Friday, January 31, 2003

In TAP, James Fishkin has a polling technique called "deliberative polling". Without going to the details,
The idea is to find out what the public would think about political issues if it had a chance to learn about them fully and to talk about them with others -- in other words, what democracy would look like in a perfect world.

It may not be surprising that on the question of Iraq, there was a general shift to a nuanced middle instead of to either pole of the spectrum. Unfortunately the poll had to leave out an important element influencing our policy-makers.

perhaps they can force this administration to actually follow the views that Haass espoused. But a poll itself cannot overcome the voices of large corporations -- the "legal persons" that Fishkin's polls do not sample -- that stand to benefit from war, or the screams of hawks in the White House. One of Fishkin's hopes is that poll participants will go back to their hometowns and inspire others to get involved in the democratic process. With a divided nation on the brink of war, that hope has never been more important.

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