Bizarre Poll Result of the Day

I've been known to engage in some Mark Penn-bashing in my day, but this passage from Microtrends is easily worth the price of admission:

My friend and colleague Sergio Bendixen, president of Bendixen and Associates in Miami and a preeminent expert in Hispanic public opinion research, conducted a cell phone poll of 600 Californians, aged 16-22, and asked them (innocuously enough), "what do you think you will most likely be doing in ten years?" It was a open-ended question, meaning that the respondents could give any answer they wanted (rather than being guided by a list of possible answers). As expected, almost 70 percent of the young folks said they'd be working, some in a specific career or running their own businesses. Twelve percent said they'd be in college, and 12percent said they'd be raising a family. One percent said they'd be in the military. And then, like a bolt from the blue, another 1 percent of California's young respondents volunteered that, in ten years, they would most likely be snipers.

Now, fascinatingly, rather than presenting any additional research or taking the opportunity to inform people about the possibility of polling error, Penn just launches into several pages worth of explaining the causes of the rise of this "new ambition of the younger generation."

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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