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I'm part of the Gallup Poll's panel. I'm one of thousands polled regularly. They poll me twice a month for a total of about 30 minutes. The only thing I do to "game" the system is that I self identify as a "moderate".

Yeah, ok, so stop laughing and pick yourself up off the floor. (That goes for you too, Mr. Wolverton!)

I participated in the 2010 Year in Review Survey. I feel it's important that I participate in Gallup's surveys, because people like me (ok, I'm a bleeding heart liberal) are woefully underrepresented.  

It's difficult to see the socioeconomic striations of any of Gallup's panels, because they don't usually ask about your income or ethnicity unless it directly pertains to the current survey. I participate via internet and occasionally they call me. They poll cell phone households and attempt to be inclusive, but the reality is that it's doubtful that Gallup gets a accurately representative sample of the U.S. population. Gallup has a conservative and higher income bias and they don't adjust for it.

I sift through health care stats and patient survey results as part of my job. It fascinates me on how Gallup phrases their questions and answers to box in responses. During one particularly irksome Gallup survey I got to thinking What if?

What fun I'd have mucking up a up a Gallup Survey

Instead of asking:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling his job as president?
Don't Know

I'd ask:

Do you ever wish you voted for John McCain?

I'd further box in the replies with:
Not Really
Hell, No
Don't Know/Doesn't Apply

Now, the answers to this question would give the likes of Chuck Todd something to talk about. They'd be stuck zeroing in on the differences between "Hell, No" and "Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!" instead of the usual claptrap.

Instead of asking:

Did you happen to vote in the mid-term elections in November 2010, or not?

I'd change it to:

Do you really believe what Republicans say they are going to do on the campaign trail?

Pfffftt! Snort, cough, wheeze Wha, What? People do that?
Oh, yeah, um, Sure! wink, wink
That's not the point!
Hell, No
Bwaaahahahahahaha! Ok, that's a good, No
Don't know

Think how interesting a conversation John King could have picking apart these responses? We'd find out if there really is life on John King, USA; are his guests real or plastic? They would be forced to really focus on Republican credibility, that is if they covered the story at all.

Instead of asking:

All things considered, how satisfied are you with your life as a whole these days?

hmmm. strangely enough, I'd leave this question alone, but I'd change the responses from the usual vanilla to:

I'm good
I'm good, but sucks for them
I have good days and bad days
hanging in there, things will get better
It sucks, actually, but I try to not think about it
kill me now

Conan, Leno, Letterman and Lopez would have something to work with. Oh, man, what could Stewert or Colbert do with this?

Instead of asking:

Who do you trust the most for reliable information on the economy? jobs? housing?

other _____________________

I'd ask:

How do you find out (for sure) if what you see or read in the news or hear from reporters, friends and family is true?

People do that?
I have to fact check? Why?
Check to see if more than one network or newspaper is saying the same thing
Check out Media Matters, Crooks & Liars, Smoking Gun, dkos (blogs)
Send it into Politifact or
Go to the library and check out government reports, peer reviewed periodicals
Don't know

Imagine what Barbara Walters would do with the responses to this question on The View. The response of their resident wing nut would be hilarious. It would be Palinesque. I bet "don't know" could go off the charts.

Back to Reality

Yeah, yeah that would be fun, maybe the fantasy is better than the reality.

2010's Gallup Panel Year In Review Survey has an obvious Gallup bias to control the results. Like most Gallup surveys, this one asks about Obama approval and then moved onto well being and finance. Do I think my finances will get better, stay the same or get worse? It asked about housing and jobs. Am I in danger of being laid off? Could I lose my house? Is buying a house a good investment? Who's hiring? Where do I get my information from? (Heh, I had to check "other" on that).

Gallup Health Care Questions

On health care, it was almost as if Gallup was trying to reproduce (or refute) the CDC's and Keiser's (pdf warning) results that were published last September. Gallup wanted to know if I was insured (right now? That would certainly differ with the CDC figures). What is the quality of my health care? (That would be a red herring. Our quality is good enough to excellent, it's the access barriers that are the issue.) Did I or anyone in my family put off treatment anytime in the last year?  Am I concerned about paying for my health care in terms of premiums and out-of-pocket costs? (On these 2, they are looking to confirm or refute Keiser. Gallups selection methods will get a lower result than Keiser's 54%). Am I concerned that my insurance policy will cut benefits? Then, they threw in a curve ball, am I concerned about amount of time it takes to get an appointment with a health care provider?

Well, the results of this poll will be published in January and I suspect we'll see some angsting on the part of the media wondering what the numbers mean. It means that this has been a difficult year for many of us, but we're hoping and working for a better 2011.

Originally posted to JDWolverton on Sun Dec 19, 2010 at 07:44 AM PST.


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