Misleading Rasmussen Poll Helps Prop Up Bogus Net Neutrality Partisan Divide
from the damn-lies-and-statistics dept
As we noted last week, the idea that net neutrality is a strictly partisan issue is a dated one, with several new studies indicating that support for net neutrality (and support for meaningful net neutrality rules) is increasingly common among members of all parties. As we’ve also noted several times, most people, when you sit them down and talk to them, understand that letting lumbering telecom duopolists write the laws, corner the market, and erect obnoxious new and arbitrary tolls, simply isn’t a very bright idea or conducive to healthy technology markets.
While a number of polls and surveys were busy deconstructing the myth of the partisan neutrality feud last week, Rasmussen Reports was busy trying to perpetuate it. The firm recently issued a new poll that breathlessly proclaimed that 61% of the public opposed net neutrality rules, while also insisting that people generally really like their cable and broadband providers:
“Most Americans have opposed increased government regulation of the Internet since December 2010 when some members of the FCC began pushing ?net neutrality? efforts to stop some companies from offering higher downloading speeds to preferred customers. Seventy-six percent (76%) of Americans who regularly go online rate the quality of their Internet service as good or excellent. Only five percent (5%) consider their service poor. Americans remain suspicious of the motives of those who want government regulation of the Internet. Sixty-eight percent (68%) are concerned that if the FCC does gain regulatory control over the Internet, it will lead to government efforts to control online content or promote a political agenda, with 44% who are Very Concerned.”
Of course if you actually bother to investigate the questions asked of survey participants, you’ll notice this amusing little ditty:
“Should the Internet remain “open” without regulation and censorship or should the Federal Communications Commission regulate the Internet like it does radio and television?”
Note that in this case the question tells the poll taker the Internet is currently “open” and that regulation will automatically change this. Amusingly, the phrase “and censorship” is just kind of thrown in there casually, as if nobody reading the poll questions could possibly ferret out that Rasmussen is being misleading. It’s effectively asking survey recipients: “Do you like government meddling — that involves punching you squarely in the face?”
The Rasmussen poll wording also goes on to more subtly rattle ye olde “all regulation is automatically evil” saber, strongly implying that real competition would be immeasurably better than consumer protections. That’s partially true — we’ve obviously argued more than a few times that net neutrality violations are just the symptom of the lack of competition disease. That said, Rasmussen intentionally ignores (or doesn’t actually understand) that Title II with forbearance is the best option available in the face of an immensely powerful broadband duopoly (or monopoly) that’s simply not getting fixed anytime soon.
Obviously this isn’t the first time Rasmussen has brought loaded questions to play. The firm’s reputation as a reliable pollster took a mammoth hit back in 2010 for repeatedly being significantly off on projections, and having what Nate Silver and Five-Thirty-Eight at the time complained was “cavalier attitude toward polling convention,” something Silver stated would “need to be refined” if the pollster was to ever be taken seriously again. Judging from their net neutrality poll, those necessary improvements may not be coming anytime soon.
That said, do you support net neutrality…when it involves getting kicked in the groin?