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Polls Are Pretty Useless


TV news lives on polls, but I don’t think they are accurate.  They show to some extent what some people are thinking, but they don’t necessarily predict the outcome of elections unless there is a substantial spread between the responses.  I would not even trust a 10% differential. 

I think there are many people, like myself, who do not reaspond to poll questions, so the people polled are not representative, and many do not respond honestly.  Those who do respond may strongly favor a candidte and thus tend to respond in wsys they think will help their candidate, e.g. by saying what issues they think are important. 

One big problem is that most pollsters are elite Democrats from left-leaning media or academia.  Conservatives sense this and when these leftist pollsters call, Republicans are not going to cooperate with them, because they see them as the enemy. The pollsters have contempt for the conservatives they interview and the interviewees know that.   Thus, polls tend to confirm whatever the political elite thinks is a likely result.  Pollsters are unable to talk to those who don’t share their opinions. 

Politicohas an article by Steven Shepard about the difficulties with polls.  It says:

Pollsters know they have a problem. But they aren’t sure they’ve fixed it in time for the November election.

Since Donald Trump’s unexpected 2016 victory, pre-election polls have consistently understated support for Republican candidates, compared to the votes ultimately cast.

Once again, polls over the past two months are showing Democrats running stronger than once expected in a number of critical midterm races. It’s left some wondering whether the rosy results are setting the stage for another potential polling failure that dashes Democratic hopes of retaining control of Congress— and vindicates the GOP’s assertion that the polls are unfairly biased against them.

“There’s no question that the polling errors in [20]16 and [20]20 worry the polling profession, worry me as a pollster,” said Charles Franklin, the director of the Marquette Law School Poll in Milwaukee and a longtime survey-taker in the battleground state of Wisconsin. “The troubling part is how much of that is unique to when Donald Trump is on the ballot, versus midterms when he is not on the ballot.”

After 2016, pollsters said the problem was their samples included too few voters without college degrees. The polls were better for the 2018 midterms, though they were still too Democratic on balance.

Then came 2020 — which was worse than 2016, and for which pollsters have yet to settle on a definitive explanation of what precisely went wrong. As a result, an easy fix has proven elusive. But pollsters have mostly agreed that, particularly in 2020, the surveys missed a chunk of Trump’s voters who refused to participate in polls.

And the New York Times noted that some of Democrats’ strongest numbers are coming in the states that have seen the greatest polling misses over the past few elections.

Partisan campaign pollsters in both parties suggested Trump voters are again difficult to capture in the run-up to this election.

“There is a good chance that a lot of the publicly released surveys are overstating Democratic strength,” said Glen Bolger, a Republican pollster at the firm Public Opinion Strategies.

But some Democrats are daring not just to believe in the polls — but hoping that the party may actually overperform in November, pointing to two special congressional election wins last month in Alaska and New York, where polls showed Republicans ahead going into Election Day.

“You just saw the polls underestimate the victories in both Alaska and in Upstate New York,” Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview at a POLITICO Pro Premium Roundtable event earlier this month. “So, if anything, the polls may be showing a conservative bias right now.”


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