If there is one truism in modern politics, it is probably that politicians put out polls on virtually every subject.
Such polls may or may not influence the stand a politician ultimately takes - there are probably as many examples of elected officials fighting the good fight for their principled, if unpopular positions as there are of those who test the waters before determining their stand.
And most voters would probably forgive even the most principled politicos for wanting to know how much of a fight they are in for before coming out hard in any given arena.
But even so, one wonders if the practice may have gone too far, with polling firms collecting data on ever-less important minutiae of American political life.
Such may have been the case in a poll regarding presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's prospects in Michigan - arguably speaking Romney's home state, where his father once served as Governor.
The poll painted Romney's chances of winning the state as bleak at best - he trails President Barack Obama by double digits, with 53 percent supporting Obama and 38 percent for Romney.
But buried in the otherwise routine poll was a question about Romney's remarks in the lead up to the GOP primary in Michigan during which he remarked that the trees in the state were "just the right height."
Public Policy Polling, a Democrat-aligned firm, has admittedly been known for asking some "trivial" - in the sense that perhaps they're better relegated to Trivial Pursuit - questions in its polling (which is generally held as among the more reliable in the field of pollsters).
The firm found in one survey, for example, that Virginia voters have very divided loyalties when it comes to Major League Baseball (the New York Yankees being the favorite of 14 percent of respondents, while the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox all tied at 13 percent).
In defense of PPP's questionnaires, such oddball questions are typically asked after the more important ones have already been responded to - in the case of the Michigan poll the question about trees was No. 8, well after the issue of who is winning the state and the relative popularity of Obama and Romney had been asked and answered.
That is important because a reminder of Romney's gaffe could have skewed the Presidential race results if asked too early.
So in the end there is at least no harm done by asking voters about odd, obscure or even trivial questions, and their responses may even prove interesting (though one wonders if anyone outside of Michigan's logging industry really has a vested interest in the height of trees there).
And to answer the question that must by now be burning: 38 percent of Michigan voters believe their trees are the right height, while are 55 percent unsure and only 8 percent believing they are not.
One final note to the Romney campaign - given that, according to the firm "Democrats (48%) are actually more likely to express agreement with Romney on that front than Republicans are (34%)" there may be some horticultural-based support to be reclaimed in the state… though probably not.
by RTT Staff Writer
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