Polls, Polls, and more Polls
There was a new poll that came out today which showed Obama’s lead increasing over Romney by 3%…except it isn’t. So how can this be? Well it’s pretty simple. The poll purposefully oversampled Democrats versus Republicans by a full 11%. The excuse given was that the polling agency believed more Democrats than Republicans would be voting in November. Therefore, they felt it necessary to adjust their samples accordingly. However, no evidence was provided to back up why they believed this to be the case. In an ironic twist a separate poll actually shows that Republicans are more fired up to vote than Democrats this time around. Polls are nothing more than numbers and as such are easy to manipulate to give whatever results are sought after. Saddam Hussein was famous for having an approval rating of 98-99% at all times. Does anyone seriously think his polling was honest? Both political parties tend to do poll manipulation so this truly is a bi-partisan issue.
There are actually two types of polls. The first type is the internal poll. These are paid for by either the party or the candidate and tend to be both accurate and closely held. These polls are necessary because politicians want to have an honest assessment of how they are doing so that they can adjust strategies and allocate resources accordingly. The second type of poll is the propaganda poll. This is the type of poll like we see above. These polls are purposefully designed to provide a specific set of result via a variety of methods. Some of these methods include manipulating the wording of the questions asked, the weighting of the response values of certain respondents, or through adjustments to the sampling used.
Let’s face it, if you surveyed 100 teenagers and ask if any of them have had ever tasted alcohol before, it’s easy to make the results look as if most teenagers are binge drinkers. If you survey 100 women and 100 men, but give twice the weighted value to the women’s responses versus the men’s it would be easy to think that shopping is far more important than football. If you didn’t weight the values but instead sampled twice as many men as women you could easily reverse the outcome. Unfortunately, the results have little value for anything other than propaganda. Polling showed that Carter was going to beat Reagan in 1980 all the way up until a week before the election, but the results were a landslide victory for Reagan. Propaganda polls attempt to create a false reality, but can’t replace true reality.
Ultimately, the most important poll won’t happen until November. Until then the most reliable poll available is the wallet. People tend to vote for their wallet far more than for any other reason. Based on that polling, Obama has a huge problem. People’s wallets are shrinking so fast that the net average value has decreased by 40% since Obama took office. Canadians are now wealthier as a whole than Americans. In the mean time politicians and the media will attempt to get us to think all sorts of ways via polling numbers. The best thing to do is ignore the polls and figure out for yourself what you truly believe and more importantly to understand why you believe it. That way when you get polled in November, you’ll already know what your own response will be.