Last night Fox News released a new poll with a dead heat between President Obama and Mitt Romney as the headline result. But as always with Fox polls, the real fun is looking deeper in the poll at the topical questions Fox included. In this poll, they dedicated a series of questions to the recent silly season spat over comments Democratic lobbyist Hilary Rosen made about Ann Romney.
In the section of the poll released yesterday — questions 16 to 34 are being released separately — Fox asked four questions related to the Rosen-Romney kerfuffle. One broadly described the controversy and asked if Rosen’s comments were “fair” or a “cheap shot,” finding that 72% of respondents thought it was a cheap shot (one could quibble with whether Fox’s description of the situation loaded answers toward the “cheap shot” conclusion, but that’s not the point of this post). Another question asked how much stay-at-home moms should be paid if they had an annual salary.
What I’m interested in, however, are the two questions Fox asked comparing the toughness of being a stay-at-home mom with other potential work situations:
In some ways, this is a great example of framing effects in survey question wording. Both “being a working mom” and “being a political strategist” could be used to describe Hilary Rosen. So if the question is asked in the former manner, a near majority of respondents think Rosen has a tougher job, but if the question is asked in the latter manner, the majority of respondents think Ann Romney has the tougher job.
Obviously, if the questions aren’t meant to be a direct comparison between Romney and Rosen, the effect of changing the point of comparison for stay-at-home moms means less. But what other reason would Fox News have for including a question about whether being a stay-at-home mom is tougher than being a political strategist then to take a shot at Rosen?