McLaughlin’s Common Core Poll Was Propaganda, Not News: Why didn’t the Media Say So?
By Judi Caler
During the first week in May, the media reported the results of a poll conducted by Republican pollster John McLaughlin. The poll identified Republican primary voters and “swing” or undecided voters. An initial basic question (#9) seeking voter views on Common Core generated a mixed reaction to the Common Core standards (35% approval; 33% disapproval; 32% don’t know). McLaughlin claimed support soared to a two-thirds majority for Common Core when it was explained in “simple, neutral” language; previously uninformed voters end up supporting the standards.
The Collaborative for Student Success was identified as the organization that commissioned and funded the poll. Since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is listed as a partner in this organization and has invested hundreds of millions of tax-exempt dollars promoting Common Core across the U.S., one wonders why the media didn’t analyze the poll for objectivity, instead of reporting its results as news.
The question that generated the two-thirds figure was the following (#12): “Common Core is a set of standards in Math and English which state what a child should know in both subjects by the end of each grade of school they complete…Knowing this, do you approve or disapprove of the Common Core State Standards?” The question incorporated a generic definition of “learning standards;” the definition was not specific to Common Core. Yet, thinking they had new information, voters almost doubled their approval of Common Core. Careful reporters would have been able to tell us that this poll is more about how to use trick questions to sway poll findings than voters’ opinion of Common Core.
Twenty-one hypothetical questions incorporating mostly misleading information were asked in an attempt to raise the approval rating for Common Core. Over 70% of these questions were prefaced with: “If you knew the following statements about Common Core Standards were true, would (you be) more likely or less likely to support (the standards)?” Most of the statements were irrelevant, the opinion of sources paid to promote Common Core (for example, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute), and/or false (for example, that Common Core’s standards were rigorous and internationally benchmarked, or that the project was state-led). One wonders if the questions were designed to find out what false talking points would be the most useful to propagate in the future as well as to inflate the approval rating on the poll. http://mclaughlinonline.com/pols/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/NATL-CSS-TOPLINE-4-14-14.pdf
Later questions asked voters to choose whether they now approve or disapprove of Common Core (#34) and whether they are now more or less likely to vote for a candidate who supports Common Core (#35). “Now” apparently means after assimilating promotional, misleading, or false information!
McLaughlin had a very political message to offer Republican candidates, who have been the most vocal against Common Core. He suggested that they steer clear of anti-Common Core remarks in seeking election or risk losing Republican and swing voters.
However, McLaughlin could have offered a very different message based on his poll results. Figures were reversed on the three questions with true information about Common Core regarding data mining (#33), teaching to the test (# 25), and the special interests that bribed the states to accept Common Core (#28). These questions averaged 58% against and 29% pro Common Core. On misleading questions, the numbers were 58% pro and 27% against Common Core.
He could easily have concluded that when TRUE information is given to voters, they are more likely to be AGAINST Common Core. In fact, this is exactly what a similar and more recent University of Connecticut poll found using straightforward questions. The more people knew about the standards, the less likely they were to support Common Core.
Interestingly, in a real election held on April 22, 2014, one week after the poll was conducted and before McLaughin’s results were released, businessman Curt Clawson, a candidate in Florida’s 19th Congressional District Republican primary where Common Core was an issue scored a decisive victory in a field of four Republican candidates. He was the most vocal candidate against Common Core and is expected to win in the general election. His main rival was Senate Majority Leader Lizbeth Benacquisto, the choice of GOP establishment/Common Core proponent Jeb Bush.
The media missed the elephant in the room: that the groundswell of spontaneous grassroots resistance all over the country is educating the public to the truth about Common Core. What the media is now missing is that this groundswell has motivated people and/or organizations with vested interests in Common Core to attempt to silence Republican candidates speaking out against Common Core by using survey research to manipulate, not inform.