The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 5, 2013

My View: This is a conservative nation

Al DeKruif

— A column written by Tom Martens (March 31) states with certainty that America is not conservative. Anyone that knows anything about polling and polling responses know that anyone can cherry pick certain polls or ask a question a certain way and get the answers you want.

For the letter writer to claim he is an alleged centrist, he certainly is biased toward liberals and liberal positions.

You would get the impression letter writers’ recent columns that America has put its trust in big government, free hand-outs, social liberals that put their trust in Democrats, and that Republicans are non-existent and irrelevant.

Contrary to this is the fact is that even after the 2012 elections nationwide, 26 states legislatures are controlled by Republicans and have control of the governor’s office in 31 states. In five other states Republicans control one of the other bodies of the legislatures. Sure sounds like the letter writer has things a little bit backward.

A March 30 Gallup Poll shows 47 percent disapprove of the job the president is doing compared to 46 percent approving; a March 27 poll shows only 33 percent think county is heading in the right direction; and a March 27 CBS poll shows the same 47-46 disapproval of the president. Only 35 percent approve of Obamacare; and in that recent Rasmussen poll 80 percent of American adults agree with the statement: “Work is the best solution for poverty”; and 64 percent think border security should come before legalizing the status of those here illegally.

And contrary to what the letter writer would have you believe, months after an amendment to ban the gay marriage was rejected, 53 percent of Minnesotans still oppose legalizing it according to a March 6 Star Tribune Poll. A KSTP\Survey USA a month earlier found the same thing with 54 percent opposing legalizing gay marriages in Minnesota.

The choice of words and phrases in a question is critical in expressing the meaning and intent of the question to the respondent and ensuring all respondents interpret the question the same way. Even small wording differences can substantially affect the answers people provide.

An example of a wording difference that had a significant impact on responses comes from a January 2003 Pew Research survey. When people were asked whether they would: “favor or oppose taking military action in Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule,” 68 percent said they favored military action while 25 percent said they opposed military action. However, when asked whether they would “favor or oppose taking military action in Iraq to end Saddam Hussein’s rule even if it meant that U.S. forces might suffer thousands of casualties,” responses were dramatically different; only 43 percent said they favored military action while 48 percent said they opposed it. The introduction of U.S. casualties altered the context of the question and influenced whether people favored or opposed military action in Iraq.

Cherry picking polls here and there to fit the writer’s definition works for his letter but falls short of reality. I think if you ask the average taxpayer voter three simple questions: If government spends too much, if government has grown too big, and do you think you can make better spending decisions with your money than the government, the overwhelming response would be yes.

Al DeKruif is a former District 25 state senator. He is the owner of Dekruif Enterprises and Sakatah Trail Resort. He lives in Madison Lake.