May 23, 2022 at 15:32 #3836HankKeymaster
So we’re pretty deep into the process now of trying to figure out how to measure a target population’s baseline attitudes toward collaboration and:
- It’s more difficult than we thought. This is actually a good thing, because if it were easy it wouldn’t be something in need of figuring out, so whatever we learn will be “value-add.” But it is, indeed, not a “lay-up.”
- We’ve uncovered a very perplexing paradox and are really wrestling with what it means.
The paradox: So the objective here is to develop a method of using social media messaging to influence attitudes in favor of at least trying to work with opponents. That, of course, presupposes that meaningful portions of the population are not already sufficiently predisposed toward collaboration. But, of course, that is not an extreme assumption, right? If we look at the gridlock in Congress, the polarized conversation in opinion media, the combative tenor of conversation in online media, all of this evidences a predisposition toward opposing opponents, rather than tenaciously seeking methods of working with them.
OK, so if we presuppose that meaningful portions of the population are, in simplistic terms, “pro-oppose” vs “pro-compromise,” then we can imagine that if we asked that population which of the two extremes they lean toward, we should see a distribution of views, right? For instance, if we gave them a five point scale, with “work hard to overcome opponents” on one extreme and “work hard to find compromise with opponents” on the other, and asked them where on that scale lay the key to progress, one would expect a fair distribution of responses along the scale. There might be a moderate skew to one end or the other, or even to the middle of the scale, but there should be meaningful responses along the full range, right?
We asked nearly that exact question, and three other variations of it. We asked it across four different geographic areas in four different states (WI, OK, SD & CA), urban and rural, across all three ideological leanings (red, blue and centrist). And no matter how we asked it or who we asked it of, the answer came back the same, with an EXTREME skew.
Over 90% of respondents want compromise, and most of those responses were of the “5 on a 5 point scale,” variety. Less than 10% want to focus on overcoming.
No matter how we ask this question, that’s how it comes back. Every time.
So, that alone was really surprising. I mean, there are many possible explanations:
- It could be we still haven’t asked the right question.
- It could be the general online audience we’re polling is skewed.
- It could be the manner we’re using to attract poll takers results in a skew.
- It could be respondents do hold this sentiment, in abstract, but when the moment of truth comes for them to “pull the voting lever,” they act differently than they say they feel.
- It could be that people are pro-compromise in abstract, but when confronted with a specific issue, they become intransigent.
- It could be voters believe this, but are not presented with candidates who advocate the same sentiment, so they choose from what’s available.
Do not know the answers to these questions yet. There is, indeed, already some research on this topic — specifically reasons 4 and 5 above — we’ve read a bunch of it. But when you read it in abstract and then you are confronted with it “up-close” in your own data; it takes on new meaning.
To illustrate, let me share with you a graphic representation of what we found in just one of the four ways we tried to ask this question. Note: This result was the _least_ skewed toward compromise of the four questions we asked.
“Should our politicians:
A) FIGHT harder to overcome the other party, or
B) SEARCH harder to find mutual solutions with them?”
And we gave them the following five options:
- Fight MUCH harder to overcome other party.
- Fight somewhat harder.
- Keep doing what they’re doing.
- Search somewhat harder for mutual solutions with other party.
- Search MUCH harder.
Here was the result:
Again, this was the least skewed result, of the four questions we asked.
So, anyway, we’ve gotta figure this out. If anyone has any thoughts, we’re “all ears.”
But while we’ve got this chart up here, note one other interesting thing. No one. NO ONE supports the status quo. This was true across all four ways we asked the question. In all our polling, across all ideologies in all four states, we did not receive a single vote for the status quo. Not one.
So, there, at least, is some comfort that a problem does indeed seem to exist to be solved.
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