Time to ban polling?

posted at 11:55 am on September 23, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Jazz Shaw asks the provocative question at The Moderate Voice, wondering who really benefits from the public dissemination of so many competing surveys.  On both the state and national levels, multiple pollsters using varying methodology have produced results that would indicate landslides for both John McCain and Barack Obama, and just about every possible intermediate result as well.  Jazz wonders why these numbers get treated any differently than election-day exit polling, and whether they should get treated the same:

What is the difference between these projections and the public release of polling numbers and projections? The current presidential race would not seem to apply, as the polls are close and seem to shift by the day. But what if one of the candidates opens up a significant (let’s say 15% or better) lead nationally and jumps to a similar lead in the majority of the swing states by late October? If all of the Joe and Jane Sixpacks across the country are sitting down in front of the television on Halloween evening and the news anchors are saying that either McCain or Obama has effectively won the election already, where is the motivation to get out and vote?

What benefit to voters get from having these poll numbers fed to them every day? I can understand how the campaigns would pay to get poll numbers… it’s a useful tool that can help them craft their message and decide where to expend resources for the best chance of victory. And, obviously, polls are great for journalists, bloggers, radio hosts and television talking heads since they give us something else to chatter about while we wait for the next debate or monstrous gaffe. But are the voters served by having this information? Or might it actually toss an otherwise potentially close election out the window?

Is it time for the media, both new and old, to declare a [moratorium] on releasing poll numbers?

Actually, I think the moratorium on the release of exit polling is rather silly.  It springs from a patronizing opinion of the American voter that suggests that Joe Sixpack won’t vote unless he feels it the equivalent of the climactic moment of an episode of 24.  The ban effectively keeps American voters from seeing the results of exit polls that the media and politicians see until the magic moment when the polls close in California — around 11 pm ET.  Supposedly, failures in the past suppressed voter turnout in California during Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid and in the Florida panhandle in 2000.

Of course, exit polling doesn’t do a good job of predicting close elections, but neither does most pre-election polling.  Most people understand the issues surrounding polls, including question biases, unbalanced samples, and margins of error.  Even accepting that a significant percentage might not understand the nuances of polls, though, does that mean everyone must be sequestered from this information?  Again, for most of us, that notion insults our intelligence and the native common sense of the American electorate.

Information is just like any other commodity; one has to be a discerning consumer.  Not everything published by the New York Times is worthless, and not everything aired by Fox is brilliant, nor the other way around.  Polls that use bad samples and questionable methodology will eventually get exposed, especially when the information is available for the mass market rather than just limited to a small circle of the cognescenti. Only in that manner can we see the raw data that people use to formulate their decisions and policy and determine the validity of their decisions.

I’d say let all of this information be free and allow people to absorb it themselves.  People who decide not to vote because the polls don’t look to be swinging in their favor will not have their votes missed in the larger scheme of things.  I’d rather treat people as adults in terms of information access than continue with the paternalistic, less-than-benevolent despotism of the media, whose own motives have come under question.


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Polling: news-making/filler in 24-hour news cycle.

RushBaby on September 23, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Yes please!

carbon_footprint on September 23, 2008 at 11:58 AM

If the polls were accurate, we’d have suffered through Pres. Gore and/or Kerry.

Yakko77 on September 23, 2008 at 11:59 AM

I use polling trends to make investment decisions, so I don’t mind the noise.

Vashta.Nerada on September 23, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Will Allah comment on this thread?

tru2tx on September 23, 2008 at 12:00 PM

+1

rockhead on September 23, 2008 at 12:02 PM

The early release of exit polls is ridiculous anyway. Know why the “Kerry’s gonna WIN!” polls were so wrong? Because they were released middle of the day. Most Republicans vote after work. Most Democrats… eh, well, they vote early and then try to vote often, since they don’t have that burden of having to be somewhere for 8 hours.

Red Cloud on September 23, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Supposedly, failures in the past suppressed voter turnout in California during Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid and in the Florida panhandle in 2000.

Well, Jimmy conceded the 1980 election before polls closed in California, Alaska, and Hawaii, so its hard to blame the release of polls in that case…

Vashta.Nerada on September 23, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Enough already with the minute-by-minute polling!

sinsing on September 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM

How about a ban on releasing polling data without internals? It seems that any idiot could get up on a soapbox and say, “my guy is winning! Yay! By 55%-45%!”

cthulhu on September 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Polls are designed to make the race interesting…that is how you sell advertisements.
The only polls that are important, we never see, they are the ones that the candidates pay big bucks for.
The rest is just fluff, keeps everyone in the game.
If it ever opened up to a 15% lead for either candidate, the public would yawn, go back to work and not watch the news.

right2bright on September 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM

LOL….all Federal judges issue injunctions against this ‘ban’ at the same time. How do you ban a company from reporting on peoples opinions without ripping up the Constitution into itty-bitty pieces?

Limerick on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Hmmm… something to think on…

I know Conservatives in California who don’t even bother to vote a lot of the time, because Polls show that their votes won’t matter… BUT…

If there are enough of them, it could make a difference.

Kinda like the Polls here in Colorado this year… anecdotaly, in my neighborhood (Highlands Ranch, burbs of S. Denver) I do not see a SINGLE Obama sign, yet multiple McCain signs… and yet Obama is supposed to be leading here by a bit…

I’m not saying that Polls should not be covered, but they seem to be getting way more attention than they deserve.

Romeo13 on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

I’ve never been polled after voting, but I doubt if I’d tell anyone how I’d voted anyway.

anniekc on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Polling numbers are great, especially for us junkies who eat this up all day every day. As stated here repeatedly and in other places, at best they are only indicative of trends. And most of us know that there is really only one poll that matters, the one in November.

That being said, I even catch myself hitting up RCP repeatedly during the day, my eyes automatically focusing on that upper right corner, smiling when one is gaining, cringing when going down. Kind of like those closing laps in a NASCAR race; you know “your guy” has a full tank of fuel and fresh tires, and the one he’s racing with is about to run out of fuel or blow a tire, but he keeps gaining, maybe taking the lead out of turn 4 every other lap. And a wreck or other caution throws all that out the window.

Man, I need a LIFE! LOL

JamesLee on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

There seems to be some disagreement let’s take a poll on this…

right2bright on September 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM

I’m all for it. Although isn’t asking in the first place technically a poll?

And do we honestly care if Allah comments on this post? (Hey, there’s another one…) He’ll just say something negative and then praise the Dems like he always does…

Spanglemaker on September 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM

Treating people like adults?

You must be a wing-nut.

Next you’ll be suggesting that our little baby children fighting in Iraq are as adult as the heroic thirteen-year-old womyn who bravely assert their womynhood by aborting their fetuses without talking to their parents!

/snark

ClintACK on September 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM

As long as I don’t have to apy for it. It’s their time, their money.

davidk on September 23, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Obligatory Exit Question: Will there be poll to determine if people want polls banned?

amerpundit on September 23, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Not everything published by the New York Times is worthless,………

Ummmmmmmmmm………………… yes it is.

Seven Percent Solution on September 23, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Time to ban polling?

Polling should definitely be banned as should be scales, stock market reports and calenders.

MB4 on September 23, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Most people understand the issues surrounding polls, including question biases, unbalanced samples, and margins of error.

Most people don’t… most people here probably do, but for the general public, alot of those issues are too complicated. Unfortunately, unless you as a smart voter are willing to take a look at the biases, errors, sampling rates, and a myriad of other factors, basing any major decision on a poll or sequence of polls is stupid.

Canadian Imperialist Running Dog on September 23, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Polls are just as biased as the news, in some cases more biased. There is not a single polster I have much trust in.

Maxx on September 23, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Exit polling in 2000 and 2004 was clearly flawed and should have made skeptics out of all of us. I am doubtful about the accuracy of current polling due to the so-called Bradley effect.

I made the point on a different thread here that pollsters are about as reliable as meteorologists. However, unlike the weather, election outcomes can be changed by reactions to poll information.

Terrie on September 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Polling numbers are great, especially for us junkies who eat this up all day every day.

JamesLee on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

But the numbers you see aren’t accurate, they are designed to keep the race close…they are meaningless.
You can tell real polls (internals) by how the candidates are acting, and their schedules.
McCain numbers are a little down, they want Palin out in front of people, not raising money. They realize how important it is she does well in the debates.
Biden’s numbers will go down, you will see less of him in the public making “off the cuff” remarks.
The internals obviously show that Obama comes off a “out of touch” when he strays from the canned speeches.
Obama’s in trouble with women, look who is behind him at every “rally” they place almost exclusively women and few minorities. His internals obviously say he is losing ground on the women vote.
The poll number are useless to us, what is useful is how the candidates are changing their positions, because of their polling data.

right2bright on September 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Every poll is BS.

The only poll that counts is the one one election day.

All polsters are snake oil manufacturers and the media are the snake oil salesmen.

TheSitRep on September 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Let’s take a poll to see if we should ban polls.

carbon_footprint on September 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Let’s take a poll to see if we should ban polls.

carbon_footprint on September 23, 2008 at 12:14 PM

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need a poll about taking a poll before the poll to ban polls.

Limerick on September 23, 2008 at 12:15 PM

Obligatory Exit Question: Will there be poll to determine if people want polls banned?

amerpundit on September 23, 2008 at 12:09 PM

I’m not sure. Let’s take a poll.

*eats*

Grue in the Attic on September 23, 2008 at 12:16 PM

It wasn’t the polling that suppressed voter turnout in the Florida panhandle in 2000. It was first that the networks had declared the Florida polls closed, causing a lot of people on the way home from work to go home instead of to the polls.
It was also the declaration that Gore had won, based on incomplete polls.

MarkTheGreat on September 23, 2008 at 12:17 PM

MarkTheGreat on September 23, 2008 at 12:17 PM

Can we say Rather and CBS?

Limerick on September 23, 2008 at 12:20 PM

I don’t mind election polling. At least that reflects what people actually plan to do.
The thing I hate is the news polling, between elections, when it becomes a ‘news’ story to announce what a poll says about public opinions that the news outlets are trying to shape.
It’s really nothing more than marketing research for the networks. “How did we do in getting across the message that Bush let New Orleans drown?”

MayBee on September 23, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Jazz is a nanny stater. He votes for guys who want to nationalize the oil industry. :P

I agree with you Ed. Markets are only free when we have access to information and anything else smacks of government intrusion, which ultimately only ever screws things up. Start trying to regulate polling data and corruption will follow. At least now we know how biased pollsters are (in particular the polls conducted by organizations like the NYT and CBS) and can take anything they say with a grain of salt.

NotCoach on September 23, 2008 at 12:21 PM

I just read that Naomi Wolf diatribe and subsequent comments so I’m having a little trouble with the phrase, “native common sense of the American electorate.”

Quisp on September 23, 2008 at 12:21 PM

It would seem that a little thing like the Constitution would prohibit the banning of polls.

Oh, wait we shreaded that over the weekend, didn’t we?

gstrickler on September 23, 2008 at 12:22 PM

How about we ban polling AND CAMPAIGNING? Candidates can release position papers via the web, or direct mail, and then everyone (including the media) has to shut the heck up until election day.

(Only half-joking)

Farmer_Joe on September 23, 2008 at 12:23 PM

How about a ban on releasing polling data without internals? It seems that any idiot could get up on a soapbox and say, “my guy is winning! Yay! By 55%-45%!”

cthulhu on September 23, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Banning all polls would be unenforeable. However, a requirement for poll internals would pull the mask off manipulative poll results.

There should be a requirement for audits and penalties for publishing manipulated results. That would reduce the number of polls and increase their quality.

Right_of_Attila on September 23, 2008 at 12:23 PM

I’d say let all of this information be free and allow people to absorb it themselves. People who decide not to vote because the polls don’t look to be swinging in their favor will not have their votes missed in the larger scheme of things.

I don’t understand this position, Ed. On one hand, you say that exit polls are so important that they should not be embargoed until the polls close. Fine. But on the other hand, you castigate the exit polls for being unreliable — which, in the case of 2004, they were. Fine. But aren’t these two positions in tension? If the polls aren’t reliable, they aren’t very probative of election results. They’re certainly better than running “man on the street” interviews all day long with people anecdotally reporting on “high turnout in neighborhoods that support Obama,” but not by much. So why contaminate the process with exit polls and risk a repeat of Florida in 2000 (where a margin-tipping thousands of Bush voters stayed home because of the “early call” for Gore) or Jimmy Carter in 1980?

Outlander on September 23, 2008 at 12:24 PM

How about BAN polling on HA?

Naa Allah loves those things.

upinak on September 23, 2008 at 12:26 PM

I’ve never been polled after voting, but I doubt if I’d tell anyone how I’d voted anyway.

anniekc on September 23, 2008 at 12:06 PM

Twice for me. Lied both times.

BobMbx on September 23, 2008 at 12:28 PM

The same thing is going to happen this year as happened in 2000 and 2004. The network news teams, in the tank for the Democrats, will race to hit the airwaves with the news of each state that goes to Obama, with only exit polls as evidence. And they’ll hem and haw about the states that go to McCain. Their moods will brighten when Obama is ahead in the electoral count, and dim when he’s behind.

Americans: Go out and vote. Vote for the candidate that you think is best. Don’t listen to the news teams. They are trying to influence you, and you owe it to yourself not to let them. Go out and vote.

stivv on September 23, 2008 at 12:28 PM

Exit polling in 2000 and 2004 was clearly flawed and should have made skeptics out of all of us. I am doubtful about the accuracy of current polling due to the so-called Bradley effect.

No, exit polling from 2000 and 2004 proves that the Republicans stole the election! After all, if all the polls before the election, and all the polls after the election say the Democrats won, then fraud must have played a role. Besides, how could the Republicans possibly have won with all the dead, double, & dog voters casting their ballots for the Democrats?

/sarc

Browncoatone on September 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM

problem is this is the type of thread losers start.

jp on September 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM

I am tired of the incessant polls. That said, they do affect my mood on any given day. I wish we could just have them released once a week.

HawaiiLwyr on September 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM

please, please ban them… I hate them with a passion and have never believed or taken anything from them… they’re useless…

Kaptain Amerika on September 23, 2008 at 12:32 PM

Will Allah comment on this thread?

tru2tx on September 23, 2008 at 12:00 PM

LOL!

freeus on September 23, 2008 at 12:33 PM

How about BAN polling on HA?

Naa Allah loves those things.

upinak on September 23, 2008 at 12:26 PM

Ban-Poll, as in a poll to ban someone? I’m for it….

*eats*

Grue in the Attic on September 23, 2008 at 12:36 PM

In Kenya, Raila Odinga commissioned some falsely-weighted polls shortly before the election, which he then used as his basis for the claim that the election was rigged when he didn’t win.

So much of what happened in Kenya is similar to the left here in America. I still have some questions I’d REALLY like to ask Dick Morris about his involvement with the Odinga campaign.

I do think polls are ripe for manipulation, and the public needs to be made aware of that. For instance, I read over at Free Republic an explanation that some of the polls ask the respondents to give their names and/or place of work. Those polls consistently show higher numbers for democrats (and I can imagine that would be even more so if/when votes for unions aren’t blind).

I’ve wondered why Obama seems to have pulled ahead when nothing would really account for it. But without knowing the small details like whether names were asked, it only confuses us. Obama wasn’t doing well at all when the polls showed him behind. I wouldn’t put it past pollsters to skew them so he would stop losing his cool. The public should know how easily that can be done, and pollsters should publish the details of the polls.

justincase on September 23, 2008 at 12:36 PM

I have to admit, every time I’ve been polled (never about national politics, though), I purposely give off-the-wall responses. Just to mess with them, because they would always call at the oddest times.

I don’t believe in polls, because I know I’m not the only one frakking with the system. Unfortunately, I also know people who treat them as if they’re the Gospel Truth. Face-palm.

Anna on September 23, 2008 at 12:37 PM

Exit polls show Kerry by 4.

tarpon on September 23, 2008 at 12:38 PM

No need to ban polls… just require “truth in advertising” style disclaimers.

“All poll data is subject to error and may not reflect actual voter opinion. Anyone who suffers serious side effects, such as drafting legislation based on this poll should immediately seek medical attention.”

taznar on September 23, 2008 at 12:39 PM

Just and observation…

Who here was condemning any poll that came out in favor of McCain since the convention, huh? The more in favor it was, the louder we all cheered. Since the polls turned against us I see a steady stream of “bah, screw the polls. They’re all wrong/ bias/ over-sampling Democrats/ don’t matter/ etc.”

Here’s what’s bothering me about the polls. Everyone want to back a winner, so rather than vote with their brain, conscience, or personally feelings; swing voters are likely to shift with the wind. The bigger problem is that early/ absentee voting in starting and Obama is ahead in the polls. So, swing voters now may vote even prior to the debates on nothing but following the perceived crowd. That would be bad, once we start counting in Nov.

Leave the polls alone, but shorten the campaigns. Say 6 months for primaries, 6 months for the GL. Anyone campaigning before that is disqualified. Spread the debates out and ban any voting until after they are over.

Having voting before the debates is downright stupid.

Damiano on September 23, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Is it time for the media, both new and old, to declare a [moratorium] on releasing poll numbers?

Not going to happen.

/thread

toliver on September 23, 2008 at 12:42 PM

How about BAN polling on HA?

Naa Allah loves those things.

upinak on September 23, 2008 at 12:26 PM

That’s one argument in favor.

am tired of the incessant polls. That said, they do affect my mood on any given day. I wish we could just have them released once a week.

HawaiiLwyr on September 23, 2008 at 12:31 PM

Here’s an idea for Hotair, at least.

Tommygun on September 23, 2008 at 12:43 PM

I’ve been polled a coupla times in the last year and a half, and I always lie to them. None of their business for whom I’m voting or which party I belong to.

I don’t mind the incessant polling, but I like the screaming from the other side because their magic candidate isn’t 20 points ahead by now.

TeeDee on September 23, 2008 at 12:45 PM

Black pollster comes to your door…”Would you vote for a black man for president?”…uhhh, yeah, sure, why not…
White Pollster comet to your door…”Would you vote for a black man for president?”…uhhh, yeah, sure, why not…
So goes the south…

right2bright on September 23, 2008 at 12:50 PM

Without polls, AP would have to make up stuff or pass along DU or Kos info. Now he can hide behing seriously flawed polls to spread his “vision”.

Fuquay Steve on September 23, 2008 at 12:50 PM

I dunno, maybe we should take a poll?

GarandFan on September 23, 2008 at 12:51 PM

Before we do anything rash, we need to calm down and look at this issue scientifically.

We must have a poll on banning polls.

And don’t you dare stoop to the level of supporting poll banning on polls on banning polls.

Loxodonta on September 23, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Who you callin’ Joe Sixpack? If I could see straight, I’d kick yur a$$! Right mah?

Right pah!

Mr_Magoo on September 23, 2008 at 1:00 PM

The candidates will continue to poll heavily in any case, so it’s always good to know what they know, but are not likely to tell us.

RBMN on September 23, 2008 at 1:00 PM

They should have nixed polling right after the Clintonistas were done stinking up the White House. For eight straight years, we were subjected to polls on how all was oh so wonderful with Bubba Billy, even when he was in the process of being impreached!

pilamaye on September 23, 2008 at 1:02 PM

I used to weight statistical samples. Let me re-phrase: I was used to weight statistical samples. That is all the detail I will give for fear of my old age pension

As a mathematician co-worker once said in his broken english ‘junk all junk’

The sample counts given in polling all have small numbers that sound like actual counts. Actual count samples give really bad results until you weight the crap out of them.

A bad result is something that you don’t like

And listening to a ‘customer’ talk about the need for weighting to fix unrealistic results is like listening to a demon talk about the need for truth

entagor on September 23, 2008 at 1:02 PM

Having voting before the debates is downright stupid.

Damiano on September 23, 2008 at 12:40 PM

Not if your initials are BHO.

Mr_Magoo on September 23, 2008 at 1:02 PM

Like they said polling makes a dull political process seem like a horse race.
It’s a simple way for the MSM to act like there’s news instead of doing their jobs. Just another nail in the coffin of the MSM.

Iblis on September 23, 2008 at 1:20 PM

My alltime favorite Election Day exit poll result came from ABC News in 2000, where they found that Al Gore won 59% of the high school dropout vote. Second on my list is the 2004 exit polling, which showed that the evil Bush won both the people with “some college” and also won the vote of those with Bachelors degrees.

Del Dolemonte on September 23, 2008 at 1:20 PM

I wish that if they won’t ban polling they would at least limit the number of them gawd every time I turn the tv on or read a newspaper (even the little local ones) there is a new poll anymore I just hit the mute button or turn the page fast.

tee866 on September 23, 2008 at 1:23 PM

MB4 on September 23, 2008 at 12:11 PM

Good to see you back, might just have been my failing vision but I didn’t see you the last couple of days.

I tend to somewhat question the accuracy of polls. The questions can be slanted as can the demographics and without anything to back it up I get the feeling that people are lying more and more to the pollsters. Having said that I see no need to do away with them, just take them with a grain of salt.

TooTall on September 23, 2008 at 1:31 PM

It springs from a patronizing opinion of the American voter that suggests that Joe Sixpack won’t vote unless he feels it the equivalent of the climactic moment of an episode of 24.

Of course Joe won’t vote unless he gets something out of it! It’s not like there is any intrinsic value in freely voting for your choice of candidate in a democratic republic without fear of intimidation or recrimination (unless you live in certain Democratic strongholds in inner cities).

m064404 on September 23, 2008 at 1:40 PM

I love polls. Sorry but I think they are soooo fun. And when McCain loses I want to be prepared. I don’t want it to be a surprize.

petunia on September 23, 2008 at 1:41 PM

There seems to be some disagreement let’s take a poll on this…

right2bright on September 23, 2008 at 12:07 PM

I’m game! Let’s do it!

petunia on September 23, 2008 at 1:42 PM

To be honest, I think the only people that really benefit from the constant use of polls are the polsters. It is a regular industry. That does not mean they should be outlawed or anything. I do not think they serve any real public service, however.

Terrye on September 23, 2008 at 1:42 PM

Supposedly, failures in the past suppressed voter turnout in California during Jimmy Carter’s re-election bid and in the Florida panhandle in 2000.

It has always bothered me that people would dare to not vote after I’ve told them what I want from them. Damned disrespectful!

snaggletoothie on September 23, 2008 at 2:01 PM

I think we need to ban polls by people who can’t speak English, at least enough to be understood. I was “telephone polled” yesterday, and after saying “I can’t understand what you’re saying” about six times, I gave up and hung up.

Guess they’ll put me down for Obammy.

dinobalz on September 23, 2008 at 2:03 PM

I loathe polling with a passion reserved usually for cockroaches.

I loathe the way polls are reported even more.

This constant blithering narrative that attempts to portray polling data as a form of continuous measurement that models a ‘horse race’ view of the campaigns. He’s up by 4, then down by 2, roaring ahead by 13, tanking by 10….utter bollocks.

Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks.

Shite.

LimeyGeek on September 23, 2008 at 2:08 PM

I educate my high school science students on the scientific accuracy of polls (i.e. there is none).
Obviously a good poll can give important results. But because of the bias in which polls are constructed & given,one can never be sure of their accuracy.
Think about how many times you hear something causes cancer right behind how the same thing supposedly will cut your risk for cancer in half?!
But I do believe there are so many morons out there who actually believe them. I know people personally who think that STAR magazine, People, Enquirer,MSNBC,CNN, etc is full of truthful newsworthy info.
Puhleeeeaazze!

Badger40 on September 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM

A number of years ago, CNN had this up as “news“:

57% of the American public believe Osama Bin Laden will be killed/captured within the next 12 months.

Excuse me; WTF???? etc. What the hell is the relationship between what people believe and reality?

alwyr on September 23, 2008 at 2:25 PM

If reporters did more serious reporting, polls would be the side show, not the main event.

Unfortunately, “coverage” has morphed into speculation about the future course of events, embellished with pop-psyche analyses of newsmakers and public alike. Throw in a couple of man in the street 20 second spots, and you’re good to go. It’s a cheap as news production gets, and boy do we get cheap “news” as a result. Polls are practically the only snapshots left of where we actually are at any given point in time. They’ve become the substance of the reporting that they once informed and the fodder for yet more predictions, regardless of how flawed the last predictions were.

JM Hanes on September 23, 2008 at 2:26 PM

Badger40 on September 23, 2008 at 2:15 PM

I always laugh when I hear the term “scientific poll”.

Yeah…real scientific….requires a PhD in Counting

LimeyGeek on September 23, 2008 at 2:26 PM

I ran into a poll just yesterday, yes, ban them.

kirkill on September 23, 2008 at 2:36 PM

oh, that’s poll, not pole!

kirkill on September 23, 2008 at 2:36 PM

never mind.

kirkill on September 23, 2008 at 2:37 PM

Apparently, 64% of Americans expect that I will give a flying monkey turd about anything they have to say.

LimeyGeek on September 23, 2008 at 2:58 PM

And, obviously, polls are great for journalists, bloggers, radio hosts and television talking heads since they give us something else to chatter about while we wait for the next debate or monstrous gaffe…..
……
Polls that use bad samples and questionable methodology will eventually get exposed

Well Ed thanks for a different perspective on polls, especially since AllahPundit has so obsessively posted them here.

You the bloggers, are the one that need to expose the bad samples and questionable methodology, instead of just letting it float by our brains as raw data every day.

By viewing your blog every day we expect you to do raw data crunching, because frankly, that’s your job.

And SPARE ME the:

“Not-everything-published-by-the-New-York-Times-is-worthless, and not everything aired by Fox is brilliant”

….ass kissing gag line!!

Trying to imitate the Politico is not your cup of tea, so please stick with your real job.

Or else, you will have to be send to the Ass-Kissing-Anonymous and Allah to the Poll-Pundit-Anonymous clubs!!

Why don’t you quote Rush’s commenting on Wizbang’ analysis of the polls?

Mcguyver on September 23, 2008 at 3:01 PM

I do not have time to read all the posts above so sorry if this a repeat.

I am volunteering at phone bank in a local house campaign (Go Zeldin 08!) As a result of my experience I really have began to question the accuracy of polling. I have read articles about this problem but to see it in action is amazing.

This is just a wild guess totally based on anecdotal evidence … however I only connect with callers about 10-20% of the time. Many have block calls from unknown numbers and the vast majority never pick up the phone. The only demographic that regularly picks up their phones are the elderly. I guess they are not up on the technology like caller id etc so they pick up the phone. Heck maybe they want the phone calls.

peterargus on September 23, 2008 at 3:12 PM

Around here there’s apparently some weird rule about telemonkeys having to pay for a call if it rings more than three times. Most of these surveys call during the evening and interrupt dining/family time. The family-oriented culture around here doesn’t like that, so they ignore the call unless it rings 4 or more times. This will tend to skew the interviewees towards democrat folk.

LimeyGeek on September 23, 2008 at 3:26 PM

To all the people saying “Ban polls”, are you just venting at how stupid they are? Or do any of you seriously advocate making them illegal or regulated?

Please tell me it’s just the former, as the latter would seem to be an abomination as far as conservatism is concerned. Like Ed says, I think we are grown ups – if our society needs the Gubmint to prevent the big bad pollsters from improperly raising or lowering our morale, then maybe we really DO need a nanny state to run our lives.

But I think most of you are just venting, so I should probably settle down and get off my soapbox.

RINO in Name Only on September 23, 2008 at 3:30 PM

polls should be banned 50 days from elections

grapeknutz on September 23, 2008 at 3:35 PM

And apparently, my reading comprehension sucks, which is another way of saying I barely read the post at all, since it seems they are talking about a voluntary moratorium on polling.

RINO in Name Only on September 23, 2008 at 3:39 PM

About a month ago I think it was Rassmussen whose daily tracking poll had Obama ahead by a couple of points but their poll with one of the networks had McCain ahead by a few.

They reported both polls as accurate and analyzed them as such.

29Victor on September 23, 2008 at 4:40 PM