An open letter to pollsters, stat takers, and survey pimps

What the HELL is this crap? Are you serious? A poll asking South Carolina voters which presidential candidate is the SEXIEST. Really?

I’m just curious what is accomplished by a poll like this, why any polling company would ask this question, and why the hell they think I care.

The President of Public Policy Polling, Dean Debnam, agrees this is silly, “Politics doesn’t always have to be completely serious,” he says in the press release. “We did this survey to remind folks to keep their senses of humor during this intense election season.”

Yeah, I’m not laughing.

If you want me to keep my sense of humor, how about asking me which candidate tells the best joke. Or which candidate is mostly likely to have a beer at the local pub. Draw me a funny political cartoon. Let me just state I’m stretching with those examples, because I really am not sure this election needs to have a sense of humor. Some “light” moments-I’ll give ya’ that…but my sense of humor just doesn’t come into play with dead soldiers and Iraqis, families struggling to pay their mortgage, lives-hanging-in-the-balance, fate-of-our-country politics.

But let’s tackle the bigger issue here and why this poll makes me roll my eyes and want to move to Canada-ENOUGH with the sexy crap. Obama girl, Hillary boy, Edward’s hair, Clinton’s cleavage-ENOUGH already.

What does even discussing which candidate is SEXY accomplish in the bigger picture aside from the few chuckles the polling folks were hoping for?

It reinforces that “sexy” matters.

It reinforces the idea that Americans care more about Oprah than Obama.

It reinforces to my daughter she needs to be thin, beautiful, and slutty.

It reinforces to my son SEXY counts when trying to win over the world.

It reinforces to ME some voters care more about American Idol and Britney’s custody case and will actually cast their ballot for the candidate who has the best stylist.

It reinforces to the candidates the false notion 8.3 million readers of care more about fluff than the issues.

Maybe I have no sense of humor this morning. Maybe I woke up to find this poll and am overreacting. I’ll admit I’m feeling rather cynical this weekend.
Or maybe I’m tired of some woman shaking her ass all over national tv for Obama and the media discussing necklines and skin.

We have quips about looking “too” feminine or “mannish”-leading to snark about tears in New Hampshire. We have polls measuring the next leader of the free world’s SEXY.

Enough. Please. Enough

crossposted at the Huffington Post


  1. Erin, your conservative friend in Texas agrees with you on this one. You know I love humor and fun as much — or more — than the next person. But this kind of stuff is downright stupid and demeaning. I’m not going to vote for Hillary; I disagree with her on too many issues. But I’m proud that we have a woman presidential candidate, one with a serious potential for winning, and it makes me mad every time the media examine her hairdo or cleavage or whether she can cry on cue.

  2. And all the people said AMEN!

    (not to put too hucksterish a point on things 😉 )

  3. I have totally lost my sense of humor over the past 7 years, I’m afraid. Remember what we got when the poll asked who we’d rather have a beer with, Al or Little Boots.

  4. I’m still just dumbfounded that the Washington Post ran an article on Hilary’s cleavage.


    Sad, when the one truly bipartisan thing going on in our country is being a shallow moron.

  5. I was reading too fast and thought the poll asked which candidate was sexist on my first run through and I was wondering what’s wrong with asking that.

    Sadly, many voters will vote based on ‘packaging’, whoever is the slickest, most well marketed product.

  6. Shout it from the rooftop girl.


    I’ve birthed two children and I still worry about being sexy. It’s freaking ridiculous.

  7. The Washington Post really ran that Hillary article? Holy hell.

    I know when I go to the polls, I vote for the guy/gal with the best feet.

  8. sheesh! Sexiest candidate? Are we THAT much of a People society?

    Oh, and because I love you, I tagged you for a meme. kisses!

  9. says:

    I’m Dean Debnam and I own Public Policy Polling.

    I added the “sexy” question to a poll we were doing on the SC primaries.

    I added it because it is so hard to get the press and people in general to pay attention to the serious things we poll about.

    So I got your attention, so where are the rants about other things we polled on like, mandatory fact based sex education in our public High Schools or how we encourage and fund public transportation, or how we control sprawl and pay for growth, or who is the most electable Democrat or Republican, or how do we feel about the war, immigration, the economy, tax cuts. or choice, or gay marriage….?

    I also own a worldwide human resource company that employees over 200 women. They are the leaders and the core of the company and they don’t get or keep their jobs on looks.

    I think my wife is sexy in every sense of the the word. She is five years older than I me (I’m 53), and some of the sexiest things about her to me are her intellect (she is smarter than I am), her drive and her desire to make the world a better place (she runs a very large organization doing just that).

    We have five daughters and two grandchildren. I think my children are good looking, but what makes me proud is that they are all smart powerful women, that care about people and making the world a better place.

    So now that I have your attention, can we talk about things that matter?

  10. I believe we call that “pandering.”

  11. “So now that I have your attention, can we talk about things that matter?”

    Sure. Let’s. Thing is, so many people see that Big Media is asking who’s sexiest, so what’s the point of talking about things with more gravity?

    With all the American Idols, America’s Next Top Models, and Dancing with the Stars out there, you’ve really touched on what matters to a lot of the public. Why not poll on some things that already DO matter, so you get people thinking about them?

    That seems to be a lot more practical (and effective) than getting their attention with a vanity poll and hoping the conversation turns serious from there.

    Can’t you see it?

    Person 1: Oh, I think Obama is the sexiest.
    Person 2: No way! It’s totally McCain. But, you know, I just don’t like McCain’s stance on taxation.
    Person 1: You know, you’re right. And Obama has some screwy ideas about exiting Iraq.
    Person 2: Yeah, but he does have a cute butt. I’ll bet he wins the caucass.

    There’s the political thought we’ve been waiting for! I, for one, salute you for raising the bar in public political contemplation.

  12. arse poetica says:

    Mr. Debnam, this sounds dangerously like some of your best friends are women. Glad to hear it, but you don’t get credit for that. It’s the bare minimum anyone would expect of an even moderately enlightened human being.

    You got our attention, but was mockery and rejection the sort of attention you were seeking? Is any kind of attention worth having? Respectfully, how does one expect to be taken seriously after introducing their work as silly and diversionary? Why not (attempt to) establish credibility from the go?

    And not to put too fine a point on it, but the American people were done a huge disservice in the early days of the Bush candidacy with silly distractions like who had the most presidential tie/hair and which candidate the voters most wanted to have a beer with. Oh haha, what fun. Meanwhile, the criminals among us ushered in almost a decade of unheard of corruption, malfeasance, and every kind of treachery under the sun. The nation is the poorer for it, so you’ll pardon us if we just don’t think who’s sexy contributes anything meaningful to a discussion already tragically devoid of meaning as a result of–you guessed it–silly and cynical diversions.

    Do good work. Make your polls matter. Report faithfully. Take a more enlightened tack in achieving your goals of “talking about things that matter.” Use your creativity to make what matters the conversation, not the possible (though unlikely) by-product of attention-grabbing. I’m sure you can do it, and I look forward to your polling on the meaningful matters you list above.

  13. Are you kidding me? Mr. Debnam, you asked a question that has absolutely no place in politics, and you’re the one who is going on the attack? For you to have the audacity to ask QofS if we can talk about things that matter is not only pandering, but unfathomable as you are the one that asked a question that should be reserved for dating service questionnaires and NOT presidential preferences. And when someone questions it, you criticize them?

    Perhaps you should concentrate on finding better questions to ask in your polls than trolling blogs looking for a fight.

  14. I thought the comments were getting good until I read the one from the person doing the survey. Sorry, I thought we were talking presidential politics, not who was going to be voted most popular of the senior class. Are you kidding me? I don’t know, Mr. Debnam, can we talk about things that matter? Or is it simply a matter of who has the best-looking spouse and the better stylist?


  1. […] Filed under: raging liberal — Erika @ 9:24 am I was trying to ignore it, but then I read this post (shared by Lizzy) (thank you Google Reader) and I want to beat my head against the […]

Speak Your Mind