Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ohio governor blasts Q-Poll

(Doug Schwartz, Quinnipiac Polling Institute)

This is something that's been bothering me for a while.

There is an alarming trend for pollsters to not only just report the results of a poll they themselves have taken, but to comment and put spin on the results. Additionally, the timing of some polls leads to the suspicion that the pollster may be trying to influence the outcome of the election.

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland (D), which the Q-poll said was trailing by 10 points to his Republican challenger, had this to say (from an AP story):
"With just two weeks until Election Day, it is our opinion that the Quinnipiac polls are irresponsible, inaccurate and completely removed from the reality of the Ohio governor's race," the campaign said in a statement that noted other private and public surveys were showing a much closer contest.
The director of the Q-Poll, Doug Schwartz, responded with a tepid "We stand by our numbers and our overall record for reliability."

Apparently the simple concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy" has never been adequately explained to the man.

The problem with the way polls are conducted is that the timing of the poll can definitely have an effect on the election. And there are essentially no legal repercussions for falsifying results or outright lying about them.

Not to mention how a polling director will sometimes get in front of the microphones and tell everyone exactly how he thinks the election will go.

The fact is, his opinion shouldn't count for anything at all. The idea that a pollster even has an opinion when they're supposed to be totally impartial is ridiculous and hypocritical.

The article continues:
The flare-up underscored a widely held view among both politicians and pollsters that polls, once used largely to help a candidate shape strategy, increasingly can affect the outcome of political campaigns in the Internet Age. Candidates and their allies instantly disseminate bare-bones results, seizing on those that reflect well on their own prospects, ignoring the rest and generally skipping over details that might caution people about reading too much into them.

"They can affect contributions. They do affect news coverage in a substantial way. They can affect volunteers. They can affect (voter) interest, and through all those things can affect the outcome" of a race said Mark Mellman, a Democratic pollster not involved in the Ohio governor's contest.
And this is what I've always said a pollster should do:

1) compile the numbers
2) report the results honestly
3) shut the fuck up!

Sadly, they never seem to make it to "3" before they open their stupid mouths.

(This blog post is based on a random sampling of my own
disparate thoughts, and has a margin of error of 4.5%)


vagabondblogger said...

All campaigns have internal polls telling them which way the wind is blowing. But I too am getting sick and tired of the overblown analysis of polls, which are in many instances, questionable. During the 2008 campaign, most Repub pollsters were calling people with landlines. Who voted for Obama? A lot of young people with mobile phone numbers, who were totally missed by those polls. From what I've heard, the Dems this year are bit like Obama's "rope-a-dope". Just getting started, while the repubs get all spent and wired out.

vagabondblogger said...

Just thought I'd add this link:

CT Bob said...

Yup, GOTV will make all the difference in this election. Let's pray for mild weather, and for good Democrats to make the effort to get to the polls on Tuesday.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Go Dems!