What Pollsters Ask vs. What Respondents Hear

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Do people really care about all the nano-controversies that constantly bubble up out of the politico-quantum vacuum and then disappear just as quickly? Dave Weigel points to the following poll question as evidence about the number of people who have an opinion about Obama’s “hot mic” incident:

That’s impressive! Apparently 96% of America has an opinion about this. The problem is that although the question above is the one that was presented to people, here’s what I think they mostly heard:

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah President Obama blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah Troubling or Not?

So if you’re not an Obamanaut, you find his conduct troubling — whatever it is. But if you’re a fan, it’s no big deal. I suspect this dynamic accounts for the routinely implausible number of people in polls who claim to have heard of, or care about, some particular incident that we all know perfectly well most people know nothing about. Ditto for obscure policy issues. Everyone wants to have an opinion, even if they have no idea what they’re supposed to have an opinion about.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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