Poorly Designed Poll Leads to Skewed Results

According to a recent Quinnipiac Poll, 80 percent of New Yorkers support increasing the state’s minimum wage to $8.75 from $7.25. It’s a result policymakers should take with a grain of salt.

Polls like this one bank on emotion and ignore the fine print. Take a poll conducted by ORC International last year. It first asked respondents if they supported a higher minimum wage, and found a result almost identical to the Quinnipiac poll. But then the pollster asked another question: Would respondents still support a wage hike if the policy would make it more difficult for low-skilled adults and teenagers to get hired? In this case, majority support for the policy flipped to majority opposition. Only 46% of respondents were still willing to support a higher minimum wage.

This consequence isn’t a hypothetical: A team of economists from Cornell University, San Diego State University, and the University of Oregon found that New York’s last state-legislated wage increase reduced employment for less-educated 16- to 29-year-olds by more than 20%. If the voting public isn’t made aware of key facts like this, then the results of a poll about a higher minimum wage are meaningless.

Something to consider the next time you see a poll touting public support of a poorly-crafted policy.