Atlanta, GA (UPI) Nearly every day we are bombarded with reports on television, radio and in the newspapers alleging that a majority of the public does not support President Bush's plan to restructure Social Security.
The major media outlets have based most of their headlines and stories on their own polling data. The skunk in the polls is that most media outlets are predetermining the results of their polls by asking the wrong questions. They then distort their stories to indicate that the public opposes personal retirement accounts. The question pollsters ask to determine support for personal retirement accounts rarely focuses on the accounts, but rather on the president himself and his handling of Social Security.
For example, an April 24 ABC News/Washington Post poll asked, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling Social Security?" 64 percent of respondents disapproved, and 31 percent approved.
An April 16 CBS News poll asked, "Do you have confidence in George W. Bush's ability to make the right decision about Social Security, or are you uneasy about his approach?" 70 percent said they were uneasy, and 25 percent were confident.
A March 18 Newsweek poll asked, "We're interested in your opinion of the way George W. Bush is handling certain aspects of his job. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Bush is handling Social Security?" 59 percent disapproved, and 33 percent approved.
The only poll to consistently show support for the president's plan is the Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll. The Fox poll is also the only poll that focuses solely on personal retirement accounts, and not on the president or his "handling" of Social Security.
A March 30 Fox poll asked, "Do you favor or oppose giving individuals the choice to invest a portion of their Social Security contributions in stocks or mutual funds?" On this straightforward question, 60 percent favored giving people this option, and 28 percent opposed.
Another Fox poll on April 26 asked respondents, "Thinking about Social Security contributions, do you think people under age 55 should have the right to choose between keeping all of their contributions in the current system and investing a portion of their contributions?" 79 percent answered "yes," while 13 percent answered "no."
Herman Cain is the National Chairman of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He is the former president and CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc., and currently is CEO and president of T.H.E. New Voice, Inc., a business and leadership consulting company.
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