Scary Survey

by Don Boudreaux on October 27, 2006

in Politics

During this season when ghouls and monsters are out a-haunting, trying to trick some of us into treating others of us, my wife, Karol, earlier this week received a telephone call from someone conducting a survey.

This person asked Karol if she is more "conservative" or "liberal."

"Are those my only two choices?" Karol asked.

"Yes."

After confirming that by "conservative" the questioner meant ‘people who want government out of your pocketbook but in your bedroom’, and that by "liberal" the questioner meant ‘people who want government in your pocketbook but not in your bedroom’ — the summaries of these positions are in Karol’s words — my wife informed the questioner that she is neither conservative nor liberal.

I don’t know how closely this survey represents political surveys in general.  But if it’s generally the practice to classify survey respondents only as conservatives or liberals — and if politicians frequently take their cues from the results of such surveys — then there’s a bias against office seekers being anything other than "conservative" or "liberal."  Those persons who distrust government meddling in their pocketbooks and in their bedrooms aren’t heard — they seem to be further out on the fringes than they really are.

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