Trolling with polling should raise accuracy concerns, not eyebrows

by Sean Campbell

Earlier this week, Public Policy Polling (PPP) released the results of a poll that seemed to be aimed at measuring feelings on war, Muslim immigration, and political party affiliation. At number 38 of the 41 question poll ( 38 of 38 if you don’t count demographic questions), people polled were asked, “Would you support or oppose bombing Agrabah?” This question was preceded by “Looking back, do you support or oppose the policy of Japanese Internment during World War II?”

For the uninitiated, Agrabah is the fictional country from Disney’s 1992 animated film, Aladdin. It was the most successful film of 1992, earning over half a billion dollars worldwide and was later turned into a Broadway musical in 2014.

On its face, this question seems to be getting at whether or not people would support bombing a country they’ve never heard of simply because it has an Arabic name. The assumption here is that the person being polled wouldn’t immediately relate Agrabah with the “Diamond in the ruff” Aladdin and his jokester Genie voiced by Robin Williams.

But what if the person being surveyed was in on the joke?

If I was asked 36 questions by automated “IVR Technology“, and then asked to think back to WWII, a war that was finished almost five decades before I was born, I might be in a joking and/or agitated state of mind. If the automaton had asked me to bomb a memory from my childhood, who knows, I might have said yes.

What I’m getting at here is that question, and the order it was asked, was inherently biased and therefore inaccurate at measuring anything. The question seems geared towards baiting hard-line GOP voters into bombing a fictional nationality for the purposes of generating liberal click-bait.

We already know that ultra-conservatives are more likely to support Donald Trump and war against majority Muslim countries. We don’t need a trickster poll to tell us that, especially when it seems designed to skew in the direction of absurdity.

The Guardian (and other media organizations) exercised poor judgement and possibly poor integrity when they reported “Poll: 30% of GOP voters support bombing Agrabah, the city from Aladdin.”

By characterizing GOP voters and, by extension, Trump supporters as idiotic war fanatics, press like this just drive a deeper wedge between the polarized factions of America, rather than report the news.

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