I’m Alright; You’re 50/50

“Reuters/Ipsos, which tracked confidence in major institutions every couple of months after the 2016 presidential election, found in late January that 52 percent of Americans had a ‘great deal’ or ‘some’ confidence in the new president’s executive branch. That dropped to 51 percent in the May survey and to 48 percent in the latest poll. Trump took office in January.”

—Chris Kahn, “The press, branded the ‘enemy’ by Trump, increasingly trusted by the public: Reuters/Ipsos poll.” Reuters. October 3, 2017.

I find myself wondering: 

  1. Are the populations of an online poll conducted over three periods comparable?
  2. Do polls of this sort represent “Americans”?
  3. If you compare two polls, each with an “credibility interval” of two percent, and the data point is a four percent difference, is this meaningful?

And the answer is “No,” on all counts. It’s junk like this that confirms the biases of one echo chamber and crying of “fake news” by another. 

Personally, I cannot help wonder why confidence in U.S. public institutions are as high as half the polled population has some confidence in our major institutions. I’d be more interested to learn why. Congress is dysfunctional. The Presidency and the federal government as a whole has too much power. The court system is filled with ideologues that seem more interested in theories of law and supporting elites than justice. 

The only thing one should be confident of is the whole edifice will limp along until, one day, it collapses in a heap.

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