Saturday, February 26, 2005


So, what's the point of this poll?

Sometimes we look at poll results and think, WTF?

Othertimes we look at the polls, themselves and think, WTF. This post is about the latter.

The Plain Dealer describes some of the results of yet-unpublished Gallup poll paid for by the Cleveland Foundation (the official release of the poll data is supposed to be on Feb. 28 in Akron at a meeting of the Fund for Our Economic Future):
Northeast Ohioans are far more pessimistic about the local economy's health than a year ago, and they think the region fails to create jobs and keep them here, a new poll shows.

More than one-fifth of Northeast Ohioans say the economy will be in worse shape five years from now. Across the region, only about one in 10 rates economic conditions as excellent or good.
Well, what a goddam shocker? Surely they didn't throw money away just to find the result. Similar polls have shown much the same thing for two years.

We don't know anything about the track record of the Fund for Our Economic Future, and the PD describes it as a "group of more than 60 philanthropies in nine Northeast Ohio counties working together to support economic development." Hopefully a reader will supply us with more info on this group.

But, from the PD description, it sounds like this was conducted kind of like a "push-poll," aimed at getting respondents to 1) buy into a particular way someone has framed the problem, and then 2) be forced to choose from a pre-determined list what solutions they favored.

If the story is accurate, you don't have to read between the lines to see that someone has framed the problem in such a way that it blames the lack of economic growth in the region to the absence of regional cooperation or some sort of regional approach:
The Gallup survey shows, however, that people in Northeast Ohio overwhelmingly want counties to work together to tackle economic development challenges. More than three-quarters polled said counties in the region should collaborate to create jobs, attract business, promote tourism and train workers.
This is such elementary, predictable stuff that, hell, we'd want to check the brain functions of the one-quarter who opposed collaboration. Really, is there a separatist group fighting to establish the People's Republic of Cuyahoga County?

We don't really have a horse in this race, but maybe we should. What disturbs us, however is, first, that the only real purpose of the poll seems to be to justify a particular "regionalism" agenda. The Fund for Our Economic Future seems to sparring with someone, but who the someone is ain't clear. Second, there doesn't seem to be any new, useful data in this poll. Finally, does anyone really believe the main problem with the economy in Northeast Ohio or in the entire state or nation is the lack of cooperation?


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