What’s an Opinion Poll?

By Erasmo Calzadilla

Cuban press reported that Obama’s popularity has dropped.
The Cuban press reported that Obama’s popularity has dropped. Photo: Pete Souza

Recently, US politics were once again featured in the Cuban press. The popularity of President Obama was reported to have declined considerably among Americans since his election, at least according to a survey produced by a respected public opinion firm.

I had to knock on the door of my own imagination -which at that moment was taking a bath to help me process the news-, because either I’m exceedingly absent-minded or such surveys have never been conducted here in Cuba. No one has gone door-to-door trying to find out people’s opinion about a president or any other matter – important or not.

If there are agencies in our country authorized to conduct this kind of work, neither I nor the people around me are aware of any of them.

Let us suppose that the highest political ideological leadership in Cuba has decided to do without such agencies and opinion surveys, considering them part of the machinations of phony democracy – and let’s assume that they are right.

Now, if this is the case, then the following question is fitting: How can the national press report as truth certain outcomes of such polls if these too are manipulated by class interests?

If you don’t believe in opinion surveys, okay; you don’t have to. But then don’t talk about them, much less in the official press, if it’s not to demonstrate how false they are.

But if they are going to be mentioned, and if they are recognized as a reliable sources of data, then why isn’t a similar mechanism implemented here in Cuba to find out the rank-and-file’s opinions of their leaders and on other important issues?

Wouldn’t we be more socialist this way?

I’m completely unaware of the methods through which our government weighs people’s opinions before making a decision. Do they ask “my” representatives in the National Assembly, those who almost always vote unanimously? Or maybe this is done through more secret mechanisms to mislead the enemy?

Perhaps they have certain advisers – sociologists, psychologists etc. – who are so efficient that they can extrapolate what each individual thinks without needing to ask them, in this way saving the people the nuisance of an interview?

In none of those cases are the findings of the investigations shared. Surely this is to prevent waking up passions among sectors of the masses for the game of phony democracy, or to impede the surrendering of information to Washington that could then be used against us.

Undoubtedly surveys have to be conducted and shared so that we can learn more about ourselves so that power becomes truly supported from below. This would especially foment a sense of ownership (so very absent) without which it will be impossible defend ourselves against anybody.

But if they’re not going to do it, I think it would better not to even mention the polls.

10 thoughts on “<em>What’s an Opinion Poll?</em>

  • August 17, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hola Erasmo,
    yo también pienso que las encuestas están hechas para manipular a la gente (v. la multiplicación de encuestas anterior a elecciones parlamentarias como ahora en Alemania y el cambio de resultados según los periódicos o canales que las publican); te puedo consolar que nunca me han encuestado tampoco y no tengo la menor idea de cómo y con qué objetivo se escoge a las personas;
    desde mi entender el pueblo no debería legitimar al poder participando en encuestas (a parte del problema de la representatividad); si hubiera una democracia (o un socialismo) de base de verdad las encuestas ya no harían falta; nos comunicaríamos de forma más directa, espontánea y menos buroc´ratica.

    Un beso grande desde Alemania: Martina

  • June 24, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    …and of course nobody knows that they are collecting information..these students just look like everyone else, waiting for public transportation.

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