Is the Media Polling a Fast One?

May 13, 2020

In the media's mad dash to keep fear alive, it's not herd immunity they're after, it's herd mentality. In headline after headline, we see surveys about Americans desperate to keep the country locked down. But is it true? Well, as far as Scott Rasmussen is concerned, a poll is only as good as its questions. And the press, many believe, might be asking the wrong ones.

We've all seen the statistics. "If you ask people has the government gone too far in locking things down or not far enough? Very few people -- something like 23 percent in our poll -- think government officials have gone too far. Seventy-one percent say they've either not gone far enough or found about the right balance. And that leads to... 'Oh, nobody wants to end the lockdowns.' But it's always good," Scott said, "to ask questions from a different perspective."

Unlike the press's poll or others', he decided not to frame things in terms of lockdowns or limits. Turns out, that made a huge difference. When people were asked, "Should every business in America -- not the chosen few, not the essential ones -- should every business be allowed to open if they establish appropriate social distancing protocols? Sixty percent said yes. Only 26 percent said no." What does that tell us? At its core, our country isn't worried about reopening. It's worried about reopening irresponsibly.

"That just throws an entirely different flavor on the discussion," he insisted. "You know, what people are really looking for [is]... they don't want to just throw the doors open and pretend that nothing happened. We do have a serious high risk of serious contagion." They want to know that people are dealing with this responsibly. But, as Rasmussen's results show, that doesn't mean they're opposed to letting people try -- which is the narrative the media keeps feeding us.

What makes capitalism work is that it's entirely voluntary. In a free market system like ours, you can't force people to go in and buy a loaf of bread. They make their own decision as to whether they feel comfortable enough to go into your establishment. The onus is on businesses to draw in consumers and make them feel safe. That's what makes our system work. The responsibility doesn't fall on the government, it falls on the business owner.

And that's something else Scott's survey data helped debunk. He dug deeper, taking a special look at the people who said they didn't think government had gone far enough. When he asked those people, "Should every business be reopened if they adhere to these protocols?" -- they were evenly divided! Obviously, it's all in how you frame the question. If the idea's put in terms of appropriate behavior and best practices, even the most cautious Americans are willing to consider moving forward.

The bottom line is, only one out of four voters today is opposed to letting all businesses reopen in a responsible manner. That's just 25 percent. So despite the media's constant barrage of fear-mongering, the majority of Americans are quite ready to get back to life. Even in urban areas that have been hit hardest, people agree: if we can move on responsibly, great. Otherwise, the longer this goes, the more devastating it becomes.