It seems every couple of days we get a new presidential poll. It shows, almost without fail that Hillary Clinton’s once insurmountable lead is deteriorating; that Donald Trump is surging and Ben Carson, while keeping pace is still behind. It shows that mainstream GOP “politicians”, those guys that do it for a living, are slipping farther and farther behind. And it shows that some socialist wacko from Vermont is proving to be one of the biggest upset victors of all.
And what if the polls were all dead wrong?
Hey, it’s happened. And Bloomberg has a tremendous article detailing such a problem this week. The polls have been wrong in Israel, they’ve been wrong in Greece, they were wrong in 2012 when Mitt Romney sat in his hotel suite and cried when he learned he’d actually been beat, after relying on polls that told him he was going to win. And the Democrats learned the hard way less than two years ago when the polls all said the GOP would have razor-thin leads in the most states for Senate seats, and the GOP won every single one of them.
Why is it wrong? That’s really the question the pollsters are asking. Actually, they’re quaking in the boots. Every since George Gallup started polling political races correctly in 1935, the political poll has become a part of American life. And that has spread to the rest of the world. But the way Gallup did it in 1935 and beyond really can’t be done anymore.
It used to be that we’d get a phone call on our landline, which we’d dutifully answer. And there would be a polite lady or gentleman on the other end explaining they were taking a political poll, and it would only take a couple of minutes. Hey, we love to help out so sure…we’d take it. That’s how it worked. Not today.
Today, we all have cell phones. Landlines are going to the way of the printed magazines and newspapers. They’re dinosaurs. Today, we check our cell phones’ caller ID, and if we don’t recognize the number, or the number is blocked, we let it go to voicemail and we’ll deal with it later, if at all. You can’t trust phones as a source for polls anymore.
And can you really trust the internet polls? The pollsters will tell you yes, but I’m here to tell you as someone who takes surveys online every single day, that they’re not accurate. People can lie through their teeth online (more so than in a telephone interview or in person), and the other dirty little secret is, you only get one shot of a telephone poll. Online, you can take the same survey dozens of times. I know, because I have! Hey, if they’re willing to pay me $1 to spend 10 minutes with them, and I’ve got the time free, and they’re stupid enough to let me take the survey 87 times, I’ll do it!
Unless and until the pollsters come up with a better way of polling people, something more technologically sound than 80-year-old telephone surveys and internet surveys that aren’t very scientific or very accurate, we’re going to see weird polling results that turn into something other than the truth on election day. That’s just the way it goes in the modern age.
In other words…Hillary Clinton may only have 1% of the vote, and it may really be Lindsay Graham leading the GOP field for all we know. Such a world!
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!