Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tysons Tomorrow - Just Another Pressure Group

I had an email exchange with Erin Fuller, Executive Director of Tysons Tomorrow and Vice President of The Coulter Cos. It turns out that my cynicism regarding Tysons Tomorrow was a bit excessive. I mistook signs of a startup operation (e.g., a survey referring to a nonexistent website) for something sinister. It is just another pressure group willing to do anything legal to get its way. So, it will spin (i.e., distort) facts and produce bogus statistics in addition to mundane organizational activities. So, a "key finding" of its survey is that "86% of respondents support extending rail to Dulles airport, including four stops in the Tyson’s Corner area." In an earlier post, I noted that this question was meaningless as phrased, given its lack of context. Sure, if extending rail to Dulles Airport via Tysons Corner were free, I'd support it. But it's not free, so I can't make a judgment without knowing the costs.

Still, I stand by my verdict that push polling should end - it's destroying legitimate surveys. It's really a kind of Prisoners' Dilemma problem. We all would be better off if push polling ended. However, it is against the interest of any individual push pollster to cease. So, we will be stuck with them until the survey business crashes. :-(

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