Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Lamest survey ever? Or best the GOP can come up with?

You decide.

People on the RNC's Victory 2008 mailing list were recently sent a 20-question survey concerning the 2008 election. It's a pretty wildly slanted document, with questions divided into four sections, which I include below along with selected questions from each area:

Section I - Jobs and the Economy

1. Do you think Congress should respond to the economic slowdown with a plan of tax cuts to stimulate the economy? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

2. Do you believe our economy will grow if we cut taxes and put more money in the hands of hardworking Americans who pay taxes? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

4. Which of the following factors do you feel is most adversely affecting the economy in your area? [Choices: Burdensome Taxes / Severe Government Regulations / Unstable Real Estate Market / Growth of Government Spending / Threat of Terrorism / Unpredictable Fluctuating Fuel Prices / Other]

Well, it's nice to know that, eight years later, there's still not a problem out there that the GOP doesn't claim to be able to fix with tax cuts and terror threats. It's like their very own duct tape and paper clips.

Question #2 might confuse some respondents, since (rather than putting "more money in the hands of hardworking Americans who pay taxes"--certainly a laudable goal) the GOP has spent a generation using tax cuts to put more money in the hands of trust-fund babies whose taxes have steadily declined all the while. Does this question hint at a change in policy?

And it's interesting to note that in Question #4, every possible item was paired with a modifier plucked right out of Newt Gingrich's 1990 GOPAC list of contrasting words (to be used in portraying anything liberal or Democratic)--burdensome, severe, unstable, threat, and unpredictable--except for one: Growth of Government Spending. Why would that be? It would have been easy enough to call it something like Dangerous Growth of Government Spending, or perhaps Growth of Wasteful Government Spending. Are they signaling that even "growth" itself is a devil term?

Of course, "growth" is a tricky word in the GOP lexicon; witness the Club for Growth, an organization obsessed with shrinking government regulation and oversight at every possible point.

SECTION II - National Security

1. Should the first foreign policy priority of the next President be winning the war against radical Islamic extremists? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

2. Should America surrender in Iraq regardless of the consequences in the Middle East? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

3. Do you agree with Democrats who believe national defense spending should be slashed in order to fund domestic programs? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

And so on.

Do you ever, even once, remember anyone (other than neocons and their fellow travelers) using the word "surrender" in connection with Iraq?

SECTION III - Other Issues

1. Should we appoint judges who will interpret the law instead of liberal activists who will make new laws from the bench? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

4. How do you think Congress should best address the looming Social Security crisis? [Choices: Raise the retirement age for today’s younger workers / Eliminate the current Social Security tax cap / Offer younger workers the option to put part of their Social Security tax into a personal account / Other]

6. Do you think that forcing every American into a socialized national health care system is the best way to deal with uninsured patients? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

Of course, if Bush v. Gore--which the Supreme Court itself insisted should never be used as precedent in any future cases--isn't a bit of one-off legislating from the bench (and it isn't; just ask Antonin "Get Over It" Scalia), it's hard to imagine what Question #1 is even referring to.

As for Question #4; Democrats can only hope that Republicans bring up privitization of Social Security again in the fall. (Reminder to the Obama campaign; This only works if the Republicans bring it up.)

Question #6 is so hopelessly slanted it can't even be properly ridiculed.

And finally:

SECTION IV - Campaign Strategy

1. Do you believe it is critical that our candidates stand behind a hard-charging conservative message of smaller government, lower taxes, new jobs and a strong national defense? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

2. Should the Victory 2008 program be focused on turning out the Republican vote and registering 2 million new Republican voters? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

3. Are you concerned about the vast sums of campaign funds being stockpiled by the Democrats and their liberal allies? [Choices: Yes / No / Undecided]

These three questions are the entirety of Section IV. There's not much to point out about them except that the classic sales technique is to get the customer in the habit of answering Yes before you ask them for the money.

Most of the items listed in Question #1 seem sort of irrelevant, since "lower taxes" is the only one of them that the GOP has produced in years. I suppose "hard charging" could apply, as long as we're clear that it would characterize the GOP message, and not McCain himself, who drifts farther from "hard charging" toward "circling aimlessly" with each passing month.

(Again, these are just some of the questions; for the whole enchilada, go here. Note that you won't be able to submit the survey unless you have the 8-digit key code from the RNC. Sorry, lefty pranksters. And since I couldn't submit the survey myself, I can only assume--albeit with some confidence--that the Submit button takes you directly to the page where you're asked to contribute to the RNC.)

I talked this little gem over with Doctor Beyond, who graciously passed this on to me, and it seems to us that there are really only two possibilities for its use:

A: Since it's tilted worse than a mobile home on a fault zone, its "results" can't be used for anything serious, and were never intended to do so. Therefore they will deposit the contributions immediately and later cherry-pick some scientific-sounding numbers from the results to send back to the same mailing list with the next ask.

B: They will deposit the contributions immediately and simply discard the survey responses unanalyzed, even assuming that the web page even saves the respondents' answers in the first place.

I lean toward B myself. It's the GOP equivalent of this, a bright and shiny object to distract you while they go for your wallet.

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Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Have you stopped beating your wife? I'm surprised they didn't ask that.

Nothstine said...


It wasn't a high note for social science, was it?


Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Planting ideas in people's heads; the oldest trick in the book.