Polls Lie About Votes

In a poll last month, 848 US folk gave a median guess of 25% for “what percentage of the federal budget goes to foreign aid.” In 2009, US “bilateral foreign aid” was 0.6%. The survey’s median “appropriate percentage of the federal budget to go to foreign aid” was 10%. Polls have found similar answers for many decades. (more; HT Rob Wiblin)

Jason Kuznicki comments:

Clearly, then, it’s not enough. But just you try running on a pro-foreign aid platform. Yeah, that’s a winner.

But if the public actually believed what they said, that 10% should go to foreign aid, pro-more-foreign-aid would be a winning platform when combined with explaining how low is the current fraction. Yet politicians clearly believe otherwise, or they’d eagerly adopt such a platform. The obvious conclusion: in polls the public lies about how much foreign aid they’ll support via votes. Voters don’t want to hear about the true fraction of foreign aid, and will punish a politician who shames them by showing how little aid they give, and that they don’t want to give more.

An interesting meta conclusion: votes are not treated the same as polls. We’ll support some policies in polls that we won’t support by votes. This seems a challenge for Bryan Caplan’s view that we treat votes and polls similarly, since both have weak personal consequences re influencing the outcome.

Of course a better test here would be a poll that first informed voters of the true fraction of foreign aid, and then asked them what fraction would be appropriate. I’d bet that if a survey did this immediately after the above two survey questions, poll respondents would say they want more aid.  But without this immediate framing, I’m not sure.

GD Star Rating
loading...
Tagged as: ,
Trackback URL: