Blogs » Politcs Plus » What do you think of polling data?


A couple years ago I was fond of saying " it's not polling data that you are against; it's the results." Those words may be coming back to bite me because recently polling data has been the subject of controversy. I used to have at least ten polling companies bookmarked. I have deleted all of them. I remember the New Hampshire primaries, where Hillary Clinton was six points behind in every legitimate poll out there, but she won handily. Recently, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas was behind in the polls up to the very last minute but the results and exit polling data did not jive because her opponent came out of nowhere, and actually took the lead, encouraging outside forces like the labor unions to support his candidacy; only to find out he was really never that close. I know it is just supposed to be snapshot in time but in recent presidential elections, two or three polls have been right on the money. Every living, breathing politician lives and dies by the polls. The pundits could not survive without quoting poll numbers. I am starting to take them with a grain of salt because it seems like every day we get the results from some brand new polling company with numbers on the issue of the day.

Polling numbers and media hype is really getting my goat. I've heard the financial experts, pundits and their guests talk all week about the job numbers going up this week. Gloom and doom for the administration and the democrats. Believing them, I expected a 10% unemployment figure, only to find out it actually came down to 9.5%.... I know the payroll data shows that many more people are unemployed or many have given up looking for work. The media, administration and opposition party will exaggerate those numbers to prove their point. The administration will say they're pleased that percentage is coming down but they are not satisfied and we must continue to not lose focus. The opposition will say that the stimulus did not work because the administration promised that unemployment would go above 8%. In reality, it's hard to hard to predict what this very slow recovery is doing because we no longer have a strong manufacturing base where purchase orders and falling inventories would be a good barometer. Where is the old media who just reported the stories about the economy, instead of driving the story?

I guess, I started being a real skeptic two or three months ago, when a respected pollster, Charlie Cook, said Senator Harry Reid would never recover from a 40 point deficit in the polls. He has either tied or is leading his opponent. I know Charlie Cook was making a safe assumption, since it has never been done before but nevertheless, he probably should have done more research because being ahead in the state of Nevada is not proof of legitimacy. It just means you're less wacky or a tiny bit more honest than your opponent. Since Harry Reid has been in office a very long time, he should be leading his tea party wing nut opponent by 15 points (even in this political climate) because she is a gaffe machine. Where did they get these candidates and what were they thinking?

I started fast forwarding past the segments where pundits and their guest start giving their opinions on polling data because next month and the closer that we get to the election; they all will be saying something else. Anyway, that's my take. What do you think of polling data? Remember cell phone users are never polled and I bet those poor people living in rural areas aren't either.