Gauging popular opinion
A recap of the past year’s issues and our readers’ responses
AS WE START a new year, we look back on
the past year of Informed Debates.
Some of our questions returned fairly
even results, such as “Should you be able to
opt out of Social Security?” and “Should
Supreme Court proceedings be televised?”
Some ignited social media campaigns to
stuff the ballot box. “Should marijuana be
legal?,” “Do the benefits of ‘fracking’ out-
weigh the risks?” and “Are ‘stand your
ground laws’ a good idea?” were picked up
by various blogs, which called on members
and non-members alike to weigh in. You’ll
see, in the results for those Debates, less
than balanced totals.
Here are the issues we looked at in 2012: Marijuana legal? January: No Debate February ✔Yes 53% No 47% Should you be able to opt out of Social Security? Yes Merrill Matthews, resident scholar, Institute for Policy Innovation No Greg Anrig, vice president, The Century Foundation No 6% No
July ✔Yes 53% No 47%
March ✔Yes 94%
Should marijuana be legal?
Yes Ethan Nadelmann, executive director,
Drug Policy Alliance
No Robert L. DuPont, president, Institute
for Behavior and Health Inc.
August ✔Yes 68% No 32%
Are charter schools a good idea?
Yes Mike Feinberg, co-founder, Knowledge Is
No Julie Cavanagh, teacher, member of
Grassroots Education Movement
OPEN Mandatory voting?
September ✔Yes 58% No 42%
Should Supreme Court proceedings be televised?
Yes Bruce Peabody, professor, Fairleigh
Diana Schaub, Garwood Visiting
Professor, Princeton University
April ✔Yes 92% No 8%
Do the benefits of “fracking” outweigh the risks?
Yes Lee Fuller, vice president, Independent
Petroleum Association of America
No Robert Howarth, Atkinson Professor,
October ✔Yes 94% No 6%
Are “stand your ground” laws a good idea?
May ✔Yes 89% No 11%
Should juries for high-profile criminal trials
Yes Donald E. Shelton, chief judge, Michigan
22nd Judicial Circuit
No Lucy A. Dalglish, executive director, Reporters
Committee for Freedom of the Press
November Yes 31% ✔No 69%
Should voting be mandatory?
June Yes 26% ✔No 74%
Do the benefits of “super PACs” outweigh
Yes Anthony Sanders, attorney, Institute for Justice
No Meredith McGehee, policy director, Campaign
December ✔Yes 82% No 18%
You can reach us with your Debate comments and suggested questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org;
by fax at (425) 313-6718; or by mail at P.O. Box 34088, Seattle, WA 98124-1088.