So says Daniel Webster, a Republican congressman from Florida, about the American Community Survey, the federally administered survey that is a wellspring of rigorously collected and academically useful statistical data. Unlike the Census, which is prohibited from using sampling techniques and instead has to do its best to get every American to fill out a survey form, the ACS uses a “representative, randomized sample of about three million American households” in order to get data on “demographics, habits, languages spoken, occupation, housing and various other categories.”
And the House voted to eliminate it.
Catherine Rampell’s article in the Times on the right over the ACS details the interest groups and stakeholders on the right and left that are emerging to defend the survey, which provides data at a level of specificity that no private-sector or academic data gathering can, or would, match — after all, ACS participation is mandatory.
But when you have Congressmen who at least profess not to know that a survey’s randomness is what makes it scientifically rigorous, a fairly extensive survey will be hard to defend from lawmakers who are eager to demonstrate their opposition to anything that can be portrayed as a pointlessly invasive government project.