According to the firm’s statement of question wording, these were the first four questions Rasmussen asked in the poll:
1: How closely have you followed news reports about the Wisconsin governor’s effort to limit collective bargaining rights for most state employees?2: Does the average public employee in your state earn more than the average private sector worker in your state, less than the average private sector worker in your state, or do they earn about the same amount?3: Should teachers, firemen and policemen be allowed to go on strike?4: In the dispute between the governor and the union workers, do you agree more with the governor or the union for teachers and other state employees?There is nothing wrong with the first question, which simply asks people whether they have been following events in Madison. But the second and third questions are arguably problematic.
You think, Nate?
Naturally the poll finds a 48%-38% plurality in favor of Walker. Nate goes on to explain that the third question is especially thorny because in a great many states, police and firefighters are not allowed to strike, and in the case of Walker's proposal, they are also exempt from the collective bargaining limitations that would be imposed on teachers.
As far as the second question goes, well:
In fact, according to an analysis by USA Today, state employees earn about 5 percent less than comparable employees in the private sector, on average, although federal employees receive significantly (20 percent) more.
Naturally, the Rasmussen survey participants got that wrong too.
Thirty-six percent (36%) of all voters say that in their state the average public employee earns more than the average private sector worker. Twenty-one percent (21%) say the government employee earns less, while 20% think their pay is about the same. Twenty-three percent (23%) are not sure.
It's not quite "So how long have you been beating your wife, anyway?" on the loaded question scale, but Rasmussen was definitely putting their thumb on the scale. Nate's advice:
Because of the problems with question design, my advice would be simply to disregard the Rasmussen Reports poll, and to view their work with extreme skepticism going forward.
Little chance of that. Meanwhile, there's word that Wisconsin Republicans are withering under the harsh spotlights.
The proposal, written by Sen. Dale Schultz and first floated in the Republican caucus early last week, calls for most collective bargaining rights of public-employee unions to be eliminated—per Mr. Walker's bill—but then reinstated in 2013, said Mr. Schultz's chief of staff Todd Allbaugh.
"Dale is committed to find a way to preserve collective bargaining in the future," said Mr. Allbaugh in a telephone interview.
Maybe the fact that people are taking a closer look at what's really in Scott Walker's budget has something to do with it.