Finally, a Poll That Is Useful

By Michael Kaufman

Although the 2012 presidential election is still five months away, a day does not pass without the announcement of results of a new poll. One day we may learn that Romney has slipped a couple of points with Latino voters, or that support for Obama has gone down a notch or two with another group. Catholics, Jews, women, African-Americans, folks who live in “swing-states,” high-income people, college graduates, gays, people in the military, seniors, youth–all and and more are fair game for the burgeoning polling industry.

It was hard enough to keep track when there were just Harris and Gallup competing with each other to be numero uno in the poll game. But since they have been joined by Zogby, Pew, Rasmussen, Quinnipiac and others, it is getting ridiculous. Major media conglomerates are also getting into the act, often combining a TV network with a big-city newspaper and/or a big-name in the polling field to lend prestige:  “According to the latest NBC-New York Times-Gallup survey…”  All these polls, to paraphrase one of my old editors, “say everything and they say nothing.”

We don’t need polls that can’t possibly tell us anything about the outcome of an election held five months from now. Too many things can and will happen between now and then to influence the results. But that doesn’t mean we don’t need any polls. Polls can be helpful. To prove it I am hereby undertaking the first Kaufman-Zest of Orange poll to determine the opinions of our readers regarding a subject of admittedly minor importance, but which nonetheless should be of interest to all.

The background is this. My neighbor and I walk our dogs together a lot. One of us allows their dog to pee on mailbox posts along the way. The other considers this objectionable. Each thinks our opinion is shared by the majority of our neighbors. We’ve agreed that a poll will be a good way to settle the argument. You don’t have to be a dog owner or a property owner to participate. All responses posted below and via email will be tabulated and results announced some time next month.

So here goes….A simple yes or no is all that is required (although comments are welcome):

Question: Is it okay to let one’s dog pee on mailbox posts other than your own?

Feel free to identify yourself as belonging to any of the categories listed above. Perhaps we’ll uncover significant differences of opinion or trends among Catholics and Jews, men and women, gay and straight, etc.   Whichever side you’re on regarding dogs peeing on mailbox posts, remember to exercise your right to take part in this admittedly unimportant poll! (No proof of residency, absence of criminal record, or photo ID required.)

FROM THE VIRTUAL MAILBAG—My recent post re Scott Walker was “spot on,” wrote M.R. “The sad thing is that no matter who wins the election we can expect further erosion, if not total loss of our liberties. I hate to seem so pessimistic, but if something miraculous doesn’t happen soon, we are heading for a corporate dictatorship, where even this column will be banned!!” I agree there is plenty of cause for pessimism but there are also some encouraging signs of popular resistance….Paul Fischler, mentioned in a recent post as “another kid” who used to win paint jobs and other prizes from Alan Grant’s 1960s radio jazz program, wrote to correct my faulty memory of our meeting some 50 years ago: “Actually, I don’t think we met in the Garden City Hotel (since I don’t remember the performance you mention). I think we met when Alan Grant was organizing some sort of jazz club… and a few young people showed up for the meeting at some sort of club (or bar)… which had a juke box full of jazz!” Paul is right: We met at the Cork & Bib in Westbury. Prior to his email we hadn’t been in touch since…. Keep those cards and letters coming in.

Michael can be reached at









8 Responses to “Finally, a Poll That Is Useful”

  1. david diness Says:


  2. LeeAgain Says:

    My vote: Yes, it’s okay, providing the dog is not tall enough to pee IN the mailbox.

  3. Jon K Says:

    White Jewish American male, sans canine, living in the south, usually votes democratic (if there isn’t a more leftwind candidate on the ballot): Is it objectionable for dogs to pee on mailbox posts? Ans: Yes. Territorial male dogs will be attracted to the post and will add their watery marks. Horny female dogs will back up to the post and rub their hindquarters against it. Untold species of insects will home in on the post for a grain of salt. Countless other atrocities will occur. Here is a question for your next poll:Is it objectionable to use the plural possessive pronoun “their” to refer to a singular subject, as in, “One of us allows their dog to pee on mailbox posts…”
    I say no.

  4. Michael Kaufman Says:

    I’m not crazy about using “their” to refer to a singular subject but it beats using “his” when referring to women and men. I’ll have to see what the official Zest of Orange style guide has to say about.

  5. Rich Gigli Says:

    I’m not sure if it’s right or wrong. However, isn’t a mailbox government property? Beside, what would Benjamin Franklin say about it? And, is it fare that Santa would receive yellow stained letters from children and my wife’s valentine card would be yellow instead of red. I need more time to think about this.

  6. Michael Kaufman Says:

    In all fairness, Rich, the question is not whether it is okay to allow one’s dog to pee IN to a mailbox or ON someone’s mail. We ‘re only asking whether you find it objectionable if the dog is allowed to pee on the posts that support the mailboxes. I apologize if the question was not worded clearly enough. Let me know if you wish to change your vote in light of this clarification.

  7. Rich Gigli Says:

    Michael, no apologies are necessary, you were clear about the mailbox post.

    Beside, I must learn the differences between FARE and FAIR. That’s a laugh.

    I’ll have my vote in by Wednesday, I need to sleep on it for awhile..

  8. RichGigli Says:


    There are approximately 78.2 million owned dogs in the United States. The following statistics were compiled from the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey.

    I can’t find any statistics on mail box post. However, it would be interesting to know if there are more post than dogs.

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