by Abigail Quackenboss
Thanks to our 189 voters on Tuesday, February 18, who responded to our daily poll that asked “Should the President authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline?” This was probably one of our higher response rates in the past month. In addition, there was great discussion on the page – something we love to see!
For those of you who are interested in how the cookie crumbled, here are the response percentages from the poll.
These differ quite a bit from the response that Gallup received in March 2012 when 57% of respondents polled believed that the U.S. government should approve the Keystone XL pipeline. In addition, Pew found similar results with its September 2013 poll, with 65% of respondents in favor of building the Keystone XL pipeline.
The real question is why do our results differ so much from what Gallup and Pew say are representative samples of the American population? Well, there could be a number of factors. First, and probably most likely, is that our sample is not necessarily the most representative. We had 189 respondents, which I said was a lot, but when doing public opinion polls, pollsters prefer to get numbers upwards of 1,000. An increased sample size tends to be more representative, but only to a certain extent. (Once you get too large of a sample size you are just wasting time and money.)
Another possible reason, which goes hand in hand with the first, is that our respondents tend to be a bit more liberal with their ideologies than what would be expected in a larger sample. Don’t misinterpret this as me saying ALL of our users are more left on a political spectrum. I am simply saying the nature of the beast (technology, daily use, younger users) suggests we are a bit more left.
A final explanation I would guess might have an impact on the responses is the recent release of the environmental impact statement from the State Department. Although the State Department said there would be no real impact, many individuals and organizations are still skeptical about what sort of irreversible damage we might incur through this 1,180 mile pipeline running from Canada to Texas.
As of right now, the Keystone XL project is stalled again, this time by a lawsuit in Nebraska. Once again, we will have to wait and see how this debacle plays out and whether or not the project will get the go-ahead from a) Nebraska, and eventually b) the President.