A poll for modern times

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Throw the data out and adjust for desired results

By John Pawlak

Months before the 2008 Presidential race began, I read a poll that predicted who would win the election.  At that time, no one had even formally announced their candidacy, and yet the polls raged on.  I think some guy named Paul Reubens was the leading contender. Polling once again besieged us over the months before the 2010 elections and I found myself unplugging the phone in an effort to ward them off.
Americans are constantly inundated with polls; polls on who will win, polls on who should win, polls on who would leave the country if who wins.  
The problem with polls is that they don’t address the issues that affect our daily lives.  Instead, billions of dollars are spent collecting and analyzing data on what color combination works best for a candidate’s button.
What we need is a poll for modern times, a poll for real people, one that addresses real issues.  And so I decided to design my own poll.  I queried several hundred people, applied a quintic regression, added the square root of insanity, divided by the phases of the moon and added a dash of nutmeg.  
Then I threw the data out and adjusted the results to match what I know they should be.
Here are the results of my “Poll for Modern Times.”
Q: “Do you think politicians run divisive campaigns?”  ... 50 percent said “Yes” and 50 percent said “No.”
Q: “Can you name the current U.S. vice president?” ... 35 percent said “Joe Biden,” 25 percent said “Hillary Clinton,” 40 percent said, “Wow, we have a president of vice?”
Q: “Are you satisfied with the level of math skills in this country?” ... 68 percent said “Yes” and 55 percent said “No.”
Q: “What one word sums up the biggest need in this country?” ... The most common answer was “Better Education!”
Q: “Do you think English should be our national language?” ... 33 percent said “Yes,” 18 percent said “Nunca,” and the remaining 49 percent of answers included “Nein,” “Non,” “Iie,”  “Não,” “Nuddu,” “Nae,” “Nyet,” “Ndak,” “Naagga,” and “Ji Nahi.”
Q: “Have you ever text-messaged?” ... 20 percent said “No” and 80 percent said “lol rukm?”
Q: “Do you have a high, medium or low confidence level in our government?” ... 4 percent said “High,”  11 percent said “Medium,” 19 percent said “High,” and 66 percent said “I don’t have any confidence in polls on confidence levels.”
Q: “What proactive measures should be taken to fight terrorism?” ... 12 percent said “Bomb Iran,” 4 percent said “Bomb Syria,” and 84 percent said “Bomb Washington D.C.”
Q: “How do you plan to pay for your child’s college bills?” ... 13 percent said “Get a second mortgage,” 12 percent said “Cash out my IRAs,” and 75 percent said “Keep working until I’m 165 years old.”
Q: “Is illegal immigration something that should be illegal?” ... 26 percent said “Illegal should be illegal,” 12 percent said “That depends on what the meaning of is is,” and 62 percent said “That question should be illegal.”
Q: “Should speed limits be raised on highways?” ... 10 percent said “No,” 15 percent said “Yes,” and 75 percent said “Really?  There’s a speed limit?”
Q: “How often do you use a computer?” ... 45 percent said “Every day,” 35 percent said “Once a week,” and 20 percent said “Never.  My kid won’t show me how to turn it on.”
Q: “Are you a vegetarian?” ... 60 percent said  “No,” 12 percent said “Yes” and 28 percent said “Only between meals.”
Q: “Have you ever cheated on your spouse?”  ... 35 percent said “Yes,” 25 percent said “No,” and 40 percent said “No, my wife won’t let me.”
Q: “How often do you eat fast food?” ... 12 percent said “Once a week,” 18 percent said “Twice a week,” 25 percent said “Three times a week,” and 45 percent said “Hmmff phffg mmgfff!”
Q: “What does this country need most?” ... 5 percent said “We need better health care!,” 5 percent said “We need better border security!,” 5 percent said “We need to control spending!” and 85 percent said “We need fewer polls!”

John Pawlak
Los Alamos Columnist