Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Making Decisions Based on Public Poll Surveys

There is much activity relating to polls on various topics of interest generated on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. The outcome and accuracy of polls is dependent upon honest and random participation of chosen participants. Many times the outcome of polls taken may not or will not be reflective of the actual public position. Those who take polls in some cases want to project a specific outcome. This can be for a variety of reasons. If a poll is taken of democrats and republicans on an issue the outcome may or will be different based on part affiliation. Polls taken must be reliable in that the participants should be randomly selected to provide a cross section of the public and their opinion on the issues. The results must be verified to some extent to be reliable. Exit polls taken during elections may not or have not been reflective of the outcome for a specific state. The reason can be due to the sample taken or the actual response of the participants.

Some politicians and this does not mean all politicians, regularly look at poll numbers make decisions based upon what they perceive is the public viewpoint on given topics. This is occurring since the politicians, especially those running for re-election want to be on the side of the public so they will be re-elected. This is wrong. Politicians should base their decisions on the issue at hand not on the public approval or disapproval for a given legislative action. The merits of proposed legislation should be evaluated and then a decision made based on the value and benefit to their constituents and/or the country. The news media regularly present polls on the issues. This is only of value if the polls are randomly taken and not skewed to present a specific viewpoint as with the position of the media taking the poll. This does not imply that polls taken by all organizations are skewed. However, the outcome can be determined based on the population used.

All politicians local, state and federal and even the President should not make decisions based on polls taken by any organization. Decisions should made be based upon the merits of the issue and what it is felt to be the right decision to make. Sometimes decisions need to be made that are unpopular but they need to be made. Making decisions based on the outcome of polls does not say much for the integrity of the decisions that are made. Politicians must have enough integrity to make decisions not based on polls or party position but on the merits of the issue. They need to make decisions that are right for their constituents and/or the country. If we start making decisions or in some cases continue to make decisions based on the opinions of others we affect the value and integrity of the decisions we make.


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