Affirmative Action Is an Example of How Polls Can Mislead

Trump administration officials are preparing to challenge admissions policies they deem to be discriminatory against white students. Unsurprisingly, analysts and commentators have dredged up old poll numbers to try to figure out how it will play politically.

The polls don’t tell a clear story. Some polls show that affirmative action is very popular. Others show that it’s not popular at all. How pollsters pose the question is a critical factor.

Based on its limited success at the ballot box and my own read of which poll questions make the most sense, my best guess is that affirmative action is fairly unpopular. But I’m troubled by a wider problem: It’s not clear that even a well-worded question would give us much insight into the politics of the issue. CONT.

Nate Cohn, New York Times