Did something change?
Did the sugar rush of Halloween mess with our minds? Did the Occupy crackdown change our perceptions? Or did the ever-changing weather of mid-autumn continue to play with our emotions?
Somehow two polls — released two weeks apart — conducted by two different universities revealed two very different feelings on one topic.
The economy’s in the tank — both an MTSU Poll and a Vanderbilt poll show most Tennesseans are onboard with that statement.
Should taxes on the rich increase? That’s where Tennesseans don’t agree. At least not the Tennesseans who were polled.
In the MTSU poll, 49 percent of respondents said taxes should not be raised on households earning more than $250,000. Only 40 percent backed such increases.
Vandy’s method was a little more freeform, but the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions reported a “commanding number of Tennesseans” supported raising taxes on the “wealthy,” “millionaires,” or “people making more than $250,000 a year” — which are similar but hardly fungible terms.
In any event, Vanderbilt reported people making less than $75,000 supported raising taxes on the wealthy by a 3-to-1 margin. That slipped to the “50 to 63 percent” — talk about freeform — range for people on the other side of the $75,000 threshold.
If nothing else, the polls show that even in blood-red Tennessee, voters are not a monolith.
The Vandy poll especially demonstrates a level of nuance on the issue, shades of gray frequently ignored in the echo chambers and the noise of the hustings. For one thing, the Vandy respondents can’t seem to agree on what a definition of “rich” is in the first place.
Now, poll results are like baseball statistics: They can be used to prove anything. And looking at two polls to draw any kind of conclusion is dangerous ground to tread.
But two polls taken so close together with samples taken from the same population and coming to such wildly different conclusions?
Sometimes, even mathematics isn’t as black or white as it should be.