Surveys are not alike in accuracy or intent

While it is not a new phenomenon, survey results are often touted without clarity around the accuracy and veracity of the survey results. Some surveys are not worth the paper they are written on or cyberspace they waste, while others are more marketing pitches than they are surveys. In other words, the survey is a ruse for the organization to tell you what they think.

Last year, I received a survey from the ACLU around voting and the election process. While I eagerly opened this up as it is a concern of mine, I was highly disappointed in the leading questions, that made the survey biased. The topic deserved better treatment than it was given by the surveyors. Last month, I received a survey from the Republican National Party which wanted my input on the key issues facing Americans. This survey was quite biased and leading with its questions and overlooked some of the major issues and concerns for Americans.

It was accompanied by a transmittal letter that was even more biased. Yet, the survey was not the intent of this package. The intent was to tell me what to think with the leading questions. To illustrate my point, here are a few examples from the cover letter:

“Obamacare is a political, administrative and logistical nightmare that is creating havoc and proving excessively costly and harmful to millions of individuals, families, and businesses. Do you fear Obamacare….is going to destroy America’s health system?…”

“Do you think our Republican leaders in Congress should be aggressive in forcing the Obama White House to work with them to create jobs, cut taxes and regulations, end economic uncertainty and make Americans more competitive?”

I could go on, but the cover letter was replete with comments like this before you got to the survey. The questions were not much better leading you to the conclusion that everything the President did was wrong and the Republicans had all the white horses and answers. Also, issues like climate change and eco-energy were not discussed in detail. Issues like poverty in America were not discussed. Issues like investing in our crumbling infrastructure was not discussed. An amendment to not equate money with free speech was not discussed. And, so on.

To further this point, I had to list myself as “other” as while the survey had “Independent leaning Conservative” they did not have “Independent” or “Independent leaning Liberal” as choices. I completed the survey and noted several times where the survey was asking biased questions. To me, the survey had little to do with getting feedback, although I am sure the conservative bent feedback will be used. To me the key goal was to market to the recipient with the simple message – Democrats bad, Republicans good.

That is unfortunate as a survey that asks good questions about our concerns would be relevant. Yet, when you spoon feed people biased information, even reasonable looking surveys have to be taken with a grain of salt. Obamacare is a great example. It is working pretty well on a number of fronts, yet it could be improved. Yet, most people, pundits and politicians do not know what it is. I received a canned response letter from Congressman today who gave me campaign rhetoric on Obamacare. It was such a disappointing letter, I responded with my disappointment and concerns giving him additional facts and reputable resources of information.

We need truth seekers to help find and disseminate the truth. Unfortunately, we will only be getting the party’s version of the truth, so we must look beyond them for answers. When our leaders govern with campaign rhetoric, they will have a hard time solving our problems. So, please look at the source of survey before giving it any veracity. Many surveys do not deserve the attention they get.