As Mitt Romney sadly found out, those that live by the poll(s) often die by the polls. Or are at least surprised when the poll is so very wrong.
An opinion poll, sometimes simply referred to as a poll, is a human research survey of public opinion from a particular sample. Opinion polls are usually designed to represent the opinions of a population by conducting a series of questions and then extrapolating generalities in ratio or within confidence intervals
November 3, 1948: President Harry S. Truman, shortly after being elected as President, smiles as he holds up a copy of the Chicago Tribune issue prematurely announcing his electoral defeat. This image has become iconic of the consequences of bad polling data.
Every day we are bombarded with the results of one poll or another. Some are reputable and may be worth our attention. Others? No.
Not worth our attention are the online polls so prevalent and so much touted by the winners of these hugely flawed polls. One such would be the Drudge poll. This one is so flawed by the swarming of alt-right Trumpanzees that it’s laughable. But the Trump campaign and it’s hugely flawed candidate are boasting about it. Not surprising in a man who boasts about so much. What is surprising is the number of gullible people that believe him and the polls. Many of whom were among the swarm.
If you want to find out how easy it is to create an online poll just search out “online polls” and in seconds you have information on how to create your own. Are you/we/me pollsters? Seeming so if it’s all that easy.
It isn’t that easy, or that cheap to create a real poll. One that is worth paying/giving some attention. I check the gallop poll and the RCP poll for myself. When some other reputable polls are presented I pay some attention. Some. I remember all too well that there were some reputable polls that showed Mitt Romney defeating Obama in 2012. Did they just poll people who were wishful thinkers? A lot of my trust in polls was defeated along with Mitt.
Polls often show a candidate getting a “bounce” after one event or happenstance or something. I enjoy picturing Hillary and Trump “bouncing”. Not in the polls, just bouncing on their fat butts. But then there are times when I am easily amused.
According to those that rate the polls:
The outcomes of both political and marketing polls — and whether or not the public trusts the results — are influenced by many factors, including polling technology, how the question is worded, the perception of who is asking the question, when and how the polling sample is drawn, and who agrees to take the poll (the responders) and who decides not to (the non-responders).
I have never been called to answer any poll and would happily offer my opinion. That’s because I tend to be opinionated. I would not agree to answer a poll on something with which I was unfamiliar or ignorant. Such as a new car. What I don’t know about new cars would fill the massive void in Donald Trump’s head or the enormous hole in what passes for Hillary Clinton’s integrity. But that’s just me. I know far too many people that never let their ignorance get in the way of their opinion.
By far the worst kinds of polls, according to experts, are the Internet polls or magazine surveys that appeal to only those with a vested interest in the question. “They are worthless, except for the purpose of idle entertainment.”
Don’t you love it when “experts” confirm your opinion?
Donald Trump is closing the gap! Hillary Clinton is up by double-digits! Gary Johnson has almost qualified for the debates!
Individual polls make for flashy headlines. They draw clicks. They will not tell you who the next president will be. There are many polls, some of which are highly respected, tracking Trump vs. Clinton in 2016. But which polls accurately track the truth is tricky. And relying on even the most reputable poll, on its own, is never advisable.
The best way to follow who is winning the presidential election is to follow polling averages. These poll trackers weigh polls based on their historical accuracy and methodology, average them together and produce a far more reliable picture of the election.
This is why many people trust the RCP polls, because they are averages.
There are others that swear by the odds makers in Vegas. The idea is that they’re spending money and there fore to be trusted to make the best “guess” to make the most money. At least that’s the theory.
Whatever the results the fact is that we seem to have become addicted to polls. Being human we tend to like the polls that support our opinion or candidate and mistrust those that don’t. It’s human and it’s also something many of the polls, especially the online junk polls count on.
We all have our opinions. At least most of us do. I’m always stunned by the “have no opinion” response to something, but then as I admitted, I tend to be opinionated.