Suppose your polling company gets hired by a political party. You know who they favor, and you want more of their money. How can you skew the polls, but still give them truthful “talking points”? You can’t just say “Would you vote for this fine, God fearing candidate, or the other sides’ lowlife sinner?”

But you can ‘shape’ the result.  How can you do it, while still meeting their conditions of a nationwide poll of at least 2,000 potential voters?

It is easy! All we have to do is define our terms:

Nationwide: OK, one place in the West, one in the Center, and one in the East.

2,000 potential voters: No going to cemeteries or grade schools, like the old days.

If they want one result, your poll takers go to Berkley, California, certain parts of Chicago, and the Harvard Yard in Boston. For the other result, they go to places like an auto parts store in Eastern Oregon, a farm supply store in southern Illinois, and a hunting/gun Show in Alabama.

Your poll shows, with a high degree of certainty, that their candidate will win the popular vote in a landslide! In fact, his staff should start looking for homes in the D.C. area! Happy times for all!

This party touts the nationwide poll, asking 2,000 potential voters who they would vote for. They come back to you each week, asking for another poll, which you are happy to do — for an even higher price! Who is going to win? YOU WILL ! You can buy a big boat and a new SUV, for cash. Who will win the election? The person the people elect.

There is only one poll that counts — when "We the People" cast our votes.

Seth Nadel

Apache County

(7) comments

ronzim

This letter has nothing whatsoever to do with scientific polling.

pxllr

Another factor in polls is the polls are conducted on land line phones. How many still have land line phones? Another common polling is direct mail. How many actually respond to those direct mail polls? Still another is standing by an exit from a store or event and asking people their opinions. The people responding to these polls are in predefined groups that are not likely to actually represent Americans as a whole. Polls are only as good as the population they poll. And those in that populations that are willing to respond to that poll. So how accurate are polls? Answer, not very accurate at all!

ronzim

Pxllr: Your criticisms are on the mark because you are referring to non-scientific polling. My comments have to do only with scientific polling. There is a world of difference. Nate Silverman’s ‘538’ organization has conducted a review of major polling entities and has rated the following pollsters all as ‘B’ or better. Marist college earned an ‘A+’: Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc., Public Policy Polling, YouGov, American Research Group, Quinnipiac University, Marist College, and Emerson College. The range of accuracy in predicting elections (one of the hardest jobs) was 81%-90%. It is clear that scientific polling produces highly accurate results, even in the parlous business of making predictions about future outcomes, which are highly volatile even in the short term.

As responsible citizens, it is up to us to be diligent in selecting those sources of information which are highly reliable and have proven track records over time. I have taped to my screen a list of pollsters and fact checkers which I have vetted and keep up to date. Doesn’t everyone? Why not?

scubagal

McIntyre of Real Clear politics says his purported objective is "to give readers ideological diversity.”(8) Note: the goal of most polls is to produce a scientific analysis of public opinion.

* However, some statisticians say that it is sometimes misleading to average results from multiple polls. (27) This process produces a slanted opinion, not a poll.

It is done to normalize results when vote tallies have been adjusted by the counters.

2rusty

Thanks, Seth Nadel, for prompting a discussion on polls. They are total nonsense for exactly the reasons you illustrate. Don't be discouraged by the naysayers!

ronzim

2rusty: Please list the scientific polls which are wrong and the specify the info which is in error and what the correct data are along with your sources. No? Thought not.

Bryand

You mean the same 538 that gave hillary a 90% chance at winning. That great scientific democrat think tank? Heck why not use new york times next time? Smh. Lets see Rasmussen was one of few besides la times morning consult that got it right in 2016. Face it. There is no " scientific " polls. They are a guess at best.

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