FISA Poll Smoking

Ah, where would conservatism be without American Solutions and their polls. They are claiming that Americans favor the Protect America Act by 3 to 1 margins. However:

Amazingly, even the first four words of the story, “in July of 2007,” are inaccurate, as the Protect America Act was actually passed in August [Hal – they’ve fixed that]. And it only gets worse after that. Not surprisingly, if you repeatedly misrepresent the state of the FISA debate, it’s possible to get randomly sampled voters to come to the conclusion you’re looking for. I think it’s telling that they seem to believe this level of deception was necessary to get the result they were looking for.

In case you’re curious how voters respond to a less blatantly biased poll, 61 percent of voters believe that “the U.S. government should have to get a warrant from a court before wiretapping the conversations U.S. citizens have with people in other countries,” while only 35 percent believe that “the government should be able to wiretap such conversations without a warrant from a court.” Similarly, 31 percent of voters believe that “Congress should give the phone companies amnesty from legal action against the companies,” while 59 percent believe that “citizens who believe their rights have been violated should be free to take legal action against those phone companies and let the courts decide the outcome.” That poll is from the ACLU, so it may be worth taking with a grain of salt, but its questions are certainly more representative than those of Gingrich’s group.

For the record, the question AS asked was, “Do you think that it is acceptable that congress left on a 12-day recess before renewing the act or should they have taken action before leaving for 12 days to make sure it did not expire?” I was just watching Penn & Teller’s interview with “Fuck You” Frank Lutz the other day and was reminded about how small changes in poll wording can produce big changes in response. I would bet that the respondents, by a 3-1 margin, have no idea what the Protect America Act is.

I’ll be honest here. I despise opinion polls. They are of purely academic interest too me. We do not live in a democracy, thank God. We live in a Constitutional Republic. Whether to pass the FISA law or not is a debate about privacy, the Constitution and the War on Terror. The opinions of the public are irrelevant.