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July 15, 2011

NPR Poll Finds That 96% (Ninety-Six Percent!) of the Public Wants Spending Cuts
NPR Reports Poll As 75% Want Tax Increases

Both findings are technically accurate, since possible answers (with different percentages of the public siding with each) offered different mixes of tax increases and spending cuts.

Of course NPR latched on to the one finding. Here's sherlock, explaining:

NPR News' Orwellian twisting of reality this morning should remind us of what Mark Twain famously said about statistics.

NPR's newsreader said something to the effect that a recent poll showed that roughly 75% of Americans favored increasing taxes to close the deficit, showing that the current Republican position on spending cuts was misguided, and would backfire on them.

I assume the reference was to yesterday's Gallup poll results, asking Americans how they wanted the deficit reduced:

Only with spending cuts- 20
Mostly with spending cuts - 30
Equally with spending cuts and tax increases - 32
Mostly with tax increases - 7
Only with tax increases - 4

Note that the sum of the last three items, which all include some reference to tax increases, plus item 2, which can be inferred to, is 74%. Of course, by the "logic" NPR uses, it would have been equally valid to report that "96% of Americans support spending cuts"! In fact the latter interpretation would have been considerably less egregious, since an actual majority favor approaches that explicitly call for spending cuts! Of course, NPR clearly contrived to leave the impression that 75% favored tax increases, versus 25% favoring spending cuts.

I sent this to the NPR Ombudsman, with the comment that I hope this blatant shilling for the Democrats' position works out well for them, because they will never get a nickel in pledge money from my household to continue their work of lying to the public.

Another fair reading is also that 50% of the public -- a majority -- supports solving the problem either entirely with spending cuts or mostly with spending cuts.

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posted by Ace at 02:00 PM

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