Diary

What are Polls for, When No One Listens Anymore?

A poll is in essence like checking your blood pressure.  You use it to register the health of something on which to be voted.  As such, everyone has a vested interest in the outcome, whether for or against someone or something.

Retail politicians use polls to decide what to say or to support an opinion.  They rely on accurate polling when the point of the poll is to articulate a position.  When, though, it comes to elections, polls are a tool to influence them.

Lopsided polls suppress voter turnout.  If you think your candidate is going to lose or win whether you vote or not, many people do not vote, believing they are unnecessary or irrelevant.  If one poll is lopsided, sometimes other polls are used to dispute the lopsided poll.

Statisticians are best at using math to measure a result, not predict an outcome.  If you poll 10 meteorologists on the weather next Saturday, you will get a majority opinion, but whether it is accurate is another question.  In political polling, the closer you get to an election, the higher the odds that you are getting an accurate result.  That is why exit polling is viewed as a fairly reliable indicator.

If polling is accurate, it helps candidates for office to raise money.  [mc_name name=’Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’R000595′ ] is objectively rising in the polls.  The Bush and Trump campaigns have reasons to contest his rise, but nonetheless, it is hard to argue with hard evidence.

A good politician wants an objective poll to help them figure out their own strengths and weaknesses.  Strong in Iowa and weak in New Hampshire, but why?  Where are voters focused and what do I need to communicate?  The Republican Party needs to have some more objective polling out there because the inherent bias in most pollsters is thick in favor of the Democratic Party.

I was one of the unlucky ones who wanted to believe that polling was dead wrong in 2008 and in 2012.  And I was one of the lucky ones who wanted to believe that polling was not right in 2010 and 2014.  In all four cycles, there were some huge misses.  So what good are polls for now?

I think we have reached a point where accuracy has to be measured by who is asking the questions and for what purpose.  In terms of the Republican Party, we cannot trust organizations that are not Republican.  In terms of the general election, we need to have our own polling engines and publish our own results.  I would love to see RedState get involved in something like this, as it is past time we take Nate Silver, CNN, etc., out of the equation.