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HISTORICAL QUOTE OF THE WEEK - "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other." ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

ELECTION 08 - CAN THE POLLS BE TRUSTED ?

2008 has finally arrived and the primary season is in full swing with Iowa upon us soon to be followed by Wisconsin, New Hampshire and South Carolina. While who will receive the nomination is still very much up in the air for both parties, polling for the General Election seems somewhat suspicious.

Every poll has Hillary and/or Obama winning and many winning big against every GOP candidate with the exception of John McCain. Though I can see the McCain angle against Hillary since he has consistently been in opposition to much of the GOP platform and tends to lean left of moderate in some areas, I sincerely question the results showing a Democrat win against the GOP

My first instinct comes from many years of following politics and the historical aspect of a Presidential election. This makes me question the polling sample because of two factors that I do not believe that the samples are including as well as the area of the country where the samples are taken.

First - Since Abraham Lincoln a President has never been elected without winning in the South. One example that comes to mind that additionally proves the reality of this is the 1960 election. Kennedy added Johnson to the Democrat ticket in order to win in Texas and this with a South that at the time was a Democrat majority in most Southern States.

Since then the South has changed dramatically with every Southern State now a Red State and leaning more to the conservative side of the political spectrum. This equates to the South NOT voting for a liberal Hillary or a liberal Obama. Remember Gore could not even win his own home State of Tennessee in 2000 and in 1996 Clinton narrowly won Arkansas a State that Gore Lost in 2000 also.

The logical conclusion then is that the polling samples for the General Election pitting Hillary and Obama against the GOP candidates are sampled from the left Coast or the Northeast where Democrats still hold majorities when it comes to Presidential elections. This then does not present an accurate polling for the entire country just the segments that Democrats poll better than Republicans.

Second - As with most polling I always question the actual percentages in the polling. Consistently when polling samples are broken down and the number of Democrats polled as compared to Republicans, "amazingly, " the percentage of Democrats polled in a General Election poll is always several, (sometimes double digits), percentage points higher then the number of Republicans polled.

Additionally questions in polling samples are skewed to get a response that meets with the politics of the pollster. I was a regular polling sample for the Zogby poll and in every poll that I participated in, every question presented me with an answer that did not follow my political beliefs or my true response for either the issue or the candidate. That is why I requested to be removed from their sampling.

This , "scientific, " method of polling is seldom accurate. For example in the 2004 Presidential Election, polls before the election had John Kerry comfortably ahead of President Bush or in a statistical tie with Kerry leading by 3 - 5 percentage points. The Exit Polls taken throughout the day as voters left precincts around the country had Kerry winning by a landslide and of course as we know Bush won comfortably.

Polls very seldom if ever have the ability to accurately predict any election. The only poll that ever counts is the one that provides the real voting results on Election Day. Voters when polled may say one thing and vote another when they actually face the responsibility privately in the voting booth.

The same will hold true during the primaries. While polls now may have certain candidates leading, when voters are in the booth and must vote their own conscience and beliefs the actual vote count may very well surprise the analysts and the pundits who live and die by polls with actual results being far different then the current polls are showing.

At the end of the Election Day it is what the voters say in the polls that count and not what the pollsters say with their, "scientific, " polling methods that more times than not are geared to match a political agenda rather than the voice of the people.

Ken Taylor

3 Comments:

Blogger Marie's Two Cents said...

I never get polled Ken.

I was wondering about all this myself, I'm glad you posted this
:-)

I had wondered if it was the way the question was phrased as to the outcome of the poll itself.

I guess that's why I dont pay much attention to polls.

2:14 PM, January 02, 2008  
Blogger Conservative Chic said...

I don't put too much stock in polls. Who decides who gets asked? Where do they find these people?

I'm with you Ken, votes count, not polls.

10:08 PM, January 02, 2008  
Anonymous Seth said...

Polls are too easily shaped by such factors as chosen participants and leading questions.

Great post, Ken.

5:16 AM, January 04, 2008  

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