We already know that polling is basically useless because specific wording, the nature of the questions and the accepted answers, the context, all drastically change people’s answers. But Disinformation elaborates further:
The ‘public opinion’ that is manifested on the front pages of newspapers is a pure and simple artifact whose function is to disguise the fact that the state of opinion at a given time is a system of forces, tensions, and that nothing more inadequately expresses the state of opinion than a percentage.
There is, then, powerful evidence to suggest that public opinion has been deployed as a weapon of class warfare by capital since the 1930s; that the use of propaganda techniques by economic elites has continued, increasing in its sophistication and volume, to the present day; that the techniques and measures of opinion polling which are deployed by political, business and media elites are fundamentally flawed at a conceptual as well as a methodological level.
I maintain that, in this context, the tendency of those on the left to accept the terrain of ‘public opinion’ at face value, and to triangulate tactics in the fight against austerity in terms of how they might affect public opinion, hands our opponents a huge advantage and ensures that the campaign is played out on territory which they largely control.