Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Energy, Foreign Policy, Health Care, Immigration, Taxes, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Skepticism is Good, The American Pollsters, Trusting the Polls
Gallup, the most well-known brand in public opinion voting, announced on October 7, 2015 that they would no longer poll Americans on who they would vote for if the election were held today. Let others focus on predicting voter behavior, Gallup would dig deeper into what the public thinks about current events. Reason magazine reported:
Still, Gallup’s move, which followed an embarrassingly inaccurate performance by the company in the 2012 elections, reinforces the perception that something has gone badly wrong in polling and that even the most experienced players are at a loss about how to fix it. Heading into the 2016 primary season, news consumers are facing an onslaught of polls paired with a nagging suspicion that their findings can’t be trusted. Over the last four years, pollsters’ ability to make good predictions about Election Day has seemingly deteriorated before our eyes.
The day before the 2014 midterms, all the major forecasts declared Republicans likely to take back the Senate. The Princeton Election Consortium put the odds at 64 percent; The Washington Post, most bullish of all, put them at 98 percent. But the Cook Political Report considered all nine “competitive” seats to be tossups—too close to call. And very few thought it likely that Republicans would win in a landslide.
It seems that voters told the pollsters one thing, and when they voted, they did something else. After the 2012 election there was the Israeli election, and a virtual tie was predicted, yet Netanyahu’s Likud party won a plurality and picked up 12 more seats. Then there was the British election which they got completely wrong as well.
How much are people affected by the polls? In the midst of this campaign, polls are being reported daily, and if you don’t hear the results, Donald Trump will tell you how he is winning. We have been told (I forget the source) that for reporters campaigns are really boring, because they have to listen to the same stump speech over and over, and Mr. Trump provides real interest because you never know what he will say or do.
Is that the reason for the excessive Trump coverage and neglect of other candidates? The Reason article explores some of the obstacles to good research, and some of the ways pollsters are changing, including the use of social media, and ambient noise. Are they including vote fraud in their calculations? There is clearly a lot more fraud than is admitted.
We can’t ignore the polls, but it’s probably wise to look at them with a somewhat jaundiced eye, and look more carefully for solid information about your candidate, so you are a more informed voter, and fare better in the arguments with your neighbor.
2 Comments so far
Leave a comment