Some comments on surveys and polls

Bill Taylor

It seems to me that some business activities haven’t suffered the downturn as have so many others.

Of course, the face mask and rubber glove enterprises have greatly prospered as the demand for these items has mushroomed, but I was thinking more of the kind of activities we usually encounter regardless of the overpowering presence of the coronavirus. In particular, we are contending with a plethora (that’s a neat five dollar word meaning an abundance, glut, or overflow) of polls or surveys especially on political subjects.

We get a daily dose of the results of multiple samplings conducted by various organizations with the results supposedly reflecting opinions, beliefs, or attitudes of not only those who are questioned, but of a wider population such as a state or region of the country. So I decided to share some comments on surveys and polls.

I must be on some list of persons likely to respond to these canvasses because I sure get them frequently — usually when I’m busy preparing our evening meal. I guess that’s what prompted me to conduct a sort of poll of my own by asking just two questions of a small group of folks.

First, “Have you ever been contacted to participate in a poll involving politics or similar subjects?” Sixty percent had not. Of those who had been contacted I asked, “Do you think the questions were designed to result in some particular conclusion(s) such as the approval or disapproval of some individual or issue?” This resulted in a 50/50 split.


Well, I’m not an experienced pollster, but I figure I could come up with some opinion-type questions that folks might be interested in pondering but which would not appear on any professional survey. One difference with most pollsters, however, is that the responses are limited to “agree,” “somewhat agree,” “somewhat disagree,” and “disagree.”

“No opinion” is not permitted.

OK let’s get started. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has announced major eligibility changes intended to “encourage diversity and equitable representation on screen and off, addressing gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, and disability.”

Quotas in either numbers or percentages for under-represented groups such as women, and people of color, are established to ensure this diversity. Do you agree or disagree that these factors should be included in choosing the winner of an Academy Award — also known as an Oscar?


The news media is increasingly citing “anonymous” sources in stories accusing or alleging wrongdoing or improper behavior on the part of some individuals. Do you agree or disagree that persons thus accused have the right to know if the accuser(s) even exist and to have the opportunity to confront the accuser(s) in an effort to refute the charges?


A major figure in the Black Lives Matter movement recently characterized the large scale looting along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district as “reparations.” He is quoted as saying, “I don’t care if somebody decides to loot a Gucci or a Macy’s or a Nike … That is reparations. Anything they want to take, take it because these businesses have insurance. They’re going to get their money back. My people aren’t getting anything.” Do you agree or disagree with this idea?

OK, one more — and this one is for the military community hereabouts of which we have plenty of active, retired, guard, reserve, former members, plus their families. For more than 100 years the Stars and Stripes newspaper has been an American military newspaper reporting on matters concerning the members of the United States Armed Forces. It operates from inside the Department of Defense (DoD) but is editorially separate from it. It publishes four daily print editions for the military service members serving overseas plus free downloads in electronic format and seven digital editions. The newspaper is subsidized by a little more than $15 million a year by the DoD — which represents approximately half the publication’s budget and roughly 0.002 percent of the DoD budget.

The Pentagon has now announced the Stars and Stripes will cease publishing this month, the organization disbanded, and its funding and other resources redistributed elsewhere within the DoD. Do you agree or disagree with this move?

Well, this little survey won’t change anything because the results aren’t going anywhere. Nope, no reporting, compiling, or distributing the answers. On the other hand, it may cause some folks to think about the issues raised by the questions.

At least that’s how it seems to me.

Bill Taylor

Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at

Bill Taylor, a regular contributing columnist and local area resident, may be contacted at