The Big Disconnect

From the beginning of the Wisconsin situation one thing that’s been clear from almost all the national media is that it’s a tough spot for the public employees unions because the public at large doesn’t like unions. Especially public employees unions. Only now there are a string of polls out — particularly yesterday’s Gallup poll — which show that that’s simply not true. The nation at large overwhelmingly opposes banning collective bargaining rights for public employees (61% – 33%).That’s not just to say that they’re against restricting the rights of organized labor, but public sector unions in particular.

What’s popular and what’s not isn’t the be all and end all of political reporting by any means. But it positively suffuses most of the news reporting as a virtually unchallenged assumption. And virtually every report assumes that the local unions and the state Senate Democrats are under the most pressure because public opinion isn’t on their side.

And yet, the reverse seems to be the case. It’s an illustrative example of how personal assumptions are usually much more potent than actual evidence in shaping people’s — and reporters’ — take on what’s happening.