Example 1: Double-Barreled Question

Questions that group different topics may weaken the results. Take this question:

Please tell me whether you would vote for or against a candidate who supports reducing federal spending on education and welfare?

The question assumes that respondents logically group ‘education’ and ‘welfare’ together, but how would someone respond who was against cutting welfare, but favored spending cuts in education? This example is double-barreled, ambiguous, and confusing!

Example 2: Confusing Question

Any question that causes an analyst or reader to say, “huh?” probably had the same impact on the respondent. Like this one:

Does it seem possible or does it seem impossible to you that the Nazi extermination of the Jews never happened?

What is the question? Even if the respondent understood the question, would they understand how to answer? What does a reply of ‘yes’ mean? Needless to say, this question did not yield reliable data. The survey firm recognized this and went back into the field with a less confusing question, which yielded different results.