- NASA Watch
- May 21, 2023
Yet Another Space Poll Says What Other Space Polls Always Say
Survey: Americans Support Entrepreneurs in Space But Want Improvements on Earth, Brodeur Partners
“The new poll of more than 600 Americans’ attitudes toward business in space was conducted earlier this month by the Brodeur Partners’ Space Group. The new survey found that Americans:
– Still see national security as the top space activity;
– At the same time, they support private sector activity in space;
– However, they want some degree of government regulation, especially privacy protection;
– And they expect space development to directly benefit Earth; and
– Think the U.S. is a leader, if not the leader, in space technology.
“Americans still view space technology through the old lens of defense and national security,” said Jerry Johnson, a partner at Brodeur Partners and author of the study. “But we also found that there is support for commercial activity in space, even government funding for that activity, if those businesses are reasonably regulated and can demonstrate benefits on Earth.”
Keith’s note: Once or twice a year someone does a space poll that says the same things that all of these space polls always say: people like space. Of course, this poll will be cited by those who see validation for their stances on space and will be ignored by those whose viewpoints are not strongly supported. Based on the press release (that’s all that has been released) you can pretty much project whatever you want upon the poll and also extract whatever you want from it. We have no idea who paid for this poll, who the pollsters talked to, how they did the poll (phone, writing) or all of the questions the participants were actually asked. So … your mileage may vary. Yawn.
Ask the same questions and you get the same answers. I view most space polls as simply push polls, not something that really tries to explore what the public wants in space.
But the good thing is that as SX and BO move beyond NASA the public’s support for space will matter less than the market revenue generated.
And these same questions in ways are “loaded” or multiple choice so you are limited to how you can answer. Maybe some NASA people are concerned about roof leaks during the rains, or the HVAC is down? Or purchasing and travel procedures horribly bureaucratic? You also have perception that 20% of federal budget is spent on space, or many in general public can’t tell difference between fiction and fact (people believe still from Interstellar or Gravity but claim Cassini photo is CGI).
I think this last part is why Musk ended his IAC 2017 presentation with point-to-point travel. Mars colonization is all nice and inspirational, but an Earth application of BFR is what generates the most interests so far.
When I did exploratory basic research on what goals the non-space public would actually support the only two above the noise level of the survey was protection from asteroid impacts and space based solar power. Everything else, Mars, Moon, search for life, space settlement, was in the low single digits. The only other response in the double digits was to end funding for space.
In terms of space tourism, around 60% wanted to take a ride into space but less than 5% felt the government should spend any money supporting it.
If it wasn’t for the money NASA brings into to a few key Congressional Districts NASA would have been down sized to NACA levels decades ago. But President Johnson knew how the world works and so made sure to put NASA Centers in key Southern states to keep the money flowing to it.
I suspect the lobbyists for the various space advocates know this as well which is why they only do push polls.
Your results exemplifying both the importance of leadership and the dangers of true democracy (which we don’t have, luckily).
Actually its a starting point for your information campaign. If you know what folks want you then position what should be in a way to satisfy it.
For example, if folks are worried about NEO impacts you show how the same technologies needed to mine them will protect the Earth from impact events.
In the experimental part of the study I found I could double support for the VSE by packaging it in terms of benefits to the economy. Its a question of proper amplification.
Really? I would have thought there would be public support for navigation, communications and weather satellites. Or was that something people think we’ve already got and don’t need to improve or maintain?
Those ceased being space goals after their huge success. As a result 99% of folks just take those wonders for granted and don’t think about them, the real measure of their success. They are just seen as basic infrastructure, not space exploration.
Yes, Weather sats may attract the public’s attention soon, but only when they aren’t available because their replacements haven’t been funded. Then folks will be looking for someone to blame.
Seems kind of curious that no one cares about science or discovery. Maybe that isn’t one of the questions.
Scientists simply don’t have the money to buy the services of this firm which specializes in crafting high dollar corporate communication strategies. This poll was basically done as part of their promotional strategy. The basic idea is to show there is a problem so they hire you to solve it. It’s the old snake oil pitch upgraded for the executive suite. Indeed, here is the hook in the Press Release.
‘”This new data reveals a tricky communications challenge for the Entrepreneurial Space industry,” said John Brodeur, chairman of Brodeur Partners, who is leading the Brodeur Space Group.” ‘
And of course Brodeur Partners just happen to be good at handling tricky communications challenge like this 🙂
So why would they waste time on a market segment that has no money to spend on their services? No, they want the Entrepreneurial Space firms to buy their services…
What it really shows is that firms like this are now sensing there is money to be made from the space commerce boom and want their share of it. It’s a sign that Space may be finally main streamed into the economy instead of being a fringe activity 🙂
“We have no idea who paid for this poll, who the pollsters
talked to, how they did the poll (phone, writing) or all of the questions the participants were actually asked.”
Keith, As someone who teaches Survey Research at the graduate level I will answer those questions.
This poll was paid for by Brodeur Partners’ Space Group as part of their promotional budget for launching their new space group. This is common practice when moving into a new industry area. Package it in a press release and it is an order of magnitude less expense then buying actually advertising.
Under the methodology it actually tells how the data was collected, but you need to know the industry to read between the lines.
“The Brodeur Space Entrepreneur 2017 Survey was conducted using Toluna’s online panel in the U.S. (n=615) from Oct. 4 to Oct. 11, 2017″
Toluna only does online panel surveys. They advertise on websites to get folk to volunteer to fill out surveys on mobile platforms and computers in exchange for “points” they are able to redeem as gifts, so it’s a self-selected sample of folk with nothing else to do. Clients like Brodeur Partners simply pay Toluna to have their questions given to a specific number of these individuals filtered by the demographic parameters they provided. When you get the number of surveys completed you want the survey is closed.
Because it is a self-selected sample it is NOT possible to generalize it to the population as a whole. In short, it is about as valid as a poll you would run on your website. Indeed, they even state this in the fine print although they then go on to generalize in the actual survey.
“Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in Toluna surveys, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.”
If you are not able to calculated the sampling error you are not able to generalize it.
Given how these type of surveys are done I expected the questions are the ones you actually see. Since this poll is just an advertising hook they probably didn’t waste any more time pre-testing the questionnaire or validating the questions then they did with sampling, which was near zero.
Thanks for finding this! It will be a good example to show my graduate students to illustrate the difference between actual survey research and advertising being disguised as survey research.
This is one reason why I do a space lecture every semester for my students. We space advocates can sit on our behinds and try to find a poll that says people agree with us or we can go out and do the hard work and convince them of the usefulness of space with logical arguments.