Are Issue Polls 'Next To Useless'?

As Texas Tech University professor Alan Reifman points out, those results mean 56 percent of Americans 'favor either the House-passed version of health care reform or something further to the left.'

Written by: Jessica Behnham

Last week, Time columnist Joe Klein had seen one issue poll too many.

"Polling on issues is next to useless," he blogged, "especially on issues as emotionally complicated as wars and as technically complicated as health care reform." Surprisingly, many pollsters, including yours truly, see some merit in Klein's argument about the way the news media typically report poll questions on public policy issues, even if we might not be ready to cast away such polls altogether.

Let's start with where we agree. Klein was talking about two new survey questions, one from CNN and the Opinion Research Corp. showing plurality opposition (49 percent to 46 percent) to the health care bill just passed by the House, and another from ABC News and the Washington Post showing a majority (52 percent) concluding that the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting.

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