Politics & Public Opinion: David W. Moore on Pollsters

I noticed David W. Moore’s book The Opinion Makers. The author worked for Gallup for many years and he has great insight about the bias of pollsters and other problems of polling. This brings light to my own search for understanding public opinion. The media often does the polling and often does a horrible job at reporting on it.

Two things stood out to me in looking at various reviews of the book and other related articles.

First, the public is uninformed about many issues that pollsters ask about. People end up giving opinions about issues that they know little about and so the resulting ‘public opinion’ can be rather arbitrary.

Second, the public doesn’t care that much about many issues. There is rarely a majority of the public that both cares strongly about an issue and has a consensus about it, and so it is usually a minority that is for an issue and a minority that is against it.

These two combined create a sad picture.

The media fails in informing the public or, to be cynical, succeeds in misinforming the public. The MSM is ultimately profit-driven and those working in the MSM are trapped within the reality tunnel of corporate media and corporate government, i.e., the plutocratic status quo. The MSM doesn’t necessarily care about democracy and so it isn’t surprising that the MSM, along with the rest of the plutocratic establishment, undermines democracy. Most Americans aren’t just uninformed and misinformed, but also unengaged, disenfranchised even.

Neither pundits or politicians inspire the average American to feel like their opinion matters and that they have any power to make the world a better place. Instead, pundits and politicians portray a world that doesn’t fit what the average American believes and values. People feel isolated because they don’t realize that their opinion is actually the majority in many cases. The MSM too often offers mostly obfuscation, rather than high quality investigative reporting.