Polling a policy that doesn’t exist

POLLING A POLICY THAT DOESN’T EXIST…. Last week, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Looneyville) convinced herself that U.S. currency is under attack (it isn’t) and the threat of a “global currency” is real (it isn’t). What sparked the paranoia was a Chinese proposal to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency, which of course has nothing to do with Bachmann’s bizarre ideas.

So, naturally, Rasmussen put a poll in the field to ask Americans how they feel about a policy that exists solely in the twisted imagination of an unhinged House Republican.

Eighty-eight percent (88%) of Americans say it is important for the dollar to remain the currency of the United States, including 70% who say it is Very Important.

Only three percent (3%) say it is not at all important if the dollar remains America’s currency, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.

China’s top government banker and a United Nations panel have both proposed that the dollar be replaced with a new global currency. However, only 21% of American adults believe the proposal is intended primarily to help the global economy.

Forty-nine percent (49%) think the proposal for a new global currency is designed to weaken the economic power of the United States. Most investors (54%) hold that view.

First, I’m quite surprised the majority was only 88%. Second, there’s a big difference between “a new global currency,” and a new global reserve currency, but Rasmussen’s poll fudged the details.

The pollster eventually concedes, “At issue is not replacing the money in Americans’ wallets but what currency will be the world standard against which all other monies are measured.” The problem, of course, is that the respondents to the Rasmussen poll weren’t told about this, making the poll results measuring public opinion about proposals that don’t exist rather useless.

It reinforces an observation Matt Yglesias made in February: “Rasmussen is a pretty good pollster whose results are within the range of accuracy one wants from a pollster. But polling is a crowded business. And Rasmussen doesn’t also have a daily newspaper or a television network to tout his results. His business, however, requires attention. So how does he get that attention? Well in part he gets it with issue polling that, while basically methodologically sound, has question-wording that’s designed to lead to conservative-friendly results. Then the results come out and conservatives tout the results as vindicating their position. It’s free PR for Rasmussen, it’s a morale booster and message-driver for the right.”

Or, as Ali Frick put it today, “The fact that Rasmussen even polled on Bachmann’s insane legislation banning the replacement of the dollar with a fictional currency shows just how unconcerned Rasmussen is with truth, accuracy, or intellectual honesty.”