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Polls and their usefulness
Published on September 17, 2008 By PranayGupte In US Domestic

It's fascinating to see all these polls showing the fortunes (or misfortunes) of the presidential candidates. But just who do the pollsters call? Who qualifies to be a respondent? What about American citizens living abroad?


Comments (Page 1)
on Sep 18, 2008

Hopefully the polls are random and numerous...thereby giving us a decent statistic.

If they're biased or the sample size isn't large enough, then they're essentially useless.

Or at least that's my opinion after taking a semester of stats.

~Zoo

on Sep 18, 2008

Anything prior to that is only speculation, regardless of what the latest! polls! say!

Not just that it also drives the rollercoaster ride that goes with them. People see these polls and begin to question their own choices rather than simply making up their minds regardless.

There's only one poll that counts, and that's not scheduled until November.

Can't get any more truthful than that.

on Sep 18, 2008

Who qualifies to be a respondent?

Anyone with a landline.  That is actually why polling may have gotten less accurate lately.  many people are opting to forgo landlines since Cell Phones are everywhere and the packages relatively cheap.  Indeed, if my wife did not need a fax line, we would not have one.

So who has dropped their land line for cell phone coverage only?  I would suspect the Yuppies (Young Upwardly-Mobile) are the biggest source.  And who do they vote for?  Good question.  I am not sure.  They may be evenly distributed over the spectrum of american politics.  Or they may favor one party over the other.  That is the question the polsters have to figure out.

on Sep 18, 2008

The other issue to remember is that most, if not all, of the polls are based on popular vote not electoral.  Just because there is a dead heat in a popular votes doesn't mean that there will be in an electoral vote which is the one that counts.

As for who qualifies to be a respondent, any registerd voter qualifies.  Most polls, as Doc pointed out, are done by land line polling but there are some done on foot which means that you have to be where the pollster is.  This tends to exclude entire groups of people, like Doc pointed out, so the polls are horribly unreliable.  The main reason they are done any more is to give the 24 hour news agencies something to talk about.

on Sep 18, 2008

The main reason they are done any more is to give the 24 hour news agencies something to talk about.

Well - and us bloggers too (at least those who need something to argue about)

on Sep 28, 2008

What amazes me about the polls are the undecideds.  I mean come on!  Who could possibly be undecided by this point.  Oh I know, the lazy and uninformed.

on Sep 30, 2008

What amazes me about the polls are the undecideds. I mean come on! Who could possibly be undecided by this point. Oh I know, the lazy and uninformed.

People who refuse to answer the questions are labelled "undecided" usually. And I personnally always refuse to tell for whom I will vote. More people should do that, since Politicians would be less likely to try to tack in the most recent fade.

on Oct 08, 2008

They'll lump you in the undecided if you say "third party candidate", too. 

Ever notice how it's always "Red/Blue/Grey?"  A lot of the grey in the pie charts are third party voters.

on Oct 09, 2008

Ever notice how it's always "Red/Blue/Grey?" A lot of the grey in the pie charts are third party voters.

IN the olympics, you do not get a medal for 4th place.

on Oct 10, 2008

IN the olympics, you do not get a medal for 4th place.

But you are still rated as such. And you still can be proud of your 4th place (stupid viewers' opinion nonwhistanding), because it's still hard to go as high as there.

If we followed your line of reasoning, we should only consider the one ahead in polls, and consider the rest as "others/undecided", since you get nothing if you rate 2nd for the presidential election.

I really think they should put a dichotomy between "undecided" and "other party"

on Oct 10, 2008

If we followed your line of reasoning

It is not my line of reasoning, simply an observation of why they have grey, and not yellow, orange and green.

on Oct 12, 2008

It is not my line of reasoning, simply an observation of why they have grey, and not yellow, orange and green.

They should have Blue, Red, Yellow and Grey. Yellow are all the 3rd-parties, and grey are the really undecided.

That way, republicans wouldn't have daydreams about how many of the undecided could go their way

on Oct 13, 2008

They should have Blue, Red, Yellow and Grey. Yellow are all the 3rd-parties, and grey are the really undecided.

That way, republicans wouldn't have daydreams about how many of the undecided could go their way

Or democrats in other elections.  It is the same old syndrome - close the door after you get in.  You see it on a smaller scale in upscale neighborhoods (once someone gets theirs - "that is enough growth!" syndrome).  The democrats and republicans both play it because they are both in it.  And in a machiavellian way, both support the other so that they stay the only 2.

on Oct 14, 2008

Or democrats in other elections. It is the same old syndrome - close the door after you get in. You see it on a smaller scale in upscale neighborhoods (once someone gets theirs - "that is enough growth!" syndrome). The democrats and republicans both play it because they are both in it. And in a machiavellian way, both support the other so that they stay the only 2.

I agreed with you on both counts

- That there should be a dichotomy between Third-party voters and undecided, while it crush the hope of either party who is not ahind

- That both parties just leave it right there, since it gives the impression to everybody that there are only 2 relevant choices.

on Oct 14, 2008

So who has dropped their land line for cell phone coverage only?

That's me!

And who do they vote for?

Republicans and Democrats (but usually favoring Reps).

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