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The Texas Blue
Advancing Progressive Ideas

The RNC (Manufactured) Critical Issues Survey

The RNC and John McCain have sent out an email blast imploring everyone to fill out their "RNC Critical Issues Survey 2008". It is not so much a survey as a loyalty pledge and ideological map.

For instance, as a social scientist I was trained to build survey questions so that they aren't leading, to ask questions that can be answered simply without delimiting the choices available to the respondent. The questions in this survery, conversely, offer abject lessons in what not to do if you want real, predictive information:

1. Do you think Congress should respond to the economic slowdown with a plan of tax cuts to stimulate the economy?
Yes No

2. Do you believe our economy will grow if we cut taxes and put more money in the hands of hardworking Americans who pay taxes?
Yes No

See, saying "...with a plan of tax cuts to stimulate the economy?" is leading - it forces the idea on the respondent that tax cuts will automatically stimulate the economy. (Which they won't.)

So, really, this is less of a survey and more of a totally anecdotal poll about what issues the RNC should focus on to make the donor base happy. And they haven't even done that right. If they had graduated responses (1=Not Important, 10=The Most Important; or even How important is this issue? Not Important At All, Somewhat Important, Very Important, The Most Important) they would actually have some frame of reference for preference.

Instead, they will get a bunch of responses that say Yes or No, and I'm willing to bet the majority of hardcore RNC donors on that list that can even be bothered to fill out an online "survey" will wish for a "Select Yes For All" button.

I dunno. Maybe this is for use in internal party politics? In the never ending message control war within the GOP?

Great Example

This is a great example of push polling your own partisans to reinforce your message. Asking these questions in isolation and only giving respondents a binary choice for answers reinforces two key core Republican traits:

1) Tax cuts no matter what else is going on in the world. Asking questions about tax cuts in isolation reinforces the mistaken idea that they are always appropriate.

2) You are either with us or against us. The formulation of a yes/no answer (I doubt there are going to be that many undecideds) drives home the point of the question...i.e. if you answer no, then you don't want to stimulate the economy and you want to take money out of the hands of hard working Americans.

These folks don't really do subtlety.

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