Can we trust Polling Results?
Can we trust Polling Results? I still don’t know, but I finally started getting Poll calls for Survey in 2018 Election cycle!
By TLB Contributing Author: Joseph M. Lenard
Before I actually get to my experience being Polled, first it is important to have a general discussion about polls…. As for WHY do they fudge the polls – simple, they hope to create the BANDWAGON EFFECT early to shape an Election rather than Report on it (Bandwagon Effect)! This Article is NOT for the faint of heart, those with a twitter attention span and/or mentality… It will be long and in-depth! (links to FREEP (Detroit newspaper) 2020 stories: Detroit FREEP item 1 – Detroit FREEP item 2)
POLLING – SCIENCE, ART, COMBINATION:
Polling, they tell us: is a science! Well, I’ve studied the Science as best I could and while they’ve certainly been doing Survey’s/Polls for a long time now to try and perfect the science, there is still far more “art,” or nuance, and down-right manipulation that goes on than they’d like to admit. And we all can easily/certainly point to the Presidential Election of 2016 as proof of that – as virtually every Poll was wrong regarding that outcome!
Frankly, following the 2016 debacle, sure they’d call it just an anomaly, and refuse to self-reflect and perhaps adjust in order to ensure they do not get things as wrong as they did. for example, I find it hard to trust any polling less than 2.5k participants, but the Polling outlets still insist that Polling just 1,000 people is “representative” in the random base of calls, and many Polls still have even fewer than that. It is just COMMON SENSE that a larger sample pool would yield a far better representation and with open defiance of some, perhaps many (I know “many”) who indeed refuse to take part in polls if contacted!
Of late, in my opinion, the only true, real, and reliable, Pollsters these days seems to be The Trafalgar Group. Truth is, there is often, from what I’ve Researched two seasons of/for Polling. Many of the Polling firms often do engage in manipulation or an attempt to shape opinion rather than report on opinion in early polling efforts by “weighting” (more on that later) a poll to lean more democrat than potentially should base upon “predictive model” (and, again, more on that later) would/should call for based upon historical data (you guessed it, more on that later). Then, in bid to save their reputations they do engage in far more serious attempts to report rather than influence, in later poll reports as Elections draw nearer! HOW?!?!? Simple….
Perhaps far more important than sample size (because, despite “many” refusing to take part in polls, the polling organizations are indeed going to make their quotas of “identified” Registered “Democrats” and “Republicans” (even if they have to take longer and make many more Calls until they reach those numbers that identify as such who will willingly participate (avoiding the whole will lie to pollsters phenom that also exists, which is why I spoke above about not trusting lower sample size polls and not understanding the resistance of polling firms to not go to larger size models just to (again) protect their own reputations) and try and “adjust for” or “counter” any folks who are purposefully “messing with their numbers” by not being honest with Pollsters)) and those who IMO refuse to take a side in what has become a fight for the soul of America! Side with Democrats (and their ever lurching more and more Socialist and outright Anti-Americanism) or those wanting to preserve/conserve (Conservatives) the “REPUBLIC” (Republicans) and still choose to call themselves Independents! My apologies for that very long, dare say “run on” sentence and parentheticals, trying to tie what was all still one basic thought together! anyway, “more important than sample size” is what is called “weighting” (the “predictive model” of how many GOP, how many Democrats, and how many Independents, to survey as makeup) of a Poll. This is where the “art” and/or attempts to manipulate come in….
BEFORE GOING FURTHER… WHAT IS A PUSH POLL:
If you’ve been involved in Politics at all more than just showing up to Vote or the last 30 days or so up to an election, you should have heard the term: “push poll!” a “push poll” is what is known as the polls I’ve discussed trying to shape opinion as opposed to real poll just trying to garner honest reaction to report a given election true/honest/realistic probable/likely outcome! these are done, I contend, by many polling firms in order to help shape an upcoming election based upon their own internal (staff’s) personal bias (democrat or republican, leanings) and often too by campaigns themselves! this can be done by “weighting” (more on that coming) but a lot of times by skewing the results by skewing the questions asked!
Honest polling calls for questions to be couched in as neutral terms/language as possible… push polling often uses language to try and lean the responder into a preferred response rather than their potentially honest opinion had neutral terminology been used to ask a given question! in other words, they may preface a question with a brief monologue or statement meant to skew the discussion toward either a liberal (to benefit a democrat) or a conservative (to benefit a republican / GOP) outcome. using a “some say” argument! a “some say” preface should always contain a some say from the liberal side and a some say (counter) from the conservative side – to balance the preface and then ask for the person being surveyed honest response of leaning one way, the other, or are they somewhere in the middle, or completely undecided regarding any given issue or list(s) of candidates! do they favor (absolutely favor or just lean) one candidate, or the other, or undecided?!?!?
Not to single anyone out, but by way of recent example: I had a door-to-door survey just a few weeks back. it just so happened that the volunteer was/is a lifelong friend of mine. the issue being abortion. the survey (they won’t admit it’s a push poll, but it is) conducted by Susan B Anthony list PAC! they asked “did you know” this or that about particular legislation and who is driving them questions with the goal to preface the final questions of who do you support (this was in/for Michigan): Dixon or Whitmer, for or against the “reproductive freedom for all” ballot initiative (that would not just overturn Michigan’s 1931 prolife law but 50 others (including statutory rape, allowing anyone to have sex with children, and other depravity), etc…
They hope, on behalf of their (and, for full disclosure, my position) of being pro-life and to promote pro-life candidates to try and turn Michigan red (it is, more or less, purple, the statewide offices go back and forth between GOP and Democrats). anyway, point partially being, you may not necessarily grasp whether a poll is a push poll or regular poll, and (as I said) I was visited by someone I know and was very happy to even take part in what I knew going in was a clear push poll. had some great side conversation too! 🙂
A brief interruption to mention: it is said 40% of Christians are NOT REGISTERED to Vote let-alone therefore show up to Vote. IF they were, as most REAL CHRISTIANS (not talking fake ones like Biden, Pelosi, et al) are generally Conservative and Constitutionalists, because of what the Bible teaches – we would be Voting in such over-whelming numbers that Purple States would turn Red, and many Blue States would be Battlegrounds Purple – they would not even be able to cheat enough to defeat us!
“WEIGHTING”, “PREDICTIVE MODEL”, “HISTORIC PRECEDENCE“:
Any and every Poll’s predictive acumen, is only as good as the “predictive model” (the composition of “predicted turnout”) of any give Election cycle. Whether it be a Presidential cycle or a Midterm Election, history (trends) provides a “reasonable” set of recent and/or long-term (historic) criteria to base an upcoming Election prediction (supposed “enthusiasm gaps”) upon. This, of course, occasionally gets turned on its head by one side or another turning out about Historic levels (whether it be Democrats being more motivated than usual, or GOP base more motivated than normal, as just because someone is “registered” or “identifies” (as not all States track Party Affiliation, some only ask you to declare during a Primary (but not be pre-registered))) does not mean they automatically Vote! That’s where the art and the science collide! Accurately predicting turnout! The history of turnout each Election (providing “somewhat” reliable trend data), going back and actually identifying how many of the “D” and “R” Party vs Registered actually showed up to Vote, and the remainder of “Independents” (yes, NOT ALL, the “third Party” (yes, they hate that label) Voters get lumped in with the Independents! and “expected voters” (whether or not they bothered to check the “Registered Voter” for having pulled a Ballot in the last 3 Elections versus just “Registered” Voters who may not ever actually Vote.
Again, history often tells the turnout (which any given poll’s predictive model is normally built upon) tale! Midterms often motivate the Party not holding the White-House, and there can often (actually usually) be a transfer (change of control/power, working majority (and who then has Chair of Committees)) in the US House and US Senate; and that also has some effect on State races and down-ballot “supposed” non-partisan Races too!
The average shift for the US House is often between 30-50 seats from Red to Blue, or Blue to Red, again depending upon who is POTUS! Though, we have to add a caveat of late, this last redistricting has seen more gerrymandering than ever before to protect some seats, and while CA and NY may have lost a Congressional District, that doesn’t mean automatically loses a “Blue/Dem” seat due to how the Maps may be redrawn. Also, of late, Soros had funded many Ballot initiatives to change Laws or a Constitution in Red States to get supposed “impartial” Commissions to redraw the lines rather than the Republican State Legislators who by our Founding are supposed to hold the power to do so. Those Commissions then, of course, are manipulated to get more Democrats, some masquerading as Independents or Republicans, to then skew the redistricting to Democrats. Like happened in Michigan.
Many will recall what some call the Republican revolution or some call the Gingrich revolution (due to his developing the Contract with America, that helped sweep control of the US House to GOP during Clinton Midterm)! However, it has to be noted, the normal/average (usual in conjunction with historic trends) does not automatically equate to change of/in control of either body of Congress – though indeed often does. And, it has to be noted, the US Senate is a completely different “animal” (as the saying goes) than the House! All 435 US House seats are up for Election (Reelection, of course, in case of Incumbents) every two years (and, yes, sometimes due to a Death or Resignation (or even more rare Expulsion) sometimes a Special Election in off-times but they are still up again in the next regularly scheduled Term expiration)! A Senate seat, being a 6-year Term, the Election cycles rotate – every two years only one-third of the 100 senators are up for election/reelection at any given time (and if death/resignation/expulsion, under 10th amendment and 17th amendment, it goes to state law to determine replacement – Governor appointment or Special Election)! And, any given US Senate Election cycle is unique in and of itself as the “composition” of the incumbency seats will always be different (as in 2020, the GOP had far more Incumbents seats to defend thereby giving Democrats greater chance at shift and potential transfer of that body. For 2022 the US Senate seats up Map looks far more beneficial towards GOP gaining seats. Presidential years, have their own HISTORICAL TRENDS too, as a Sitting president often is assured reelection (yes, just going back my Lifetime, Carter, HWBush, and now recently Trump (which the question of Fraud in 2020 is a whole other subject), became exceptions) though Vice-Presidents vying to continue past their 8 years as VP and becoming POTUS themselves is really an open question as while HWBush fared well, Gore did not, Cheney didn’t run, and Biden didn’t run consecutively after ObamaBiden Admin!
NATIONAL POLLS VS STATE-BY-STATE POLLS:
There is a big difference… We are a REPUBLIC* and the POTUS is Elected based upon the Electoral College (EC)(part of the US Constitution’s checks and balances*/** and minority protections* (no, not minority in the Race/Gender/etc. definition, but instead Rural (lower Population areas) vs Urban (traditionally higher Populated areas) and not National Popular Vote (NPV). I am NOT going to go into the history of POPULAR-VOTE/ELECTORAL-COLLEGE but will instead refer you to a couple of (short/simple) 5 minute (overview) Videos for additional Research/Education on that:
* Which is also a major part why the Congress US House is divided into 435 Congressional Districts! Known as THE PEOPLES HOUSE and thereby Elected by DIRECT VOTE OF PEOPLE within each District! (more on that see: Why do we have 435 members of the US House?)
** And why the US Senate was set up as 2 Senators per State (meant to be appointed BY THE STATE, NOT by STATE POPULAR VOTE based upon each States’ (under 10th Amendment) Constitutional provisions — until the passage of the 17th Amendment (see/listen: AUDIO: Discussion of Constitution, #2A, #17A (Elections & need to Repeal 17th), Electoral College, & Federal Election Law: WAAM: MomentOfClarity 2A, 17A, ElectoralCollege, FedElectionLaws, discussion). The Senators, as part of checks and balances, were meant to be Representatives of the States interests (protective of 10th Amendment) and therefore sent by the State not direct Vote of people of a State (until 17th Amendment, which many feel, including me, should be repealed)!
Oh, before I may forget…. Additionally, related to weighting, many polls fail to take account of new Voter Registrations (in States that Record “Party affiliation” at Registration) that is factor to/by serious Political analysts as to enthusiasm gap calculations and therefore should result in adjusting of turnout model (weighting projections that then greatest factor that comprise, if being honest, the poll results) as newly Registered Voters have a solid track-record of actually showing up to vote (should be considered in likely voters polling (but likely voters traditionally only calculated as someone who has voted in the last 3 elections))!
OK, finally, said all that re: EC vs NPV to say this: NATIONAL POLLS DON’T MATTER because we use the EC vs NPV. What matters are STATE POLLS (polls conducted solely within any given State) and even then every Polling firm (and you can easily find them via DUCKDUCKGO search) will be different (go back to weighting and sample size) and why you often hear, and is best to deal in, REAL CLEAR POLITICS (RCP) “averages of Polls” results (speculations, and, first time I used that word, but that is still what/all they are) and RCP main website can be found at: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls/ . Even then/there, what matters most Battleground States (which they have a whole pull-down sub-menu dedicated to (for good reason))! for some real good analysis of the data/raw-numbers, broken down by Election type and/or location, Larry Sabato’s CRYSTAL BALL reports are a reasonable reliable speculative source.
NOT ALL STATES ARE CREATED EQUAL (#BattleGrounds State):
What do I mean? Well, simple… Currently you can take 2 very obvious States: CA and NY. They are deep blue and are likely to remain deep blue for the foreseeable future (though, in my lifetime, CA was a reliably red State for POTUS Elections, but not so the last 4 decades at least)! TX is a red State and likely to remain red for the foreseeable future! The States that matter are what are referred to as PURPLE STATES***! The BATTLE-GROUND STATES***! Those are the States that swing Presidential Elections (and, again, CRYSTAL BALL does a tremendous job of keeping an eye on how those States are likely to (as they shift back and forth given Polling data) effect any Election.
Also, related to that, here is another great related article: The Battlegrounds within the Battleground States.
These States have remained about the same for the last several Decades (some start to trend more one way than the other, but then can lurch back therefore remain in the list)! Like Michigan, my State, on the State Level itself tends to be redish-purple swings back and forth which Party controls Governorship, but more often than not the SOS and/or AG offices as well as the MI-House and MI-Senate held by GOP) but had not gone for the Republican POTUS nominee since 1988 (HWBush) until 2016 (Trump, but by only 10kish Votes)! See more on the Key to winning Statewide Races in Mich.
Back in 2020 some saw “President Donald Trump’s and Joe Biden’s campaigns are surveying a relatively stable political battlefield that will be concentrated largely in just about a half dozen states: the former “blue wall” states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the traditional swing states of Florida and North Carolina, and the emerging battleground of Arizona” (“FAIR USE” quote under Copyright Law – for more see: MSN 6 BattleGround States). While Politico added both Georgia and Minnesota (which I agreed, which you can find in other previous writings of mine leading up to the 2020 Election, which will be a shock to those who know me and know I don’t agree with POLITICO a whole lot****). However, Ohio is usually deemed a Battlegrounds State and this is one area and I had interjected my Opinion before 2020 and said OHIO MUST BE CLOSELY WATCHED (esp. with former Gov Kasich part of the “suspect by many” “Lincoln Project” and many calling “RINOsForBiden” crew) and more-so of importance Ohio has picked/chosen/voted-for who became POTUS predictably more than any other State (as have certain select “indicative Counties” across the USA)….
“We know this because Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a weekly politics newsletter published by the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, looked at presidential elections dating back to 1896 and found that no state had a higher percentage of picking the winner – 28 of 30, for 93 percent.”
And I have a PERSONAL BEEF with POLITICO:
Polls may not, again, like with 2016, be telling the tale! And, may not for some time to come if the Polling agencies (IMO) do not make adjustments! There is never any such thing as settled Science (Science always adjusts and changes given new theories and data by which to test current “accepted norms” vs “as we grow, we should learn (and, that goes for Political-Science accepted norms, as much as the Global Warming/Climate Change farce)! Clearly, at best, Polls need to adjust their plus/minus margin of error (MOE) ranges in order to provide far more wiggle room, for the many times they are proven wrong (and can potentially save face) if their failures fall within broader MOE! and, as I alluded to above, raise their sample rates to provide far more flexibility in potential people lying to pollsters (seemingly increasing recent phenom)! and, again, to be fair, it is impossible for them to ever know if an unexpected wave election (such as if the so-called silent majority) with massive unpredictable folks turn-out!
Just as they didn’t see or factor the beginnings/rumblings of what later officially became the TEAParty movement(s), movements because they were not centrally run/funded though there were a couple whose size/scope were “National” most were local created/operated and they missed the Republican/Gingrich revolution of 1996. and, even before that, with Perot who actually (though Kramer of CNBC is credited with the TEAParty Revolution creation with his CNBC rant) the TEAParty by another name was Founded in 1986 with Perot’s “UNITED WE STAND AMERICA” organization (which was separate from his Presidential Run, but later morphed via State by State grassroots efforts to become THE REFORM PARTY) and I was indeed happy to be part of a Local UWSA Chapter, wrote Conservative pieces (on out of control Spending, Deficits, Debt (which seems like small change vs today’s levels), out of control Courts even back then, etc.) for its Newsletter, but NO – I did NOT become part of Perot’s Presidential Run crew and did NOT Vote for him! Is there a TEAParty resurgence? I can see it somewhat locally in a couple TEAParty groups again having Local meetings, while a few others went by the way-side (including, because Leadership moved to other areas of Michigan, RATTLE WITH US (SEMi) TEAParty, which I was the RWU Writing Committee Chair! More-so, it will be near impossible for Polling agencies to now factor in the #WALKAWAY (Brandon Straka’s) and #BLEXIT (Candace Owens’) National movements!
AND LET ME ADD SOMETHING ODD:
It is sad, but frankly it is BEST when GOP Candidates are down a few in Polls. Why? If they are up in Polls some feel they don’t need to DONATE to assist the Campaign, that we may have it in the bag. If and when our Candidates are down by a few, people may actually GET OFF THEIR ASSES and open their wallets and purses to Help!
About the Author: Joseph M. Lenard was a former writer for Super Simple Computer Enterprises, REDSTATE, Grassfire, and Rattle With Us – MI TEAParty (where he was Writing Committee Chair) and others. Joseph is a current content provider at Before It’s News and The Liberty Beacon. He is also the Author of: “Terror Strikes: Coming Soon to a City Near You”!
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