Everybody knows there are three kinds of liars - liars, damn liars and statistics. Well, the CBS News/New York Times poll may warrant creation of a fourth category called Making Numbers Lie.
Liberals and lefties are all atwitter today because the CBS/NYT survey produced a result that suggests Republican Gov. Scott Walker and his allies are only supported by a slim minority of the public. Here's how the Times put it:
"Americans are apparently much more favorably disposed to unions than the Republican governors and lawmakers acting in their name.
:A New York Times/CBS News poll released late Monday found substantial support for unions among those surveyed.
"In a survey of 984 people, 33 percent they viewed unions positively while 25 percent said they viewed then negatively.
"About 60 percent said they opposed efforts to restrict the collective bargaining rights of public-employee unions."
Well, I hate to shatter their joy, but it takes all of about two minutes to look at the data behind the survey to see why it produced the result it did, and why the survey is essentially worthless as an indicator of how the nation views events in Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana and other states where public employee unions are challenging efforts to make them pay a fair share of the cost of their compensation and benefits.
Essentially, the way CBS and the Times got the survey to produce the result was to over-sample union and public employee households. Only seven percent of the private sector workforce is unionized, but among the 984 people interviewed for the survey, 20 percent identified themselves and/or somebody in their household as union members.
Similarly, government employees approximately 10 percent of the national workforce, yet the survey respondents include an unrealistically high proportion of public employees, at 25 percent of the total.
Given these proportions within the respondents, it comes as no shock to find that more of them support higher taxes on everybody else in order to keep funding overly generous salary, health benefits and pensions for public employees.
You can read all of the CBS/NYTimes poll questions and results here.