Thursday, January 22, 2015

Be careful what you ask for

Since several of my recent posts have involved complicated calculations, it seems like time for a straightforward report of percentages.  In 1993, the Americans Talk Issues Foundation sponsored a poll on political issues.  As far as I can tell, the foundation was basically one man, so he just asked what was on his mind, resulting in some interesting questions.  People were asked to rate various ideas on a scale of 0 (very unfavorable) to 100 (very favorable).  One was:

"Choose members of Congress not by elections as now but by selection in the same way as juries are chosen--thus changing the composition of Congress to represent all demographic groups and walks of life and removing the influence of money from elections"

35% were favorable (51-100), 22% were neutral (50), and 40% unfavorable (0-49)

That would definitely be a break with tradition, but it's defensible in terms of the principle of democracy.

Another was:

"Choose members of Congress not by elections as now but by auctions selecting the highest qualified bidders with the money going to the federal treasury"

19% were favorable, 19% were neutral, and 58% unfavorable.

This method of choosing rulers is totally inconsistent with the basic idea of democracy, as well as common sense, so I would have expected it to get almost no support.  But a substantial number thought it was a good idea, or at least weren't opposed.

[data from iPOLL, Roper Center for Public Opinion Research]

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