No Spin Zone
You Know the Difference Between Genius and Stupidity?
By: Bernie GoldbergMarch 26, 2014

Sometimes I wonder why pollsters ask the American people about anything.  What’s the point?  I mean, would Gallup ask someone from Uzbekistan if he thinks Mickey Mantle was a better centerfielder than Willie Mays? Would the NBC/Wall Street Journal polling outfit ask the average man on the street in Kabul if he prefers Canali or Hugo Boss?  So why would a pollster ask Americans about almost anything not having to do with Dancing with the Stars?

If you think I’m channeling H.L. Mencken, who believed you’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people, give yourself a gold star.

Still, we poll Americans on just about everything — even though a lot of folks don’t know much about anything.

Take several recent Rasmussen polls.  In one, only 29 percent of likely voters said incumbent members of the House and Senate should be re-elected.  That sounds smart, given that we now have more respect for bank robbers than politicians.  Except come November, just about everybody in Congress will be re-elected – by these same people who told Rasmussen that that they wanted to kick the bums out.

This is from Politico after the 2012 elections:  “Despite rock-bottom congressional approval ratings, voters reelected their incumbents at near-banana-republic levels in 2012.”  And what were those “near banana republic levels”?  Try 90 percent.  That’s right, 9 out of 10 members of the House and Senate who sought re-election were re-elected.

So the Rasmussen poll tells us nothing because the people Rasmussen polled are either duplicitous or don’t know what the word “incumbent” means.

Then there was the question about taxes.  A whopping 69 percent of the Americans polled said the middle class pays a larger percentage in taxes than do the rich.

Here are the facts:  The top one percent pays about 37 percent of all federal income taxes and the top five percent pays almost 60 percent.

So what’s the point, I ask again, in polling people who don’t know what they’re talking about?  Are we supposed to learn something from their lack of knowledge?

And then there’s this:  despite the fact that most Americans give the president low grades on his handling of the economy; despite the fact that most Americans say they don’t like ObamaCare; despite the fact that according to Rasmussen only 29 percent of likely voters think America is heading in the right direction – despite all of that, about half (49 percent) still approve of the job Mr. Obama is doing, according to Rasmussen.  Huh?

Rush Limbaugh has a name for Americans who don’t know what’s going on.  He calls them “low information” voters.  Why in the world would a pollster ask these chuckleheads their opinions, for example, about how the president is handing the crisis in Crimea – a place many of them undoubtedly never heard of or probably think has something to do with crime.

I have long thought that dolts should not be allowed to vote.  But that’s a discussion for another time.  For now, let’s simply agree that Rasmussen, Gallup, Quinnipiac and all the others who ask low information Americans what they think about complex issues are wasting our time.

But I don’t want to leave any of you with the wrong impression. There most certainly are plenty of smart Americans out there whose opinions matter.  And I would never suggest that most Americans are stupid.  That would be rude.  So I’ll leave the last word to some guy named Albert Einstein, who once said: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

I for one have never heard of this Einstein fellow, who also said that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits.

I don’t get it — which makes me a perfect candidate to answer any questions Mr. Gallup or Mr. Rasmussen might have for me.


FEBRUARY 26, 2015  | PM Rating: A
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