In reading Nate Silver’s NY Time’s article on exaggerated polls, I realized that I’d never (consciously) in my adult life been subject to a political poll. So, who are the people that are actually being polled? As a kid, I remember (before caller id) answering the telephone at my parents’ house and being given the option by a recorded voice to push either 1 or 2 based on my candidate preference—but I was a kid, I didn’t have a candidate preference. And now my parents, in their 50s, never answer the phone if they don’t recognize the number on caller ID. So how does this whole thing work? If the majority of polling is conducted by telephone, who is actually at home that still has a landline telephone, that actually answers their phones—and actually stays on the line during polling questions?
I don’t believe that the agencies that conduct polling consider the ‘data gathering,’ the actually polling, to be a serious matter. It’s how this data is arranged on a graph that matters. Are polling agencies’ practices monitored? The short answer is no.
Not to pick on one of the most prominent polling agencies (founded by someone who leans right) but Nate Silver in 2010 called the Rasmussen polls biased and inaccurate. It’s obvious, however, that all polls are biased and inaccurate (I’m sure that this can be proven scientifically, kinda), due to the impossibility of securing a politically oriented diverse set of pollees, or a politically oriented diverse set of pollers, for that matter.
Scott Rasmussen, co-founder of ESPN, (which has made quadrillions from talking about talking about (and sometimes talking about) sports, has hit it big with Rasmussen Reports, which sells polling information to news agencies for quadrillions of dollars. But no one checks their data. NO ONE CHECKS THEIR DATA. And the polls change every day, so what data is there to actually check? This is why really smart people in America are able to become exasperatingly wealthy.
Persons who do not have caller ID, perhaps in the more highly politically contested states, who are home for a good portion of their day, who answer their phones, who do not hang up, are the people being polled (when the interns get around to it). I almost got hit by a car, yesterday in New Canaan CT, driven by the same type of person: too old to drive; too old to be polled. And I was in the crosswalk.
Ignore the polls.