As newspaper people, we are always urged to be cautious when it comes to reporting about polls, because, as the experts will tell you, you can get people to say anything in a poll.
Well, if you needed a real life, real news example of that, look no further than today’s The Record, which contained a story finding most of the responders to a poll do not want Chris Christie’s tax cut.
Go back and read that again. This is New Jersey, where the sales tax is staggering, corporate taxes are consistently ranked near the worst in the nation, and the state bird is the property tax, but we’re supposed to believe most people, when given the choice, would say “not yet” when offered an income tax cut.
Well, let’s slow down a bit. Contrary to the headline, a “majority” do not support the Democrats’ wait-and-see perspective. Just less than half of voters do, with 43 percent saying get the hell off the beach, we have taxes to cut. According to Quinnipiac University, which conducted the poll, another 7 percent were undecided. How are you undecided about that? It’s like going to Sunset Bar and Grill, in Lincoln Park — which I am suggesting in the hopes that I can expense a trip up there in the near future — ordering a strawberry mojito, and have the bartender say, “Which would you rather pay — $7 or $9?” You don’t sit there glassy-eyed and drooling, or the bartender will realize you’ve probably had more than one and need a new bill, and will wonder why he’s offering you a choice on pricing, anyway.
So I suppose the moral, if there is one, is that you can get people to say whatever you want in a poll, just not all the people.
There was one more fun question buried in the poll, and it was a chance for responders to pick one word, unprompted, of what they thought of Christie. You can tell Steve Sweeney wasn’t polled, because “mean old bastard” and “rotten prick” weren’t on the list, but seven people did come up with “asshole,” and a whopping 185 said “bully.” Interestingly, “entertaining” didn’t make the cut. I mean, love him or hate him, you have to admit, a circus being held atop a train wreck would be easier to turn away from. At least, if you’ve been drinking your mojitos in moderation.
I’m even more irreverent on Twitter @joe_arney.