MTV Misrepresents Young Voter Opinion

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Here’s a riddle for you: What do people who were about 16 years old when Elvis became the ‘first modern rock star’ have in common with the people who watch MTV today? Apparently, they all feel the same way about privatized Social Security. That’s right, the organization which is given the most credit for getting young people to the polls, MTV’s Rock the Vote, and your grandparents’ American Association of Retired People have teamed up to battle the evil beast of President Bush’s new Social Security plan.
The joint forces say that their polling proves that people who are as far as 47 years away from qualifying for Social Security feel the same way about privatized Social Security as the people who are already getting it. Questions were raised about how valid these polls really were. The first conspicuous fact is that the poll’s ‘young voters’ range from 18 to 39, and that of the ‘young voter’ group only 23 percent are under 25. The average age of voters in this group was 29. I don’t know what you think, but if people over 25 need MTV to tell them to vote, I’m not sure I want them voting in the first place.
There have also been accusations that the poll involved ‘push polling.’ Basically, push polling is a way of getting the ‘right’ answers in a poll. After asking a question, the pollster asks a follow-up, intended to ‘push’ or ‘guide’ the person in the ‘correct’ direction. I wanted to see if this was true, so I analyzed the questions and percentage answers to the questions that were provided in the Summary of Findings report that is available at the Rock the Vote Web site (www.rockthevote.com).
The poll’s first actual question of substance about privatized Social Security was whether the young voter supported private accounts, after being read a brief description of what private accounts are. The ‘young voters’ were 68 percent in favor of them, with 4 percent unsure.
So, now Rock the Vote is in trouble. It claimed, contrary to popular belief, that young voters don’t want privatized Social Security, but its own polling as well as polling that has been done legitimately for years, have found that they do. But Rock the Vote needs to promote its left-wing agenda and so it continued with questioning the people who supported privatized Social Security. The questioning progressed, asking voters if they would still support privatized accounts if it meant creating a new government agency, massive new federal debt, or requiring ‘additional help from government.’ The questions went on and on, and I became disgusted and stopped reading. Rock the Vote wasn’t polling their constituency; it was telling them how to think.
Rock the Vote, an organization that parades around telling young people to become informed about the issues and to go out and vote any way they want, doesn’t really want this. This is the same organization that has celebrities and rock stars on stage at its rallies bashing President Bush (this happened during its Get Out the Vote rallies during the last presidential campaign). Rock the Vote is as interested in being nonpartisan, which it claims it is, as Ted Kennedy. It wants to promote a certain idea and will stop at nothing to do so.
For a group that says it’s nonpartisan, it sure left out a lot in its questioning. How about asking the ‘young voters’ if they would support the current Social Security system if it meant cutting benefits of the program by 27 percent by the year 2024? What about if it meant raising the retirement tax by 18 percent?
Both of these are facts, but you won’t hear Rock the Vote say that. Nor will you hear it tell you that at this rate, ‘young’ people will never get as much out of the system as they put in. Never.
It’s good for ‘young people’ to get out and make informed decisions. But left-wing wackos parading around like nonpartisan good guys who are telling the ‘young people,’ the ‘future of America,’ how to think is pathetic. The AARP is a fine, upstanding organization that helps the older generation of America, and it should be ashamed of its association with the Rock the Vote campaign, which doesn’t care what its constituents really think, only about what it tells them to think.

Alex Chazen is a first-year political science major. He can be reached at achazen@uci.edu.

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