For those who may only pay occasional attention to such matters, it should be pointed out that the polls conducted by the right-wing, Raleigh-based Civitas Institute are often laughable slanted. While the “horse race” questions about various political contests and public approval of various officials are usually fairly straightforward — at least the questions themselves, if not the people surveyed — the questions about specific issues are often blatantly rigged to produce the desired results. This is the reason you’ll never see questions from Civitas about, for instance, “school vouchers.” Better to phrase such questions with warm, fuzzy (and largely meaningless) terms like “school choice.”
The most recent Civitas poll has several such silly questions — many of which are clearly designed to get the poll respondent moving in the direction the Civitas people want. Here’s the opening salvo in the most recent poll when it comes to education: “In your opinion, who is best suited to decide where a child should attend school?”
You’ll be shocked to discover that most respondents chose option #1: the child’s parents.
Another silly question — this one about what should be done with Confederate monuments — starts this way: “As you may know, there have been numerous instances of protesting and vandalizing surrounding Confederate flags and statues around the U.S. With that in mind, do you think statues honoring leaders of the Confederacy should….”
Gee — how could an opening like that have prejudiced respondents?
Interestingly, however, sometimes even the Civitas people can’t slant their questions enough to produce the results they want. In the most recent poll, for instance, the following question was posed:
“Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Democratic Presidential candidate, recently introduced a bill commonly referred to as “Medicare for All.” Essentially, the bill would make the government the single payer of health care costs for all Americans – to be phased in over time. Do you support or oppose Senator Sanders’ proposal?”
About the only thing Civitas could have done to make this more slanted would have been to work the word “socialism” into it some point.
Here’s the funny part though: even with such a slanted question, poll respondents were evenly divided, with 45% in favor, 46% opposed and 9% unsure.
You got that? Even when they tried to sabotage the results, the Civitas people still found that almost half of North Carolinians favor national, single-payer, “socialized” health insurance system. With a less slanted question, the results would have no doubt trended even more strongly in support.
The bottom line: Conservative ideologues may be calling the shots right now in national and North Carolina politics, but when it comes to number of core issues like healthcare, the minimum wage, guns, abortion rights, privatizing public schools and taxes on the rich, public opinion still trends strongly progressive. Caring and thinking people should take heart.