Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stupid online polls, KGW (Portland, OR) edition

There's been some unsettling talk in recent days that Oregon might be heading for something of a recession--leading economic indicators (payrolls, etc.) are down, and a group of economists from the University of Oregon apparently think there is a substantial risk to the state's economy. So, naturally, into the breach storms one of my least favorite dispensers of the local news, KGW.com, who asks its viewers to answer this highly relevant poll question:

Now, here's what I don't get: why the specificity? Why the "yes, my job would probably be at risk"? Isn't it possible to be worried about the economy even if one's job isn't at risk? I mean, I *think* my job could probably survive a not-too-nasty recession, but I still don't really relish the thought of having one. That is to say, my job would survive, but other things--the jobs of my friends, restaurants in my neighborhoods, the budget for local schools--could take a substantial hit. Why not simply write "yes, I'm concerned about the impact of a recession"?

Actually, the reason is pretty simple: the "no" answer--"I feel secure"--is much more general, and it could very well be that they wrote the poll in such a way as to generate a happy news story--more people are optimistic than pessimistic. The current results have the "no's" in the lead by about 10 points, so I could be on to something.

The disturbing implication, of course, is that they understand that people are unable to think about national politics in a way that does not intimately involve them. According to this view, the only reason you'd be concerned about a recession is if your job was threatened.

Or, it could be that I'm simply overanalyzing something that an intern wrote in about two minutes. ¡Viva blogging!