The Hilarious And Ingenious Questions That One Polling Firm Asked During The 2012 Campaign

Public Policy Polling, the firm that correctly predicted all 50 states in the presidential election, is known for asking some weird, quirky and, sometimes, controversial questions in its polls. 

Tom Jensen, PPP’s director, told Business Insider that many of these questions are user-driven. He often asks the firm’s Twitter followers for any suggestions on where to poll and what questions to ask.

Because PPP made no qualms about openly rooting for President Barack Obama’s re-election, many of the questions — such as asking Mississippi and Alabama residents if they believe Obama is Muslim — infuriate those on the right. It found that most Republicans in the state believed he was a Muslim.

“Some people think that’s a frivolous question to ask,” Jensen said. “I think it’s important, because it shows that either there are some huge misconceptions about who the president actually is after four years in office, or it’s a reflection of straight-up racism and people refusing to accept that the black guy could really be a Christian like they are.”

Here are some of the firm’s best questions of the election cycle.

One of the best came in a March 2011 poll, when it polled Charlie Sheen against popular Republican candidates and Obama. The eye-opening number: Sheen beat Sarah Palin among Independents.

“Republicans were like, ‘Oh, my God,'” Jensen said.

PPP polls

PPP took the theoretical approval rating of “God” in a July 2011 poll:

PPP poll

Earlier, in May 2011, when news swirled around Harold Camping’s prediction of a “Rapture,” PPP tried to make a point by seeing how much of a “political game-changer” the rapture would be.

“While few voters think the Rapture is coming, they’re pretty darn confident that they’re going up to Heaven if it does,” Jensen wrote. “66% think they would be taken up to only 13% who think they’d be stuck down here and 21% who are unsure. It would really change the political landscape if everyone who thought they were going to be Raptured was correct. With the 34% of voters remaining here on earth Obama leads Romney 53-35, Gingrich 56-31, and Palin 61-26. You’re talking a blowout of epic proportions next year with the third of voters that would remain.”

Here’s one of those questions:

PPP poll

In March 2012, PPP buried its “Is-Obama-A-Muslim?” question in these results of a poll of Mississippi and Alabama Republicans, but they still became a hot topic of conversation:

PPP polls

In May, after Mitt Romney’s much-publicized statement during the Republican primary that the “trees are the right height” in Michigan, PPP asked the state’s residents:

PPP poll

These two questions from a May 2012 poll, back to back, are pretty tremendous:

PPP polls

In July, it found that in the battle for Wisconsin, cheese is beating beer:

PPP polls 

In October, after a much-hyped video release of a 2007 Obama speech on The Drudge Report and The Daily Caller, PPP asked Minnesota residents a series of questions on the topic. It drew the ire of Washington Post conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin, among others:

PPP poll

Finally, PPP asked Ohio residents whether Obama or Romney deserved “more credit” for the killing of Osama bin Laden. It found that an abnormally 15% of Ohio Republicans believed Romney did, which earned PPP a fair amount of conservative criticism.

PPP poll

PPP also had some fun this campaign season — for example, conducting a Halloween-centric poll. Here was the big divide between Republicans and Demcrats:

PPP poll

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via Business Insider


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