Polls are a collection of numbers that are only as meaningful as you want them to be. Ask Mitt Romney. His pollsters told him he was going to win. He was crushed.
Polls told us that Americans overwhelmingly favored background checks on weapons. Congress didn't believe them.
So now we're getting some new numbers on Edward Snowden. But before you jump to any conclusions, in a poll conducted on the Fourth of July of this year, three names were given 2000 people at a fireworks gathering at Chicago's Navy Pier. Given these three names, they were asked who recently released classified documents about U.S. surveillance programs. William McKinley, Gustav Mahler or Edward Snowden. McKinley, the president, came in first with (37%); Mahler, the Austrian composer, second (21%); and Snowden, the document leaker, third (18%). The remaining 24% weren't aware of any classified documents being released. This isn't a slam on Chicago. It's a comment on how uninformed we are as a society.
So, with that as a reference, I'd like to share some numbers from a new HuffPost/YouGov poll.
Democrats said that Snowden did the wrong thing by a 46 percent to 26 percent margin, while independents said that he did the right thing by a 40 percent to 28 percent margin.
According to the new survey, 51 percent of Americans now say they've heard a lot about Snowden, while 38 percent say they've heard a little and only 11 percent said they've heard nothing at all.
Now that doesn't seem to jive with the unscientific poll in Chicago on Independence Day. Perhaps when you deal with real people, out with their families to enjoy the nations birthday, they become forgetful. Or maybe the YouGov poll is too tightly wrapped up in bed with the political activists of this country and not with the people as a whole. That's just a bit of an observation.
Forty-eight percent of respondents to the poll said that they support prosecuting Snowden for his actions, while 33 percent were opposed.
Maybe Snowden did wrong. Maybe he did right. We may never know until he tries to flee Russia (if he's even there) to another country and the US extorts or exerts pressure on other countries to act on unsubstantiated rumors of his flying over their airspace and forcing down his plane.
Hey, United States, stop the unregulated spying on us . Stop reading our mail. Stop snooping in on our internet communications. Stop tagging our phone calls. You need something for national security reasons? You should have it. But do it legally. Get a warrant. That's what the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA) is for.
And US Congress. It's your job to make sure it's followed.