How polling poisoned the political well

posted at 11:01 am on November 8, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

Has political polling reached the end of the line? While some won’t find it as terribly shocking anymore, the polls in Kentucky which had previously been considered among the most reliable missed the Bevin win in the governor’s race by a wide margin. This wasn’t the first time either. The last few cycles down there saw the Bluegrass Poll taking one hit after another and they responded this week with something of an apology.

The wide gulf between the results of Tuesday’s election races and the most recent Bluegrass Poll is a source of frustration for the Herald-Leader and its media partners as well as for our pollster — Survey USA — especially after a similarly huge difference in last fall’s U.S. Senate race.

As a result, we are rethinking our approach to election research and plan to make changes for future campaigns. Depending on how we proceed, we will look for a new research firm and no longer will use Survey USA.

The Herald-Leader and Survey USA aren’t likely the problem here. Nobody else who was regularly polling the race did very well either, and that’s not some sort of rare exception. The polling system seems to be getting more and more erratic. And yet it remains the gospel for political reporting in both the old and new media. Jonah Goldberg has an op-ed this weekend which is definitely worth a look and he’s not just questioning the methodology of a couple of outlets. Ending reliance on polls could give politics back to people.

But the thing I find most intriguing about Bevin’s victory is that his opponent, Jack Conway, had led in all the polls for pretty much the entire race.

“What’s ironic,” writes National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar, “is that coverage of political campaigns is increasingly dependent on the polls, even as the polls themselves are increasingly flawed. The tenor of the presidential primary is being dictated by the daily stream of horse race polling. Credible candidates are being left off the main debate stage because of miniscule differences with some opponents in national surveys.”

It’s a national, and international, trend. The polls underestimated the scope of the 2014 midterm elections. Elections and referenda in Greece, Poland, Britain, Israel and Scotland embarrassed the pollsters who thought they knew what was going on.

Jonah goes on to quote Karlyn Bowman of AEI who speculates that this could be “the end of polling as we know it.”

That may prove to be a bit hyperbolic, but would it really be so bad? Jonah makes a valuable point in noting the effect that national polling (which has fluctuated wildly from one survey to the next over the fall thus far) has had on the debate process and, secondarily, on the election as a whole. Putting Trump and Carson on the main stage is a no brainer, sure, but after you get through three or four more ambiguously defined second tier candidates you find yourself in a swamp of people who are all polling within the margin of error of each other. The difference between who is put on the “main stage” and who goes to the warm-up game (or who is left out entirely as will happen this week) is minuscule in terms of numbers of respondents, yet could have a major impact on their chances.

But as I’ve fretted over before, the effects of such massive reliance upon and distribution of polling probably run a lot deeper than that. Candidates who are getting consistently low poll numbers tend to take those data samples and turn them into a self fulfilling prophecy. Voters are less inclined to support (or donate to) somebody they perceive as a loser while the bandwagon effect no doubt helps those who are riding high in the surveys. If there was still some element of mystery as to where the electorate was heading on any particular day, a particularly good speech or breakout moment in a debate could take somebody from worst to first, or at least give them a better fighting chance at it.

Voter turnout is also historically affected by polls. When the media is telling you day after day that your candidate has already lost the election, why bother to get up and go vote when you could stay home and mow the lawn? Polling is a great tool for those of us who talk or write about politics for a living because it gives you something to analyze and virtually limitless material for speculation and interpretation. But are we feeding a democratic death spiral by relying on them so heavily?

I’ll close with one more comment from Jonah.

You can argue that following the polls is democratic, but it’s a cheap and shallow form of democracy. We are also a republic, and in republics leaders are expected to do what they think is right, not just popular.

Toppling the tyranny of polls would put arguments back at the center of politics. And that’s as it should be.

It’s that and much, much more. This ties into what is referred to in science as The Observer Effect, which states that it’s nearly impossible to measure something without changing the thing being measured. The advent of modern polling seems to be crippling the process it was intended to analyze.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

…you get the results you pay for!

JugEarsButtHurt on November 8, 2015 at 11:05 AM

Polling relies on landlines, which are fast becoming obsolete. There has to be a new methodology for conducting polls.

rbj on November 8, 2015 at 11:07 AM

Since 2000, polling always shows the liberal leading, until they lose.

I thought everyone knew this already.

faraway on November 8, 2015 at 11:07 AM

We are also a republic, and in republics leaders are expected to do what they think is right, not just popular.

Well Jonah, I feel so much better now. I understand that our leaders are just doing what they think is right.

arnold ziffel on November 8, 2015 at 11:10 AM

We have one poll it called voting day, may the best man win.

djohn669 on November 8, 2015 at 11:11 AM

Jazz you know you just made Allah start drinking and kick his cat, don’t cha?

Limerick on November 8, 2015 at 11:12 AM

HA would have half as many posts if not for “polls”……

d1carter on November 8, 2015 at 11:13 AM

The polling on NRO must be terrible…heh.

d1carter on November 8, 2015 at 11:14 AM

I have a landline and if I do not recognize the number I do not answer …

conservative tarheel on November 8, 2015 at 11:16 AM

I live in New Hampshire, I still have a landline, and I’ not on any Do Not Call list. Consequently, I get polled a lot. I never respond truthfully.

Racistanyway on November 8, 2015 at 11:17 AM

Voter turnout is also historically affected by polls. When the media is telling you day after day that your candidate has already lost the election, why bother to get up and go vote when you could stay home and mow the lawn? Polling is a great tool for those of us who talk or write about politics for a living because it gives you something to analyze and virtually limitless material for speculation and interpretation. But are we feeding a democratic death spiral by relying on them so heavily?

You make it sound as if that’s a bug and not a feature to certain people, including some of those commissioning the polls.

If the busted margin-of-error results were random — i.e., if there were as many cases of blowing polling by saying the Republican was going to cruise to victory when instead the Democrat ends up winning — then you’d have a case that new technology such as cellphones have made traditional polling methods obsolete. But you’re not seeing that. There was one poll in the 2012 cycle right before Election Day that had Romney in the lead, but for the vast majority of busts, it’s always the Democratic candidate who’s over-estimated, while the Republican either comes back and wins or barely loses, as with the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election.

That ongoing constant suggests that polls are not going away any time soon, or at the very least until it becomes blatantly obvious that voters have completely lost trust and interest in polling numbers due to their inaccuracy. As long as the big media outlets paying for the polls not only see them as ways to generate stories, but by tweaking the polling samples or the wording of question, see them as a way to direct public sentiment in their preferred direction, they’re going to keep trotting out the polls as an in-kind campaign contribution.

jon1979 on November 8, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Funny that in most -not all, but most- cases, the polling overestimates the position of the media’s preferred candidate.

It’s about weighting. The polls are skewed through weighting to get the results desired by the pollsters. Interestingly, climate science is conducted the same way.

BKeyser on November 8, 2015 at 11:29 AM

The thing is I never answer the phone if it’s a number I don’t recognize. I have seen numerous times some committee or organization calling, maybe taking a survey or even a poll. So, I’m not even counted in these polls and I know ALL my friends and family do the same thing, they just ignore that call. So, who IS answering the phone?

TeaTrekkie on November 8, 2015 at 11:31 AM

I’ll close with one more comment from Jonah.

You can argue that following the polls is democratic, but it’s a cheap and shallow form of democracy. We are also a republic, and in republics leaders are expected to do what they think is right, not just popular.

I vehemently disagree with his characterization of a Republic. The fundamental idea of a Republic is that power is invested in the people, not the government. How is that accomplished? From Rome to today, the answer has been separation of powers and the rule of law. Our Founding Fathers very explicitly based the law on the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

Our leaders are not to do what they think is right. It is their sworn duty to obey the people within the strictures of Natural Law. A conservative would know this already.

Fenris on November 8, 2015 at 11:31 AM

As a result, we are rethinking our approach to election research and plan to make changes for future campaigns.

.
Translation:”We’ll have to find a less embarrassing and blatant way to give Dems another pre election boost in the future”

Dr. Carlo Lombardi on November 8, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Is there I poll on this I can reference?

Kraken on November 8, 2015 at 11:35 AM

I have a land line and three different polling groups call me at least once and sometimes three or four times a month. I NEVER answer the questions honestly just to screw with the idiots.

Most of the time the questions answers are predetermined by the wording of the questions.

How many others do the same.

1791 on November 8, 2015 at 11:43 AM

The cell phones light up when called and I push the hang up if it’s from an unknown number. When I had a land line the polls drove me crazy calling at all hours.

mixplix on November 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Here is my approach to polls…

I was in WallyWorld yesterday with a 40 inch Samsung TV in my shopping cart. I walked by a table and two guys approached asking me which service I use to get my TV programming.

“I don’t watch TV.”

Neither of them had a response.

Limerick on November 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Toppling the tyranny of polls would put arguments back at the center of politics. And that’s as it should be.–Jonah Goldberg

Sour grapes. Goldberg would never be complaining about polls if Bush or Rubio were now in the lead.

Goldberg has tarnished his reputation for years to come as just another NRO stooge who supports the Establishment. His opinions these days don’t matter like they did during the Bush years when he wrote Liberal Fascism.

There’s a widespread populist revolt in the country that doesn’t come through if you just watch the pretend conservative pundits on the pretend conservative media. Thank God for polls that show that more than 50% Republican voters want a true outsider this time, because the pundits and their spin aren’t right anymore.

Burke on November 8, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Most political polling is tainted trash . . . or more accurately, mathematical garbage designed to influence rather than inform.

rplat on November 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM

You live by the poll, you die by the poll.

As more and more of us who are fed up with Dem-led government and either don’t answer or lie on the answers, the more the polls will continue to skew.

After all, we don’t know who is actually recording the answers and if our name is being stuck in a database someplace on the “pick up first come the Revolution” list.

And of course, the trust in them will continue to decline as more people realize that polls don’t reveal any “truth”.

It will become much like weather forecasting….close, but no cigar. Heck, not even that close.

ProfShadow on November 8, 2015 at 12:09 PM

Phone polling is dead.

Everyone I know screens their calls. If an incoming call blocks or obfuscates caller ID, the call doesn’t get answered. If the caller isn’t someone we know we want to talk to, the call doesn’t get answered. In our house, we’ve turned off the landline ringer completely except for the kitchen phone at low volume. Anyone we’d want to talk to would call our cell anyway. I sometimes wonder why we keep the landline….but it’s good for one thing. It’s kinda like keeping a Hotmail account for junk mail so your real account doesn’t get hammered.

ElectricPhase on November 8, 2015 at 12:10 PM

Since 2000, polling always shows the liberal leading, until they lose.
I thought everyone knew this already.

faraway on November 8, 2015 at 11:07 AM

It’s good to know that we can expect Trump to massively underperform once the voting actually starts.

Excellent117 on November 8, 2015 at 12:11 PM

Polling is free speech and free press combined and it isn’t going away. Handling the debate stage is not a polling problem it’s a media/party problem.

Polling is like govt in that they more it fails, the more we demand it do. Over time, people will learn that polling isn’t a lock on what is happening in voters’ minds. Polls do tend to catch trends and implosions and are useful in that regard.

Meremortal on November 8, 2015 at 12:18 PM

It’s good to know that we can expect Trump to massively underperform once the voting actually starts.

Excellent117 on November 8, 2015 at 12:11 PM

It’s good to know you are freaked. People pillory those they are worried about and ignore those they feel don’t have a chance.

Meremortal on November 8, 2015 at 12:23 PM

We have one poll it called voting day, may the best man win.

djohn669 on November 8, 2015 at 11:11 AM

That one is rigged, too.

Rix on November 8, 2015 at 12:26 PM

It would be really funny if the uptick in the purchase of antacids due to Trump was unnecessary.

Cindy Munford on November 8, 2015 at 12:31 PM

I have a landline and I do answer the phone. Most often long enough to hang up on a telemarketer trying to sell me a something I don’t want or need. If it’s a pollster, they get a nasty greeting and the sound of the phone hanging up.

Andy__B on November 8, 2015 at 12:41 PM

It’s good to know you are freaked. People pillory those they are worried about and ignore those they feel don’t have a chance.

Meremortal on November 8, 2015 at 12:23 PM

Freaked? Far from it. He either doesn’t get the nomination and we’re a better country for it (the most likely outcome), or he gets the nomination, loses the general in spectacular fashion, and candidacies like his are doomed from the start going forward. Now am I slightly depressed about the fact that so many people are blindly committed to a man like Trump? Certainly. But I’m hardly “freaked” about his campaign.

Excellent117 on November 8, 2015 at 12:42 PM

Here is my approach to polls…
I was in WallyWorld yesterday with a 40 inch Samsung TV in my shopping cart. I walked by a table and two guys approached asking me which service I use to get my TV programming.
“I don’t watch TV.”
Neither of them had a response.
Limerick on November 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

Now this made me laugh. Thanks for my chuckle of the day. :)

karenhasfreedom on November 8, 2015 at 1:02 PM

I live in New Hampshire, I still have a landline, and I’ not on any Do Not Call list. Consequently, I get polled a lot. I never respond truthfully.

Racistanyway on November 8, 2015 at 11:17 AM

That’s probably where most polling goes on, in the Northeast. That way the poll results will typically tilt left. I’m in the South and have never been polled.

rickv404 on November 8, 2015 at 1:04 PM

Limerick on November 8, 2015 at 11:45 AM

They just think you are really generous and wish they were on your Christmas list.

Cindy Munford on November 8, 2015 at 1:07 PM

The phenomena of call-screening is a real one (like everyone I know, I simply never answer my phone to unknowns), but clearly there are SOME people out there who answer their phones to any random caller.

Busy adults with a low tolerance for time-wasting carp are the least likely to answer pollsters, I would guess. Which is a good descriptions of conservatives as a group, BTW.

So who are they, these “yes I will gladly spend the next 15 minutes of my life which I will never get back answering your pointless questions” people?

My suspicion is that its young people who have grown up with a smart phone permanently grafted onto their hand- I know some who spend the vast majority of their non-working time communing with their phone in some way. Maybe THEY are the ones who can’t bear to let a call go unanswered.

There is some large degree of *I Am The Center of The Universe* involved too, I think, because one would have to be convinced that giving a perfect stranger my exalted opinion is a meaningful activity in the first place.

Dolce Far Niente on November 8, 2015 at 1:57 PM

Most political polling is tainted trash . . . or more accurately, mathematical garbage designed to influence rather than inform.

rplat on November 8, 2015 at 12:00 PM

“Polling” is not done to report on public opinion any more, it’s done to shape public opinion. And since the majority of “polling” is done by the Democrat Media, their “polling” is designed solely to advance the Democrat Party Line, much like how Dr. Goebbels manipulated the media to keep the Germans loving Hitler in the last years of World War 2.

Some prime examples of how the Democrat Media has used “polling” to advance the Democrats:

1. During the Chimpy Bush Presidency, the C-BS/NY Times “poll” regularly sampled 15% to 19% more Democrats than Republicans in order to achieve their desired result. The goal? Drive Chimpy Bush’s job approval numbers down. They succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

2. After the 9/11 attacks, several “polls” asked respondents which President they blamed more for those attacks happening-Bush or Clinton? When the results showed that more people were blaming Clinton for 9/11, that question was never asked again and was vanished down the rabbit hole.

3. And after O’bama and Biden single-handedly killed Osama bin Laden with their bare hands, the Associated Press (or as I call them, “al-AP”), did a “poll” to pump up O’bama’s job approval after that epic event. He got a modest 5% bump upwards.

But if one actually delved into the internals of that al-AP “poll”, the data showed that their “polling sample” used twice as many Democrats as Republicans. And yet even with such a horribly dishonest skew, they could only get O’bama’s numbers up by 5 points!

4. In 2006, CNN (Clinton News Network) suddenly dumped their longtime polling partner, Gallup, and replaced them with ORC. ORC was founded and was run at the time by a dude named Vinod Gupta. Vinod was/is a major Clinton donor and groupie; it got so bad that he eventually had to leave his own company because his pro-Clinton bias was so blatantly obvious.

Del Dolemonte on November 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

“The advent of modern polling seems to be crippling the process it was intended to analyze.”

Just ask Schrödinger’s cat.

I’ve long been convinced that polling is simply the direct product of lazy journalists. IE: Don’t do research and analysis of policies or issues. Simply commission a poll, and BINGO; an instant story that becomes the story about the media story that commissioned the poll, and the ‘lets you and he fight’ drama inherent therein.

Good for ratings. Bad for the electorate hungry for substance.

GALLUP has all but admitted their methodology is so flawed as to be worthless, and has declared it will not do primary polling for 2016.

locomotivebreath1901 on November 8, 2015 at 2:09 PM

The Herald-Leader and Survey USA aren’t likely the problem here. Nobody else who was regularly polling the race did very well either, and that’s not some sort of rare exception. The polling system seems to be getting more and more erratic.

I call B$. The polling people are getting fat and lazy that’s what is going on at least here in Kentucky. They continue to over sample Louisville and Lexington and very rarely go outside of those two population concentrations and think they are getting a reasonable poll result.

The reason that shows up here in Kentucky so much and not as much in other States is the rural areas of the State have more than enough Moderate voters to overcome the Liberal Democrat strongholds in the Cities. Most States are not like that.

Johnnyreb on November 8, 2015 at 2:13 PM

I have a landline, I am on the National Do Not Call Registry, and I get polled all the time. I stopped answering their questions a long time ago for several reasons.

1. A lot of “polling groups” are shills for telemarketers. Once you’ve talked to the pollster, the telemarketers can legally keep your phone ringing nonstop because they can claim a “prior relationship”, thereby circumventing NDNCR.

2. If you protest (1), their usual response boils down to “F**k you- we contribute to All The Right People (meaning Democrats), so nobody’s going to lift a finger against us. NOW GIVE US ALL YOUR MONEY, NOW!!” It’s a Nigerian 416 scam on steroids.

3. Even the pollsters who aren’t trying to phone-spam you are engaged in “push polling”. They’ll ask the same question eight to ten times, phrasing it differently each time, trying to get you to give the answer they’re getting paid to get. 99% of the time, the answer they want is “Yes, I’m OK with whatever the progressive agenda is“. F**k that sh!t.

4. Automated polls are the most annoying. They call over and over again and never give you any chance to opt out.

The only sensible response to any pollster today is tell them to put you on their do not call list, and hang up. For automated ones, just hang up.

Polling has never been an honest profession. Today, it’s about as “honest” as a three-card monte dealer in Times Square.

clear ether

eon

eon on November 8, 2015 at 2:24 PM

have a landline, I am on the National Do Not Call Registry, and I get polled all the time. I stopped answering their questions a long time ago for several reasons.

eon

It has been my observation for years that most Conservative voters just hang up when they are called. I do and my private “poll” disclosed that all of my Conservative friends do as well. Since I don’t have any Liberal friends I can’t comment on their phone habits, therefore, based on my poll 100% of voters don’t respond to polls.

E9RET on November 8, 2015 at 2:40 PM

When polled I always answer exactly opposite of my opinion.

Grunt on November 8, 2015 at 2:48 PM

Both links above in Jazz Shaw’s article lead to the Herald-Leader article. To read the article by Jonah Goldberg, try this:

http://tinyurl.com/nm7w29q

UPNorthWolf on November 8, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Sure fire method to get off the polling lists:

Tell them you’ve just been convicted of a felony and can no longer vote.

allmenroder on November 8, 2015 at 3:29 PM

Hmm.. Here’s how ‘polling’ may be working houses like us — our landline gets all sorts of junk calls every day that we rarely answer. When we do answer these calls, most have politics of some sort involved. And we say ‘sorry, busy right now’.

A lot of this is related to our total disgust with the RINOsaurs and RNC direction — we just don’t want to talk to them anymore… And any polling calls that we might get are caught up in our disgust with the GOP LOSERship.

Then there’s probably the true blue union households, who may answer every call and tip polls to the blue.

And then there’s those who’ve no longer got landlines and don’t answer calls from ‘unknown’ sources.

So the net result is polling is becoming more and more inaccurate. If polls go away for the most part, no big loss.

There seems to be a trend on more politics and issues in social media (like Facebook) where stuff can’t be easily filtered by the left wing media’s political bigotry. Also common sense “comments” are available that can help counter lots of liberal nonsense that the PRESSSidential media would otherwise protect from comment…

drfredc on November 8, 2015 at 3:32 PM

Rubio at 11%: “How polling poisoned the political well”

Rubio at 27%: “With 27%, experts consider Rubio as likely nominee”

Nephew Sam on November 8, 2015 at 5:56 PM

WHO gets called at a convenient time in order to suffer though the bullshit of “polling”?

The “answers” are predetermined and limited in scope.

OTHER – isn’t an option.

Too bad our ballots, listing the candidates for various offices can’t also have a “NONE OF THE ABOVE”.

GarandFan on November 8, 2015 at 6:32 PM

One thing that’s overlooked is that most people have caller I.D. on their phones. Polling companies generally don’t put their names out so we get Unknown, out-of-area, etc. I don’t answer those id’s so I really have no idea how many polling companies have called me.

bflat879 on November 8, 2015 at 7:03 PM

Sometimes you just can’t lie enough.

All data can be manipulated, especially when the govt or it’s interests are involved.

Lie enough about someone being front runner / winner and it MAY generate some more interest / votes in that candidate.

Sometimes it doesn’t generate enough and the outcome doesn’t match the lies and you end up with all of these “OMG Upset!” moments. When in reality, the genuine will of the people never matched the polls in the first place.

Oxymoron on November 8, 2015 at 8:18 PM

Everyone should lie to pollsters. Lie wildly, and often.
I plan to tell every pollster that I’m wholeheartedly in the tank for Cankles.
Stop feeding the professional polling machine.

After all, what will they do? Fire us all? Take the electorate to court?
**** ’em.

orangemtl on November 8, 2015 at 9:31 PM

I have a land line and my cell phone. It has gotten to where my clients know to call on the cell. Very few call the land line. In fact, I get very few personal or business calls at all on the land line. Consequently, everything that came in on it before the election was either polling, political robos or run of the mill insurance and charity solicitations. I often go a week without checking voicemail. Most are hang-ups. When I happened to answer it, I have taken to telling pollsters that I don’t talk to pollsters and disconnect. Yeah it skews the stats. Why the hell do I care?

ironked on November 9, 2015 at 9:29 AM

I’ll close with one more comment from Jonah.

You can argue that following the polls is democratic, but it’s a cheap and shallow form of democracy. We are also a republic, and in republics leaders are expected to do what they think is right, not just popular.

I vehemently disagree with his characterization of a Republic. The fundamental idea of a Republic is that power is invested in the people, not the government. How is that accomplished? From Rome to today, the answer has been separation of powers and the rule of law. Our Founding Fathers very explicitly based the law on the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God.

Our leaders are not to do what they think is right. It is their sworn duty to obey the people within the strictures of Natural Law. A conservative would know this already.

Fenris on November 8, 2015 at 11:31 AM

Probably off-topic… but still very interesting for a bit of political philosophy discussion.

Over the years, I have found myself agreeing mainly with you, Fenris…but sometimes shifting to Mr. Goldberg’s view at times.

Generally, Fenris, I was with you whenever people who were in power that I diaagreed with.
And, generally, with Jonah, when people were in power that I agreed with what they were doing.

These days…I find myself adopting more of the “Goldberg” view above… but it is strange because the Democrats (and Republicans!) in power right now are pretty much doing nothing I agree with (and everything I disagree with).

I think the shift, for me, has more to do with ‘maturing’ in my own understanding of conservatism…and taking the long view. (That is not at all to say that the view you express above is immature or incomplete… just different from the direction my own philosophical journey has taken me).

So, I would submit, that the Founders were wary about Democracy. And I find myself sharing that wariness. I don’t think elected officials are simply meant to be proxy votes for the mob (which is why the Founders worked so hard to lessen or eliminate the Tyranny of the Majority where they could).

Now… that being said… I think our Republic is broken. But not because of how it was set-up…simply because we no longer produce actual statesmen. And there is little we can do to change this.

But, as a matter of principle, I believe that when we elect an official to Represent us – we should strive to choose someone that we think will make the best decisions. And not simply throw our support behind someone who we think will vote exactly they way we want them to vote all the time.

RightWay79 on November 9, 2015 at 11:56 AM

If the busted margin-of-error results were random — i.e., if there were as many cases of blowing polling by saying the Republican was going to cruise to victory when instead the Democrat ends up winning — then you’d have a case that new technology such as cellphones have made traditional polling methods obsolete. But you’re not seeing that. There was one poll in the 2012 cycle right before Election Day that had Romney in the lead, but for the vast majority of busts, it’s always the Democratic candidate who’s over-estimated, while the Republican either comes back and wins or barely loses, as with the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election.

That ongoing constant suggests that polls are not going away any time soon, or at the very least until it becomes blatantly obvious that voters have completely lost trust and interest in polling numbers due to their inaccuracy. As long as the big media outlets paying for the polls not only see them as ways to generate stories, but by tweaking the polling samples or the wording of question, see them as a way to direct public sentiment in their preferred direction, they’re going to keep trotting out the polls as an in-kind campaign contribution.

jon1979 on November 8, 2015 at 11:21 AM

Funny that in most -not all, but most- cases, the polling overestimates the position of the media’s preferred candidate.

It’s about weighting. The polls are skewed through weighting to get the results desired by the pollsters. Interestingly, climate science is conducted the same way.

BKeyser on November 8, 2015 at 11:29 AM

“Polling” is not done to report on public opinion any more, it’s done to shape public opinion. And since the majority of “polling” is done by the Democrat Media, their “polling” is designed solely to advance the Democrat Party Line, much like how Dr. Goebbels manipulated the media to keep the Germans loving Hitler in the last years of World War 2.

Some prime examples of how the Democrat Media has used “polling” to advance the Democrats:

Del Dolemonte on November 8, 2015 at 2:05 PM

RTWT for examples

The phenomena of call-screening is a real one (like everyone I know, I simply never answer my phone to unknowns), but clearly there are SOME people out there who answer their phones to any random caller.

Busy adults with a low tolerance for time-wasting carp are the least likely to answer pollsters, I would guess. Which is a good descriptions of conservatives as a group, BTW.

So who are they, these “yes I will gladly spend the next 15 minutes of my life which I will never get back answering your pointless questions” people?

My suspicion is that its young people who have grown up with a smart phone permanently grafted onto their hand- …

Dolce Far Niente on November 8, 2015 at 1:57 PM

Carp are almost all time-wasters. ;)

AesopFan on November 9, 2015 at 8:04 PM