Over at On Faith, the Washington Post's religion microsite, Brad Hirschfield writes about a Rasmussen poll that “indicates that 65% of Americans favor prayer in our nation's public schools,” and asks: “So why not give the people what they want?”
But because the Rasmussen poll in question is (predictably) terrible, it provides no reason to believe “the people” don't already have what they want -- indeed, it provides no real indication of what it is that they want. Here's what Rasmussen asked:
Do you favor or oppose prayer in public schools?
There's really only one way to respond to that question: What does that even mean?
Does it mean voluntary, independent prayer by students during free time?
Does it mean voluntary group prayer organized by students during free time?
Does it mean voluntary prayer organized by faculty?
Does it mean compulsory prayer led by faculty during class?
Does it mean compulsory prayer to a specific god led by faculty during class?
It could mean any of those things, and more. And students can already voluntarily pray at school, so the Rasmussen poll results give us absolutely no indication of whether people favor a change in current law.
In other words, the Rasmussen poll results are completely useless. The moral of the story, as usual: Ignore Rasmussen polls. Also: Be wary of purported experts who rely upon such obviously shoddy polling to make their case.