08/31/2010 03:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Quinnipiac's Park51 Polling Doesn't Make Much Sense

Adam Serwer rounds up the confusing results of Quinnipiac's polling on the Park51 project and notes that the results bespeak "cognitive dissonance." Though, if you ask me, it reads more like what happens after cognition is taken out for a lengthy beating and then forced to answer poll questions. To wit:

A majority of New York state voters think that Muslims have the right to "build a mosque near Ground Zero," but 53 percent to 39 percent think "that because of the sensitivities of 9/11 relatives, Muslims should not be allowed to build the mosque near Ground Zero." I'm not sure how a majority can believe simultaneously that someone has the right to do something but that they "shouldn't be allowed" to do it, so it's not clear to me what to make of that.

The poll gets on the wrong foot with many of its questions, most notably: "Some people say that because of American freedom of religion, Muslims have the right to build the mosque near Ground Zero. Do you agree or disagree?" First, as Serwer points out, "the mosque isn't a mosque," and for what it's worth, there already is a mosque four blocks from the World Trade Center site. Second, it's irrelevant what "some people say" about religious freedom -- Constitutional rights exist. I'd be interested in knowing how respondents answer a question like, "The Constitution accords Muslims the right to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Do you agree or disagree?" to see how people answer when the "some say" Straw Men aren't there to let them off the hook.

Serwer goes on to note that while New Yorkers strongly back GOP gubernatorial contender Rick Lazio's call to have state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo "investigate the project's finances," they aren't particularly amenable to the idea of Lazio becoming governor.

Basically, the poll is a hot mess.

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