After every election, the pundits come out of the woodwork with their analysis of the results armed with a plethora of polling results. If anything, the public and political parties should be skeptical of polling results since 2014 proved many of them dismally wrong. Polling serves an important purpose in elections- it employs people at polling companies. As a snapshot of any particular race, they may serve a limited purpose. But if one looks at the actual final results of particular races and compares them to the polling data, it becomes obvious that these polling companies were woefully off. Of course, some are better than others. And some are definitely biased. For example, one respected website ranks Public Policy Polling as one of the most accurate of the lot. However, Public Policy Polling also happens to be a favorite go-to polling company of the Democratic Party. It is natural to be somewhat biased in telling your “employer” what they want to hear. The reason PPP is considered accurate is because in 2012- the basis of the “accuracy” claim- Obama and Democrats held their own. Thus, polls this year conducted by PPP were given added significance when they rightfully deserved none. And the same can be said for polls conducted for Republican candidates. Although the GOP certainly did actually well, Republican-commissioned polls were woefully off in margins of victory. When some polls were, for example, predicting a [mc_name name=’Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001095′ ] victory in Arkansas by 3 points, Republican commissioned polls had him up by 10 points.
As polling companies attempt to reach deeper into the minds of voters through exit polling, it is important to keep in mind the fact that all polling companies’ claims to accuracy are dubious. They may provide some insight on a broad basis, but on particulars they are not so good. Thus, when we talk about exit polling and gender gaps, or the Hispanic gap, or any other “gap,” it should be taken with a grain of salt.
From a political standpoint, it is important to note that one’s policies should not waver as the next poll result is published. Policy decisions should be based not on polling, but on a principled underlying philosophy. The next time you hear about gaps with respect to demographic groups and polling, think long and hard. We should never sacrifice principle for short term gain based on the most recent poll. That is called pandering, or hypocrisy. Leave that to the Democrats and the Left.