If I conducted a poll today asking who was the worst Supreme Court justice in history, I've no doubt the result would gel around either Antonin Scalia or Samuel Alito. If I conducted the same poll in 2012, the result might be Chief Justice Roberts.
Neither poll would prove a damn thing, but that isn't stopping Fox News from running with as a "devastating result" from a "respected polling outfit." No one is questioning Quinnipiac's polling methods, but the questions themselves are structured to yield a headline without any real useful information. Consequently, they're only valuable as grist for the holiday weekend click bait mill.
Steve Benen observes:
But before folks get too excited about the poll, it’s worth taking a closer look at the results. Indeed, it’s worth making some charts.
In this new poll, respondents were given the list of the 12 modern presidents and then asked to choose the best one. Not surprisingly, Democrats and Republicans answered the question very differently.
Here's the chart with the responses to those questions:
Here's Chart #2 with the responses to the same question, but framed to choose the worst:
Those charts lead to one conclusion:
In other words, what this poll tells us is that Republicans really love Reagan and really hate Obama.
Duh. Also, when these kinds of questions are asked the incumbent president always wins the worst category. Useless, much?
What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.
I’ll explain. On “best president,” Republicans are unified around Ronald Reagan: 66 percent pick him, with no one else getting more than 6 percent. Republicans are similarly in agreement on “worst president,” with Obama clobbering Jimmy Carter, 63 percent to 14 percent, and no one else better than 5 percent.
Democrats, however, have a competitive race for best president: Bill Clinton, at 34 percent, John Kennedy and Obama, at 18 percent. For worst president, Democrats again split between George W. Bush, at 54 percent, and Richard Nixon, at 20 percent.↓ Story continues below ↓
With Republicans united and Democrats split, the “winners” simply reflect that Republican unity, so Reagan wins “best” and Obama “worst.” That would be the case even if Obama was quite a bit more popular.
Popularity isn't the only measure of a 'best president' either, but that's far too nuanced for the likes of Fox talkers, who are rubbing their hands together in glee at the havoc their lies cause.
What gets me the most about this is that it's a useless poll distributing useless information, yet there are nearly 300 headlines from major news sources running with it as the headline. That's a whole lot of media stupid served with some lies, damn lies, and juicy statistics.
As an aside, does anyone else want to scrub that sh*t-eating grin off Ed Henry's face?