Senate survey of Alaskans is almost a meaningless exercise

The Alaska Senate Majority is again running an online questionnaire in which people can respond to multiple choice questions about the gas line, the Permanent Fund, etc.

It's not a poll. It's not a survey. It's not scientific. It's not reliable. It's political. It means whatever you want it to mean.

This is not a reliable way to sample public opinion. The results may or may not be cited by the members of the Senate Majority to back up what they already believe.

Richard Mauer of KTUU had a good story on the weaknesses in this approach the other day, showing that anyone who portrays the results as an accurate snapshot of public opinion would be making a mistake.

The poll last year, the results of which are not publicized by the Senate Majority, had 54.6 percent of respondents backing an income tax, up from 48.2 in 2016. The "Non-Scientific Survey Caution" on the front page could also be a warning to  "Pay no attention to these results."

The Senate claims that duplicate answers are eliminated, but there are easy ways to get around that one and submit multiple responses, which I'm sure is a major factor in shaping the final product.

The biggest omission is that the majority is not asking about an income tax this year. I tend to agree with the author of a letter to the editor from Fairbanks who says this is to avoid showing any support for an income tax among Alaskans, which is in keeping with the Senate opposition to an income tax.

Dermot Cole3 Comments