Polls With Agendas: Don’t Trust Every Poll


Recently the Center for American Progress conducted a so-called bipartisan poll on whether the public thinks it is a good idea to transfer public lands to state control. The following are Carl Graham’s thoughts on this issue.

This is a silly poll designed by a left wing advocacy group and conducted by a Democratic polling firm to support a specific outcome by asking one-sided questions of very few people. If either the Center for American Progress or the polling company were capable of being embarrassed, there would be enough red on their faces to win a Raggedy Ann contest. But as their purpose was simply to advance a point of view, I’m sure they consider their effort a success.

Just look at the—again all I can come up with is silly—question they asked of their likely statistically insignificant (the release I saw had no internals or margins of error, but 200 responses per state is about a third what is normally considered significant) polling respondents.

“Thinking about one idea related to national forests, national parks, wildlife refuges, and other national public lands in your state, would you support or oppose having your state Government and taxpayers assume full control of managing these public lands, including paying for all related costs, including the cost of preventing and fighting wildfires?”

Where to start? First, nobody is talking about turning national parks over to the states. The same goes for wilderness areas and properly designated monuments. So it’s a bogus question right out of the gate, asking about something that nobody is advocating.

Next, it lists all of the costs but none of the benefits of transferring multiple-use lands to state control. That’s a little on-sided, don’t you think? What about the economic benefits of actually using multiple use lands in multiple ways? What about the revenues that can come off those lands, even as they’re managed for balanced uses like recreation and aesthetics for long-term conservation? What about the likelihood of removing the enormous overhead costs of federal management that result for federal regulations, rules and overhead? An honest poll would frame the question in a way so that people can provide an informed response, not lead them down a trail to a desired response by only highlighting one aspect of the question.

I actually think this is a good outcome. If they were able to transparently load a “poll” this heavily and still barely get a majority, just imagine what will happen when people actually get to know the facts – as they will – about the benefits of allowing those closest to the land and with the most at stake in its conservation and balanced use to manage it. That’s why they’re doing deceptive research and lying about our intentions. They know they lose on the facts.

by Carl Graham

Carl is a supporter of the transfer of public lands and is very well-informed on the subject. Read more about him here: http://sutherlandinstitute.org/about/our-staff/

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