Friday, November 10, 2023

Why Polls are Often Wrong Now

 For those of you keeping track at home, since the 2020 election, the polls are 0-3 predicting outcomes. Why? What is wrong with polling now.? There are some interesting ideas set forth I've seen.

In today's New York Times, an article from a very conservative opinion writer provided this explanation. Since 2005, the polls have shown a distinct "unpopular" bias towards all Presidents. The writer David Brooks ascribes this to a response from voters that shows their feelings towards the federal government, not an actual opinion about the President per say. They respond negatively to polls without an effective way to voice their concerns - and make people hear them. Their votes are gerrymandered to be practically worthless, so this is one of the few ways they can express dissatisfaction.

This is one of many reasons polls are wrong. Here are some others:

Young people do not respond to polls in numbers that equal their votes. They are underweighted.

Most people no longer have landline telephones. This affects the outcome in three way.

  1. People with cell phones usually don't answer the phone to a number they don't know.
  2. Young people often respond mainly through text or other electronic means. Pollsters do not know how to engage with them.
  3. Most people who have landlines AND will answer an unknown number are older and skew more Republican.
  4. Open network polls are flooded with repeated votes and do not indicate a population's real intentions.
No doubt, it is a combination of these reasons. But until we have better systems in place, one should take a poll's results with a grain of salt.

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