Asking The Wrong Questions

New Gallup Poll Reveals Americans Strongly Support Space Exploration, Believe it Inspires Younger Generation, Coalition for Space Exploration

"Approximately two-thirds (68%) of adults surveyed agree that the benefits of space exploration outweigh the risks of human space flight. "

Editor's note: Ok, so Americans support space exploration - but do they want to pay (more) to do it? There is a difference between "support" (words) and reaching for your wallet.

Gallup Poll Results (PDF), Coalition for Space Exploration

"Approximately one in every two (52%) adults say they would support increasing NASAs budget from one-sixth of one percent to one percent of the federal budget (14% strongly support and 38% support this). Nearly as many (45%) report they oppose increasing the budget (30% oppose it and 15% strongly oppose it)."

But

"When the public is asked how willing they would be to support an increase in taxes if the money was to go to NASA to help close the budget deficit, 43% said they would be willing however, more than half(57%) report they would not be willing. There was not a great deal of variation in responses by gender, age or education a majority in each of these groups said they would not be willing to support an increase in taxes to help close this five-year budget deficit."

Editor's note: In essence, a razor thin majority in this poll supports more budget money for NASA - so long as it comes from somewhere else - but not if it means that they have to pay more taxes. Sounds like broad, but thin and diffuse support for NASA. I'd be curious to see what a poll of the same people would show if mention of "NASA" was omitted and questions were simply asked about space exploration - as a concept - regardless of how it would be done (private and/or private sector).

If the Coalition for Space Exploration really wants to further the notion of a robust taxpayer-funded program of space exploration - one based on a solid footing of public support - then they need to start paying attention to what their polls actually say and stop trying to skew the results to say something that the numbers do not support. If, however, they want to support space exploration - regardless of how it comes about - then they need to re-examine their motives - and ask different questions.

People might not want to pay more taxes for space exploration, but they might be interested in buying a ticket.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on June 19, 2008 8:52 AM.

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