Bad reporting about bad polling

MSNBC's Monica Novotny just read a Quinnipiac poll result:

According to a new Quinnipiac poll, 65 percent say eliminating the threat of terrorism is worth American troops' lives in Afghanistan.

That's super, but Quinnipiac may as well have asked if world peace, an end to poverty, and a pony for every child is worth Americans troops' lives in Afghanistan. See, we're never going to “eliminate the treat of terrorism.” Never. Terrorism is a tactic, not a finite object that can be destroyed. Finding out that there is strong public support for something that simply isn't going to happen -- that isn't particularly useful.

In fact, the same Quinnipiac poll found only 38 percent think “the United States will be successful in eliminating the threat from terrorists operating from Afghanistan.” Novotny and MSNBC didn't mention that result.

It's bad enough that polling operations ask meaningless questions about whether people support the use of military force in an attempt to reach an outcome that is impossible. Even worse is that news organizations like MSNBC selectively use those poll questions to overstate the extent of public support for war.