"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Argumentum ad Populum Part 1

"A fallacious argument that concludes that a proposition is true because many or most people believe it: "If many believe so, it is so." 
So many out there, it will take multiple posts to hit them all. Let's start with " the wrong direction."

I have heard and read numerous times that the “ majority of American’s think that the country is headed in the wrong direction". 
Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey for the week ending August 4 showed that only 31% of likely U.S. voters think the country is heading in the right direction, up two points from a week ago and is the highest weekly finding since late January. Three weeks earlier., the number who felt the country is heading in the right direction fell to 21% .

So when did our citizens become so negative? Is this a new phenomenon? Not really. The Daily Beast has a story from 2014 that states people have long felt we were on the wrong track going back now more than 40 years. Since 2002, the range has been low 40’s to single digits for “ wrong” direction.

The negativity has had highs and lows over the decades. The low point was at the end of the George W. Bush presidency when only 7-9% thought the country was headed in the right direction. That’s 91% that thought that our country was headed in the wrong direction.
The high points? There were three years in Reagan’s presidency where 60 % of Americans thought we were on the right track. The remaining five years were all under 50%.
At the end of Clinton’s second term, there were three years of an American majority thinking we were headed in the right direction with a Gallup poll one year at 71%.

The high point came right after the 9/11 attacks when 72 percent of Americans approved of the direction our nation was heading, up from 40% the month before. 
Think the nation is polarized? Democrats favor Obama’s job performance by 85-11 percent in this month’s poll, Republicans disapprove 86-11 percent and independent voters approve 48-47 percent.

Since these polls began, the majority of Americans at most times, believed that the country is headed in the wrong direction. So when talking heads tell you that "70% of the American people ( or 65% or whatever percent you choose) believe that America is headed in the wrong direction, there needs to be the caveat that this is nothing new, at least since these polls started four decades ago. We pretty much always think we are headed in the wrong direction. 

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