September 22, 2012

On Polls: "Relax don't do it / When you want to go to it."

[Note: This is an extended comment by Scott M to Suppress the Vote! Technique # 1 @ AMERICAN DIGEST]

There is no sense in listening to the polls, following the polls, or trying to guess the outcome of the election.

First, the election is settled state by state. The national accumulated popular vote, which is what the polls attempt to anticipate, is meaningless. Each state will have its vote go to Obama or Romney, whether the candidate wins/loses by one or one million votes. A few states with large populations easily distort reality. Even if everybody in NY and CA vote for Obama, which would distort national popular vote counts, they still account for the same number of Electoral votes.

Second, nobody will know until the Democrats voters show up on Wed Nov. 7 to cast their vote which of these polls turns out to be right. Why let a false conclusion of a poll influence you now? Last time Rasmussen's pre-election polling turned out to be closest to the actual outcome. Before that I think Zogby turned out to be closest to the mark. We won't know which of these polls was right until after the fact. We do know right now that many of these polls will be wrong. We just don't know which will be wrong.

Third, as the news business has gotten more and more dishonest, or at least unmoored from professional standards, polling has used tricks to shade the outcome toward the intended direction. Do you care what 19 people in a Whole Food grocery store parking lot pick for POTUS? Do you know how many people make up the poll you are hearing about? Do you know if these people have ever voted before? It matters a great deal if the poll is sampling people who technically might vote or people that actually did vote last time. Do you know if the polling sampled far more Dems than Reps or Inds? Do you know if the answer has been adjusted to account for a distortion of the sample?

Fourth, the media routinely use reports of polling results, however accurate or not, to signal their audience what they should think. Most people want to be included with the larger group and the media reports are always careful suggest whether their audience should ignore the poll or incorporate the poll data personally.

Michael Medved makes the point no POTUS has ever been reelected to a second term unless his support increased over the support he had in his first election. That's to say, every POTUS reelected gets more votes the second time than the first time or they lose. There is no second term exception in US history. Does anyone think Obama has more support from college kids, black voters, working class voters now than during the Hopeandchange Hurricane of 2008? This doesn't decide who will be the winner in November but it should settle some fears.

Fifth, it will be what it will be. No amount of happiness or despair now will decide anything. It's like worrying if it will rain on your future wedding date. It will or it won't and you can't know in advance. You should prepare for both possibilities.

Lastly, stop watching the media, including Fox. They have 24/7 to fill. That doesn't mean what they put on air is worth knowing. You are in charge of you and you should not let them make decisions for you and your time. Talk to the people around you, don't miss an opportunity for that, but ignore what The Media sends your way. Their job is to convince you that you need to worry and to tune it to get answers. They never provide the answers except to tune in after their 98th commercial of the hour to see if they've answered the concern they've been hawking all day.

The media can't know what it is you probably want to know. They will get the answer about a minute before the rest of on election night. Until then they are guessing.

Now is a good time to note who is claiming what so you can judge their accuracy after the election.

Remember, FOX news is using Karl Rove and Dick Morris as their experts on this matter. Dick Morris of "the election will be between Condi and Hillary" and Rove of "ignore the media GWB, the people will to." Both men have their particular segment of the party they are working for/against. They don't turn that off when they go on Fox. Rove's career will be over if TEA Party types control the party. Morris' vendetta is against the Clinton wing of the Dems. Be wary of anything either man says in those directions.

Overall it's much simpler to just stop watching the media. They don't know any more than you. They just read the same sources you could read and then retell the story on camera. Read it for yourself. That's what a citizen would do.

Posted by: Scott M at September 22, 2012 3:02 PM

Posted by Vanderleun at September 22, 2012 5:00 PM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Wow! Lucid, succinct, articulate. He forwards no agenda, merely suggests we _think_. That is something I don't do enough of, probably none of us do.

Posted by: chasmatic at September 22, 2012 5:51 PM

Thank you Gerard.

Posted by: Scott M at September 22, 2012 6:54 PM

A lot of pollsters show up at my house, and reaming them a new sphincter has been the only source of joy this political season.

Posted by: Jewel at September 22, 2012 7:43 PM

For "meaningless" polls, that's a lot of meaning!

Posted by: RPF at September 23, 2012 4:10 AM

Those Democrats showing up to vote on Wednesday, Nov. 7 could be an encouraging bit of news, though.

Posted by: David at September 23, 2012 5:52 AM

Those Democrats showing up to vote on Wednesday, Nov. 7 could be an encouraging bit of news, though.

Posted by: David at September 23, 2012 5:53 AM

This is a very good essay. It is always good when a clear thinker throws some cold water on an overheated situation.

Posted by: Lorne at September 23, 2012 6:23 AM

The "experts" pontificating on the political scene are suspect and annoying. Morris is the broken clock that's right twice a day. If you read all of his predictions he would definitely be Nostradumbass. Rove has definitely outlived his expiration date.
The ones that trip me out are Mary Matalin and James Carville. Supposedly they are vehement party advocates and activists for opposing worldviews. Their marriage reminds me of the sheepdog and the wolf cartoon. They beat the crap out of each other until the whistle blows and then punch out. "See you tomorrow, Ralph" "Okay Joe".
In reality the political class has its own nonenklatura , playing a kabuki theatre to keep the fat checks rolling in. They're all unprincipled blowhards running a scam.

Posted by: bill at September 23, 2012 8:59 AM

All good advice. I just can't stand the fixation on polling, especially during presidential elections. Pundits and bloggers get desperate to know the future and obsess on polls.

There are a lot of good reasons to believe Obama will lose this election, no matter what the polls say or someone claims. But he could win, and its almost entirely out of our control. Show up, vote, and go home. You've done your duty and its in God's hands.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at September 23, 2012 10:35 AM

An extremely perceptive essay. I am sending the link to my family and acquaintances who are worried about November.

I added some thoughts of my own here.

Posted by: Donald Sensing at September 23, 2012 10:59 AM

A quick search showed me that even CNN doubts the wisdom of having our votes counted overseas by the Spanish firm SCYTL:
SCYTL self-proclaimed the security of its systems, but when the machines were used in the District of Columbia, the University of
Michigan fight song "The Victors" was suddenly heard after the casting of each ballot. The system had been hacked by U of M computer teachers
and students, in order to demonstrate their susceptibilities.

The fix is in.

Posted by: mjazz at September 23, 2012 6:29 PM

It is EXACTLY like 2004, except the parties have switched sides. Romney is John Kerry.

But that might be a good thing. All the shiite is going to hit the fan in 2014, and will land in Obama's lap. Of course what he does when the shiite hits the fan is another story.

Oh wait, the world is suppose to end Dec 21, so don't worry be happy.

Posted by: Mike at September 23, 2012 6:37 PM

And here comes Mike the "Concerned Troll" popping in again to try to throw cold water on people supporting Romney and coming out in force to throw the Worst President Ever out of office, before he manages to, mostly via Executive Orders, ruin this country foreever.

I would add to Scott's excellent list: Ignore faux conservative or faux libertarian posters who come to conservative sites and spout bulls--t like "Romney is Kerry," or "Romney will just be Obama-Lite, so why bother," etc.

It's just an attempt by one of the Obamunist's useful idiots to try to discourage turnout.

Posted by: southernjames at September 24, 2012 1:51 PM

Dick Morris, now of faux news, formerly Bubba Clinton's whore-mongering toe sucking slimebag apologist.

Posted by: Tom Doughy at September 24, 2012 4:52 PM