Monday, September 12, 2005

Zogby's cognitive dissonance

Over at the Huffington Post, John Zogby posts in disbelief about the results of a new poll that has all of the president from Carter to Clinton beating George . Bush in a prospective matchup, while Bush still beats John Kerry. Zogby asks, "What am I missing here?"

It doesn't take much thought to figure it out. Past presidents have the advantage of no longer being in office. Their faults are somewhat shrouded in the mists of time. Not being in the limelight, not being the regular butt of comedian's jokes, not being blamed for current problems they can readily be viewed favorably as statesmen. Thus it's very easy to romantically assume that things would be better with the old guys than with the current officeholder. Thus Carter/Reagan/Bush Sr./Clinton have a natural advantage over G.W. Bush in such a poll.

Kerry, on the other hand, is fresh in the minds of Americans. His attributes and flaws were on display in the recent election. It stands to reason that a Kerry/Bush poll would be similar to the 2004 election results, since not much has really happened to change the relative appeal of either man.

I find it interesting that a national poll would waste it's time with irrelevant questions such as these. The cynical thought is that Zogby (a known Democratic supporter) was trying to find evidence to support a negative view of Bush. But a critical analysis of this particular line of questions shows the results to be mostly meaningless.

The comment thread on Zogby's HuffPost post was also interesting (yes, I did slog through to the end), if only to see all of the people who insist that the 2004 election was stolen and that Kerry really did win by a good margin. Not to mention the lack of critical thinking that allows one to respond to Zogby's question (about a poll taken in the summer of 2005) with accusations of stolen elections. What does one have to do with the other? I can't say I'm surprised - you can find the same kind of sentiment in comment threads on DU or Kos (and similarly partisan blinded comments on right wing sites as well).

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