Essential Research today kicked off the annual round of pre-budget tax and spend polls, but with some pretty bad questions. Take the question below on the goal of returning to surplus by 2012-13, which according to this poll most people think should be abandoned:
But how about if the question had been phrased:
Q. Do you think it is more important for the Government to return the budget to surplus by 2012/13 as planned – which may mean cutting services and raising taxes – OR should they delay the return to surplus and go deeper and deeper into debt, with more government spending each year diverted to paying interest?
Tax and spend questions need to spell out the full implications of choices for the results to be meaningful. The failure to explain the real alternatives also renders pointless a question on increased spending.