Polling Puzzle

We get regular phone calls at home from pollsters. Perhaps it’s because I’m more inclined than others to participate that we are “randomly selected” so often, but in any case I appreciate the opportunity to add my generally outlier opinions to the mix.

Frequently the poll is on a specific topic: bank services, advertising recognition, radio listening habits, and so on. Occasionally, like today, the questions cover a range of subjects: how do I feel about the economy, do I think it will be better or worse in six months, what social networking sites do I use and how often, where do I get my news coverage, how would I rate the leaders of Canada’s political parties? With a little imagination one can connect the dots, perhaps even make an educated guess about the party that commissioned the poll.

But then, out of left field came a series of questions on the performance of President Obama. Like many Canadians, I saw the election of Obama as a hopeful sign that our neighbours to the south had finally regained their senses. Here was a bright, articulate leader who was going to set right the wrongs of eight years of Bush administration. Now, as the United States approaches the next election, it is hard not to be disappointed in the scant progress that has been made. My answers to the poll reflected that sentiment.

But it leaves me wondering: what does a Canadian opinion on the performance of the U.S. president reveal and who wants to know?