Des Moines County Republicans

Richard’s Ritings – one hundred twenty one

What’s in a poll?

Back in my day, as us old folks continue to say, I had a few experiences with polling. And I gotta tell you that there are more scams in polling than there are on the internet today. And that is why the folks who run tv stations take the four or five polls they think are reliable and average them.

So, let me take you through a scenario that you have probably not thought about and see how this would change your mind, or as the educated folks say, “skew” the results.

Just for the sake of this problem, let us say that you have been contracted by these pollsters to find out if the public is planning to spend more money, or less money, on air travel in the next year?

Also, for the sake of our example, let us say that two large jet airliners crashed over New York City and all 500 passengers or so, dropped into the Hudson River and were killed.

Now, your contract calls for calling 500 folks in the New York City area and the “call date” is two weeks after the crash. Got the picture?

So, two weeks later you start calling folks in New York City and ask them the question, “do you plan to travel more, or less by air this coming twelve months” – YES or NO.

I am not sure if you would get even ONE yes in those circumstances.

So, you now go on tv and proclaim that you have polled the public and they plan to do less flying in the next year.

And there you have the perfect scenario why polls, on their face, are so unreliable that no one uses them.

The usable information lies in the polling data, as it is called. What day and what year was the poll conducted. What time of the day were the calls made? Where did you make the calls, geographically.

If it happens to be a political poll, how many R’s, D’s and I’s did you call? Did you use a land line or a cell phone?  And there are many other criteria such as race, citizenship and more. Once you put all that in the pot, you will get a decent answer to the question you are calling about. And now days there are few folks who have the stomach for polling because it takes a while to make sure you have not only asked the pertinent question, you have also “profiled” the person you are talking to on the phone.

It is a very complicated science nowadays and some folks use the call as a form of entertainment. A project which should not be done by amateurs, and a lot of professionals have trouble with the entire scenario.

With all that in mind, I have to tell you that recently I received a poll in my e-mail inbox and thought, just for old times sake, I would take a look at it and see what was cooking.

So, I clicked on, “take this poll” and here is what I saw. Only five questions, hardly enough to qualify me, and as I found out after I filled out the poll, it was not really about the five questions, but, was I wealthy enough to be sent MORE LITERATURE and possible telephone calls so I could contribute to the Republican party, in the upcoming election.

Remember, in a previous life, I contracted to do some polling, which I was paid for – this one was a freebie.

Here are the questions and the answers the pollster had recorded up to the date I took the poll.

Overall, do you approve or disapprove of President Obama’s job performance? The answer, up to the time I clicked in was 80 percent disapprove. Personally, I don’t know where you would find 20 percent who do approve, but that is for another day.

How has President Obama managed the U. S. economy? Once again 78 percent checked “poorly” and once again I wonder where they found the 8 percent who thought he had done an outstanding job.

How do you view the economy today under President Obama?  And I could not believe this one, but 48 percent of the respondents believe that – we are in a recession.  Thirteen percent thought we are in a strong recovery and 38 percent thought we are in a weak economy.

In the next two years, what direction do you see the stock market and Dow Jones going? Forty-five percent think the stock market will decline significantly, twenty percent thought it would decline somewhat, thirteen percent tied at, It will stay the same and it will rise modestly. Only five percent thought it would rise significantly. I wonder how all the folks who have retirement plans feel about this response.

And the fifth question, which is called the “hook”, went like this. Describe your net worth as an investor, alone or with your spouse, excluding your home value. And as a note I ALWAYS lie about this stuff because it is nobody’s business, especially on the internet since I don’t even know ONE THING about the source of this poll.

Interesting enough, 52 percent claimed their income to be below $250,000, twenty-two percent claimed to have a net worth of 250 to one million bucks and nine percent claimed to be worth more than a million dollars.

My question to you – do you believe the pollsters in the above poll give a darn about what I think, or are they interested in looking for someone to donate big bucks to the Republican party?

Be very careful about filling out polls, or worse yet, quoting their results!

(This article is the product of the author and is not associated with or submitted by the Des Moines County Republican Central Committee nor any other organization)