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>

  • 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

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

  • Era, I know one of the mechanisms used by Cuban Government to capture public’s opinion. They use to locate CIM (Contra Inteligencia Militar) students at particular Bus Stops to gather people’s commentaries on a great variety of topics. So, they know everything.

  • Also Erasmo, i focused on comparing polls in the US because i have no knowledge of said system in Cuba, therefore i have no legit way to comment. However, as always i speak truth to empowerment and i know that whether or not Pres Obama works in favor of lifting the embargo and opening up our country CUBA will be free. This will happen without violence or bloodshed because Barak is not the only entity with power and compassion.God is still in charge.

  • Erasmo, please know that polls/surveys do sway people and this happens esp when an economy is acting poorly ie the US. Here in amerikkka polls always sway people for other reasons as well and great or small.
    Great or small do not amount to much when one has to deal with those who have the power to tweak polls in thier favor/ie when there is no food on the table, loss of employment, homes are being foreclosed, there are exorberant health care costs etc. YES! polls do matter to GREAT and smal

  • Erasmo Calzadilla
    Thanks for your article. I read it with interest.
    I am 80+. I admire those in Cuba. I am one of the little people in the US.
    I am not pessimistic about Cuba/USA relations.
    I have faith that things in both Cuba and in the USA will improve.
    I do not believe great people are swayed by opinion Polls.


  • As far as Obama popularity dropping ..LOL don’t believe the hype. This is done so that they can sell newspapers. As one who lives in DC believe me the polls validity depends upon who does it. When a survey is done with an all Cuban community in south FLA Obama popularity will drop but when you go out to the midwest and read the polls by Ras one will see the opposite. Or go to the northeast u will see the same.
    The right wing pollsters always have a select group they call and its usually white americans with big bucks. or racist Cubans who hate blacks anyways

  • What is a n opinion poll?
    An opinion poll done by some in the US like Mason Dixon, American Research grp, DCAAPOR etc are when they call people on the phone by groups(blk white span etc) get false answers, and at the end of the day take all of the answers place them in a huge bowl, throw them out of the window onto Pennsylvania ave and then go down and pick up the first one that hits the ground. Whatever is on that paper is called a fact.

  • Excellent point Erasmo. The reason the Cuban state press gets away with this sort of thing is because – apart from a few brave bloggers such as yourself – there is no media outlet that will point out this contradiction.

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