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Jon Fleischman

Left-Of-Center Groups Sponsor “Deliberative Poll” — Garbage In, Garbage Out

Ever heard of a deliberative poll?  Apparently this is where you bring together some random group of people and give them an informational download and then garner their now-informed opinions.  California Forward, New America Foundation, California Common Cause and a group of other left-of-center organizations are bringing together such a group of 300 randomly selected Californians to participate in such a process in about a week, for such a poll that is scheduled to take place over a three day period.  The problem, of course, is that normal people — you know, from the real world, don’t spend three-day weekends as human equivalents of laboratory rats.  So it leaves you to wonder who actually is participating in this bizarre sociology experiment.

The New America Foundation first got on my radar screen in a big way as they weighed in to bolster efforts by former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez to significantly expand state government’s role in health care in California, making the case over and over (and over) that the substantial costs (increased taxes) of such an endeavor are offset by reducing the massive “hidden tax” that burdens us all as we pay for the health care costs of California’s uninsured.

Common Cause is the group that goes to Def Con One anytime someone suggests that perhaps you should have to show a photo ID when you vote (Common Cause calls that “voter suppression”).

California Forward is the group obsessed with the idea that the problems with California government are structural, and ignores the obvious possibility that decades of liberal ideologues controlling the legislature are the actual problem.  (For example, they want a budget adopted every two years.  That’s not a big improvement if you have a bunch of liberal legislators approving a two year budget that is just as bad as two one-year budgets).

From time to time, I get contacted by public opinion research firms who want me to spend like 90 minutes hearing some sort of product pitch.  Usually they are quite overt that for my trouble, I would get a couple hundred bucks in compensation.  I’m trying to figure out the right multiplier to figure out how much one offers to compensate someone who is willing to give up their entire weekend.  It’s a big number.  But that’s okay, I failed to mention that one of the groups sponsoring the “deliberative poll” weekend extravaganza is the Nicholas Berggruen Institute.  Berggruen is a billionaire a couple times over.

Curiously, when you research Berggruen online, the most mentioned factoid about him is that apparently other than his jet and his art collection, he has ditched his personal belongings (most notably he owns no home).  I guess Berrgruen is the wealthiest homeless person in the world…

One only need review the advisory committee for the umbrella organization, What’s Next California, sponsoring this weekend shindig  to see that, at least to my eye, there is not a conservative in the bunch (with a shout out to a few of my moderate Republican friends on this list).  This isn’t really a shocker, I suppose.

It’s likely that no one on this unbiased advisory board said a word when it was floated that Judy Woodruff of PBS television fame would be billed as the special guest for the weekend.  Or more significantly that a documentary of this event would be filmed for PBS.  I wonder if any thought went into the fact that the Republican Congress recently put forward a budget that calls for an end of public funding for the television stations like PBS?  Oh well, another deterrent to normal Californians — not just laboratory rats, but rats on television!

Deliberative poll participants will be briefed on various subject areas by panelists as they become “quick experts” on California and its issues.   On the panel for state and local reform I see a liberal Democrat State Senator and a union boss, but no conservatives.  Oh, there is a liberal Republican County Supervisor who is spending all of his time these days lobbying Republicans to support the largest tax increase in California history…  The only conservative that I have eyeballed on any of their panels is former Senator Jim Brulte on a panel on the Initiative Process and Representation.   But fear not, he will have to try to talk through the noise of the President of Common Cause and a lefty Dean from U.C. Berkeley, also on his panel.

So, to recap.  We have a survey that involves such a lengthy period of time (and travel) from its participants that getting an effective sampling of average Californians seems impossible.  Add to this that participants presumably have to be willing to videotaped so they can appear in a televised broadcast on PBS. The event itself is being sponsored by left of center groups.  The “unbiased” briefings of participants will be from hard-left, center left and moderate panelists (Brulte excepted).

One is reminded of the phrase made famous by someone in the computing field: garbage in, garbage out.

No doubt this confab, which is being held at a Marriott Hotel in the South Bay of Los Angeles County, will have a silver lining.  The liberal panelists and sponsors will be able to go walk a precinct for Janice Hahn’s campaign for Congress.  (Note to Garry South, get some volunteer recruiters over to this event!)

One Response to “Left-Of-Center Groups Sponsor “Deliberative Poll” — Garbage In, Garbage Out”

  1. Ernie Konnyu Says:

    Don’t be a luddite Jon! After all, conservatives can have a “deliberative poll” or ten if that would help our cause.

    If you are worried about how the deliberative poll results will be used by the libs, well, by identifying that the poll was “deliberative” the claimed results would be automatically tainted by the disclosed prepoll “education” quality. So, if Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda are doing the educating the poll is one thing. If it is Newt Gingrich and Sarah Palin than the poll is another.

    Yep! A “deliberative poll” is just another tool that anyone can use for whatever designated purpose they choose provided that they know what they are doing.