If memory serves, I first became concerned about polling earlier this year as I watched the Democratic battle for the presidential nomination. There were so many polls in the field all the time, I figured it would be hard to live in, say, New Hampshire, and not
get polled once or twice a day.
And, with the two parties' conventions over, it's getting worse. Time was, Gallup would do a poll, and that was about it. But now you have a new poll (or two or three) released every day, and with sometimes-conflicting results.
Just this past week we've seen polls on this presidential race that show everything from an eleven-point Bush lead
to a one-point Bush lead
in between. Couple that with confusing and conflicting internals (sometimes the pollsters push leaners, sometimes they don't; Gallup has an unbelievable difference between registered voters and likely voters
). Sprinkle in some sampling error--like how pollsters miss cell phone users
and people who screen with caller ID. Toss in focus groups
and you have a morass of data that, in the end, may be useless.
Why is that? These are all national
polls, and, as much as we may hate it
, elections are decided on a state-by-state basis. Plus these national polls usually don't include Michael Badnarik
and David Cobb
, even though they will be on far more state ballots than Ralph Nader
, who is
included in the polls.
So, what say you? Would it be better to leave the polling to just once--election day--and just one method--the ballot box? Or do you like being buried under this mountain of data that may or may not accurately reflect the state of the race? What is this polling good for, anyway? Allez debate, mes amis.
Jay Bullock, Iron Blogger Democrat