Dumb Poll Questions

DUMB POLL QUESTIONS….AP trotted out one of the stalest tropes in all of politics this weekend:

For all the policy blueprints churned out by presidential campaigns, there is this indisputable fact: People care less about issues than they do about a candidate’s character.

A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll says 55 percent of those surveyed consider honesty, integrity and other values of character the most important qualities they look for in a presidential candidate.

….The AP-Ipsos poll of 1,001 adults, conducted Monday through Wednesday, found honesty was by far the most popular single trait , volunteered by 41 percent of voters in open-ended questioning.

Please. People might say they value character above all other traits, but guess what? People who identify as conservative and conservative-leaning vote for Republicans about 80% of the time. Liberals do the same for Democrats. Perhaps this is just a remarkable coincidence, but character sure seems to be mighty closely tied to party affiliation.

Look: policy white papers probably don’t swing many votes, though they might swing a few more than most pundits realize. (Why? Because the people who pay attention to them tend to be opinion leaders who sway other voters.) But plainly voters judge presidential candidates first and foremost by party ID and general policy preferences, and secondarily by personality traits. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I do it too. Don’t let dumb poll questions persuade you otherwise.