Electricity: For Real, or Fleeting Fad?

No one ever accused pollsters of asking the right questions. A new Associated Press-Ipsos poll is a case in point.

As the holidays descend upon us, pollsters, who have taken a lot of heat the past couple of years for asking the wrong questions or misinterpreting the puzzled answers to said wrong questions, are still churning out those polls. (Think about it. What else are they gonna do? They’re pollsters!)

Luckily (or perhaps not), we live in interesting times, so there’s no lack of relevant questions to pose. For starters:

Should American troops begin pulling out of Iraq, and, if so, when?

Are the people you elected justified in wiretapping your phone and peeking at your e-mails without warrants?

— And, getting closer to home — Are electronic gadgets actually of any use at all?

Let’s face it, that last one is a question that has been dividing Americans since Benjamin Franklin got a nasty shock from touching that key at the end of that kite string in 1752.

Thankfully, the industrious pollsters at the Associated Press-Ipsos have recently tackled the last question, and the results of the poll were dutifully reported today by CNN, Newsday, Business Week, and USA Today. In summary: yes, overwhelmingly, Americans came down in support of electronic gadgets.

“Personal computers, cellphones and high-speed Internet are considered essential to getting by for millions of Americans,” reported the AP.

“Almost half of personal computer owners say they can’t imagine life without their computers,” added the AP. “About as many cellphone owners say the same thing about their portable phones.”

The AP supplemented the stunning poll results by managing to uncover a mother in Virginia who enjoys e-mail, an attorney in North Carolina who likes Direct TV, and a shopper in Florida who was buying Xbox games for her kids. “There is more interest in these products,” a market analyst told the AP. “Pricing is more reasonable. They’re getting smaller, more mobile.”

The results of the poll will surely cause waves throughout Wall Street, particularly among those many analysts who were anticipating that electronic and digital stuff would be getting more expensive, bigger and less mobile in coming years — and potentially cast into doubt all those predictions of strong typewriter sales and rotary wall phone installations this Christmas.

It seems Washington D.C. isn’t the only one capable of offering the American people insultingly stupid choices this holiday season. Apparently, the pollsters at AP-Ipsos are also happy to do their part.

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Felix Gillette writes about the media for The New York Observer.