcome of a libertarian advocacy poll?”

    Most assuredly not. It reads like the outcome of a poll that says millennials aren’t libertarian at all.

  7. Chait made up stuff when he wrote his article? Say it ain’t so.

  8. Shorter summation: Ideologue mad not everyone shares his ideology, pouts and whines in response.

    1. It’s probably why he went bald at 16.

    2. You didn’t lie like he does! Not fair! Not fair!

  9. Jonathan Chait is Wrong About Reason’s Polling, Always

    FIFY

  10. “Perhaps some are uncomfortable with poll questions that examine preferences when considering real world tradeoffs associated with an active government. ”

    Looking at the *facts of reality* obviously shows a libertarian *bias*.

    Dems don’t do it. Repubs don’t do it. Obviously, if you do it, you have a libertarian *bias*.

  11. What are millennials’ feeling about Jonathan Chait?
    Are they aware of his existence?

  12. “High taxes” means what? I was here for all the Millennial polls. The questions were often laughably crafted.

    1. Pick a number, sweetheart. I’ll tell you it’s too high.

      The questions were often laughably crafted.

      Shouldn’t be difficult to reference one or two, then. The links are above.

      1. I believe one was:

        Do you prefer:

        Repealing Obamacare (53%)
        Being sodomized by a flanged mace (36%)
        No opinion (11%)

        IT’S A LIBERTARIAN MOMENT.

        1. It’s not at all clear that’s a leading question. Some people know how to enjoy their Friday night.

        2. So, you’re a 36%, eh?

        3. In other words, you couldn’t come up with a real example. Thank you.

          1. “In other words, you couldn’t come up with a real example.”

            Hypotheticals, misdirection, strawmen, lies, hey, the man’s got ’em all!

        4. Being sodomized by a flanged mace

          Doods and Doodettes

          This is why you are responding to a sock puppet.

          Let it go.

          … Hobbit

    2. Presumably higher than they are now, which would be quite a lot.

      1. What about just enough to cover the deficit you probably inordinately care about?

        1. What about cutting spending to the point where the deficit (that Obo *used to care about*) is covered?

          1. How about a little of both? Deal? No, you’re a thick-headed dogmatist and will never compromise on solving the problem you think is very important?

        2. Your model of how the world works seems to consist of 2 pulleys, a bit of string and a wad of bubblegum. That’s why you always get these silly answers.

  13. Chait accepts our first question as neutral, but dismisses the second question as “crafted” – one of what he calls “obvious prompts for downsides of bigger government.”

    Of course, if that’s the case, the only way Chait can claim the first question is neutral is if he denies that “more services” from governmet is an upside of bigger government. I don’t think that leads to the conclusion he wants.

  14. Is it unusual for pollsters to ask the same question two different ways in the same poll? Is it unusual to provide context for the respondent? I have no idea how polls usually present their questioning. I have read some poll questions that were quite obviously pushing for a specific response, but this one doesn’t seem to be anywhere close to what I’ve seen in push polling.

    1. Yes, good polling organizations routinely ask different questions or modify the order of answers while polling to try to mitigate the humans bias which leads a fair number of people towards the first set of information they hear.

      IE – they might ask something (a while back) like,

      If the election were held today, who would you vote for?
      a) Kerry
      b) Bush
      c) Clinton
      Etc..

      Next call… If the election….
      a) Bush
      b) Kerry
      c) Clinton

      Regardless, the idea that ?would you rather lower taxes and fewer services or higher taxes and more services? is somehow, non-objective, because it includes the obvious consequences of choosing one decision over another is laughable.

      1. But they’d get confused when I replied with “regicide”

      2. But Chait lives with the delusion that it is not an obvious consequence. In his mind, government spending has such “multipliers” that the more we tax and spend, the better off everybody is. So, to his deluded mind, the question is biased, because it should read something like “Larger government, more services, more wealth for everybody.”

        It’s the economic equivalent of young earth creationism, of course, but the left and the right are quite balanced in their foolishness and stupidity.

  15. Don’t you know Emily, using the word “tax” is tea bagging racist code and eliminationist language.

    1. DOG WHISTLE

      1. Yes, I’ve noticed that.

        1. I keep hearing that there are no libertarian women. But based on the staff at Reason, it seems like there are, and they are pretty hot.

  16. Unlike, say, AARP polls?

    1. Do you:
      a)want free shit
      b)want to be forced to eat alpo for the rest of your miserable life because your grandkids are koch-rich insufferable little shits.

      1. Chait would consider this a neutral poll question.

  17. How about we skip the polling and just ask people for short essays on how they feel about the government? Here’s mine:

    “Fuck you, cut spending. And comply with the Constitution at a minimum or die a horrific, ebola-like death.”

      1. Fuckers ate my sandwich.

      2. People who post videos on Youtube that they recorded off of their television sets are going to burn in hell.

      3. Just spend 3 hours clicking through Ron Swanson videos on Youtube….

        Thanks a fucking lot!!

  18. First they mock you…. Something something something… And eventually they form a solid exposed riot line in your cross hairs.

    1. A saiga12 doesn’t have crosshairs.

  19. In related news, Jonathan Chait is still a cunt.

  20. “I want ALL government with less services and 100% taxes.”

    – Communism

  21. It’s been well established that Chait = troll. Why respond to it?

  22. Well now that makes a lot of sense dude.

    http://www.AnonGalaxy.tk

  23. Aside, a link from the bottom of the link about another senseless gun death.

    Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, James Brady, died Monday at the age of 73. But now, a medical examiner has ruled Brady’s death a homicide, linking it to the bullet that hit him during a 1981 attempt on Reagan’s life.

    You had to know it was coming.

    1. This is pretty grim but here’s news footage of the incident

      http://www.maniacworld.com/Ass…..eagan.html

    2. Which could have been prevented if only sensible gun restrictions had been in place.

      1. I can’t tell, Duke, is that sarcasm or trolling?

  24. Heaven forbid that a poll explicitly demonstrate that people like big government if and only if it doesn’t increase their own taxes.

    Perhaps this key bit of information would have alerted us to the possibility of the electorate getting pissed off when they discovered that expanding health care insurance would necessarily drive up costs for the previously insured.

    1. Heaven forbid that a poll explicitly demonstrate that people like big government if and only if it doesn’t increase their own taxes.

      Poll Shows Millennials Basically Like Ever Other Demographic doesn’t get as many clicks.

  25. I think you meant to put period in the headline after the fourth word.

  26. “Do you want a pony?” is neutral.

    “Do you want a pony you have to pay for and clean up after?” is … not?

  27. Chait isn’t as bright as he pretends to be, or perhaps as he actually thinks he is.

    He’s also damaged characterologically, persistently oily and dishonest.

    I once wrote something on my blog about how his wife worked for Organizing for America, the Obama flak brothel, and he actually quoted, linked and attacked the blog in the “New Yorker” for purveying this falsehood. And I was wrong. The poor woman worked for the Center for American Progress, the Hillary flak brothel . Chait did not however volunteer that info.

    By the way, he lives in the almost all white Chevy Chase, DC neighborhood, as does every god damned crap sucking proglodyte bitch from Andrea Mitchell to Chris Matthews to Jay Carney to Andrea Rosen to David Gregory, all living in lily white DC neighborhoods in a 50% black city. Demonstrated preference racism.

    1. “He’s also damaged characterologically, persistently oily and dishonest.”

      And I think we can state without danger of contradiction that the man is cluically-challenged.

  28. Proggies apparently think opportunity costs are an evil conspiracy between the Koch Brothers, the KKKorporations!!, and DA JOOS.

    1. Scarcity is an outmoded economic theory. All needs can be provided for with infinite monetary inflation and frequent episodes of fiscal stimulus. If that fails, we’ll expropriate the rich and spread the goodies around. THE SCIENCE IS SETTLED.

      1. “infinite monetary inflation and frequent episodes of fiscal stimulus”

        My god, I never realized that we have actually elected a Fluffer-in-Chief.

  29. You can take our liberty, but you can never take our previous millennial polls!

    1. *Precious urgh.

  30. Excellent post.

    Chait seems to think that the only “neutral” question is to simply ask Millenials if they want more free shit or less.

    But removing a question like “would you like more benefits” from the context of the costs it IN ITSELF a way of biasing the framing of the question.

    IMO, The second framing is the MORE neutral, precisely because it doesn’t divorce benefits from costs.

    1. Yep. Prompted me to quote Bastiat below.

  31. Dana Milbank or Jonathan Chait bigger boot licking authoritarian hack?

    Discuss

  32. Dana Milbank or Jonathan Chait bigger boot licking authoritarian hack?

    Discuss

  33. As always, our survey questions, methodology, topline results, and complete crosstabs are all available online for review and discussion.

    Well this is the first time I’ve heard about it.

  34. Citizens! In all times, two political systems have been in existence, and each may be maintained by good reasons. According to one of them, Government ought to do much, but then it ought to take much. According to the other, this two-fold activity ought to be little felt. We have to choose between these two systems. But as regards the third system, which partakes of both the others, and which consists in exacting everything from Government, without giving it anything, it is chimerical, absurd, childish, contradictory, and dangerous. Those who parade it, for the sake of the pleasure of accusing all governments of weakness, and thus exposing them to your attacks, are only flattering and deceiving you, while they are deceiving themselves.
    -Bastiat

    It’s only fair if the poll asks if they want free shit. Asking if they want to pay for it isn’t fair, because that implies that the shit ain’t free.

  35. I want all services provided and no taxes…
    and birthday wishes to come true and a 15 inch prick.
    I propose that only idiots participate in phone polls anyway and that should be taken into account of each poll.

    1. Why do you want a 15 inch prick? Most women will look at it and say “You want to put that where?”

      (Exact quote from a young white lady I used to work with who said she had a fascination with black guys until her black boyfriend dropped his underwear, and since then she’s all about the white-bread)

  36. As usual, Jonathan Chait is, well, full of Shait.

  37. Smack MacDougal: Thread Killer, Moronic Anti-Savant, Ur-Pedanterist

  38. I’m guessing that Smack MacDougal is the only one here who actually cares what Chait thinks.

    [Artie Johnson] Interesting [/Artie Johnson]

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