Fallacies of Literalism

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"Fallacies of Literalism"

I have no doubt whatsoever that Republican pollster John McLaughlin can devise question wording that makes card-check unionization come out as unpopular, but whenever I see a result like that I always wonder why people bother. Obviously, the overwhelming majority of voters have no well-formed opinions about the Employee Free Choice Act whatsoever and even if you could get them to form an opinion on it, it almost certainly won’t be a decisive voting issue for the overwhelming majority of people.

And that’s not because of some special characteristic of EFCA, it’s just the way politics works. No real voters form opinions on hundreds of separate “issues” then score their political options according to their positions on the issues, and then decide who to vote for. If anything, the causation is likely to run in the other direction — if all the politicians you trust tell you card check will lead to tyranny, you’ll think that card check will lead to tyranny; but if the politicians you perceive as being on your side tell you card check is good, you’ll think card check is good. Nevertheless, pollsters seem to be able to gin up a surprising volume of business by doing these kind of single-issue polls.

Are people just eager to waste their money? In this case I suppose the rationale is that McLaughlin knows there are enormously wealthy interests who would very much like to invest in fighting EFCA, so if he can somehow position himself as the go-to guy for EFCA-related messaging he’ll earn himself a nice bundle of cash.

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