Inane questions undermine poll results

ppp1Last night, Rachel Maddow reported that a just-released national poll by liberal-leaning PPP gives Hilllary Clinton the edge against Donald Trump. At first glance, for a Hillary supporter like me, that was comforting news. Unfortunately, in addition to asking likely voters for their Presidential preference, the pollsters also asked a bunch of inane questions.


Salon reports that…

The liberal-leaning pollsters also asked African-American voters to compare their preference for a Trump presidency to a list of awful things such as bedbugs, junk mail, carnies, bubonic plague and middle airplane seat.

“I can now report, this year’s Republican presidential nominee is less popular than middle seats on airplanes,” Maddow announced,

Maddow made that pronouncement with the snarky, yuck-yuck glee that can turn her hour of pirme- time into something more like a late-night comedy show than the serious, fact-based program that, at its best, it can be.

Maddow’s attitude was unfortunate. But the true culprit here is the poll itself. Somebody at the otherwise well-respected PPP [Nate Silver’s fivethirtyeight.com gives it a B+], thought it would be cute to ask a bunch of sophomoric questions.

All I can say is that including those questions, and reporting the corresponding answers as a way of trying to be hip, taints the seriousness of PPP,  throws doubt into their methodology, and ultimately makes me feel less confident in the value of their results.

Here’s the clip: